Monday, June 23, 2008

Israeli Arabs? Yes.

For people who think that Arabs cannot integrate into Israel's Hebrew civil society, or that the only reason for peace is the so-called demographic threat, consider this: 77% of Israeli Arabs would rather live in Israel than in any other country in the world.

8 comments:

boxthejack said...

That's a somewhat optimistic interpretation. That most Israeli Arabs want to stay in the land their ancestors inhabited for centuries shouldn't be surprising.

In fact, when 23% of Israeli Arabs feel they want to leave their ancestral lands we should be concerned. If the state you propose in The Hebrew Republic were born, I suspect the 77% figure would be 99%.

Y. Ben-David said...

I would not extrapolate the results of this poll to reach the conclusion that the Israeli Arabs would welcome the "Hebrew Republic", or that they want to "integrate" into Israeli society. They know they are better off in Israel, have a better standard of living, a more peaceful civil society and more freedom than they would living in most Arab countries. This does not mean, however, that they love Israel or identify with it. It is purely pragmatic considerations. This is why Meron Benveniste has pointed out that most Arabs in east Jerusalem OPPOSE dividing the city and putting their areas under Palestinian rule. They know that if that happens gunmen will take over their neighborhoods to use them as bases to fire on the Jewish neighborhoods (as happend in Gaza when Israel pulled out and in Beit Lehem/Beit Sahur to fire on the Gilo neighborhood in Jerusalem), they know there will be a general deterioration in security, they know that a corrupt, inefficient PA administration will take over running their neighborhoods. This doesn't mean though that they love Israel. It is simply a matter of looking at one's self interest.

boxthejack said...

I take your point. Maybe I was being a little optimistic with my Hebrew Republic point.

Meanwhile, I don't think it's a purely pragmatic thing. Of course Palestinians don't love Israel. They love Palestine. And for them the land itself is still Palestine, even if the polity is Israel.

This does not necessarily mean they are against the Israeli polity, merely that their affection for the land is rooted in their own story, not in Zionism. And this clash of narratives will be best settled in a secular democratic republic.

Y. Ben-David said...

Boxthejack:

Could you please give me an example of a successful Arab secular democratic state that can serve as a prototype for us Israelis to rely on if we are going to give up our sovereignity and the right to defend ourselves and go back to living as a defenseless minority as we did for so many centuries?

boxthejack said...

Nope. In fact, many Arab rulers have used the occupation as a convenient excuse for not democratising - the "Israeli Macguffin" as Daniel Finkelstein puts it.

And you read an awful lot into what I'm saying. My point is that Palestinians are probably not embracing Israel as it stands - the fact of Israel does not imply in any way that they should have lost the connection with their ancestral land, quite the opposite.

Meanwhile, you seem to conflate Jews with Israelis/Zionists, and suggest that removing JEWISH exclusivity is the same as giving up ISRAELI sovereignty.

These errors, as I see them, are precisely those that will stop the emergence of a secular democratic state wherein the equality of minorities is guaranteed.

Certainly, were this to happen, Israel could claim to be a light to the nations of the Middle East.

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