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Jewish World Review
May 24, 2006
/ 26 Iyar, 5766
Arab Israelis' major gains & growing pains
Richard Z. Chesnoff
Here's something of a shocker: Twenty percent of all Israelis are Arabs!
I'm not talking about the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, I'm talking about Israel proper. More
than 1.3 million Israeli Arabs live in major cities, as well as scores of their own primarily
Arab towns and villages.
Some are Christian, most are Muslim, all are full citizens of Israel. They are the children,
grandchildren and even great-grandchildren of Palestinian Arabs who were smart enough not to
run during the 1948 Israeli War of Independence. Instead of becoming refugees living off an
eternal United Nations dole, they stayed home, became citizens of the new state of Israel and
for almost 60 years have enjoyed freedom and prosperity unknown to most other Arabs in the
Israel's Arab population also represents a growing problem for both the Jewish state and
itself. Despite their relative prosperity, despite the fact that they vote and have 10 members
in the Israeli Parliament, Israeli Arabs are increasingly convinced that they are discriminated
against notably in state financial aid (which tends to be 50% lower in Arab towns than it is
in Jewish ones).
This has resulted in a growing militancy among Israeli Arabs, who increasingly elect Islamic
fundamentalists as their town officials. There have even been Israeli Arab citizens caught
openly helping Palestinian terrorists.
While the link to suicide bombers is frighteningly new, estrangement is not. The proximity and
accessibility to Palestinian populations in the West Bank and Gaza have raised Arab doubts
about their status and triggered new Israeli fears about their Arab co-citizens. According to a
recent human rights survey, 48% of Israeli Arabs said they don't trust Jews, and nearly 58% of
Israeli Jews said they don't trust Arabs.
A recent Israeli Supreme Court decision upholding a controversial Knesset security ban
preventing Palestinians who marry Israeli Arabs from moving to Israel has not helped. To help
fight this deterioration in relations and conditions, a broad coalition of American Jewish
groups, including the UJA Federation of New York and the Conference of Presidents of Major
American Jewish Organizations, has formed a new task force on Israeli Arabs. Working with both
Israeli Arabs and Jews, they hope to bring the two communities closer to one another and to
convince the Israeli government to abandon its policies of economic neglect of and often de
facto discrimination against its Arab citizens. "Israel will not be at peace externally," says
Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents, "unless it has security internally."
Israel's Arabs themselves must make their own efforts, make their own choices. When a
suggestion was made as part of peace negotiations that, in exchange for several West Bank
settlements, some Israeli Arab villages become part of a Palestinian state, the first and
loudest objections came from Israeli Arabs!
Still, they must come to grips forcefully with the
fact that while Israel is their home, it is and will remain a Jewish state.
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The Arrogance of the French
This book will open your eyes!
Why do the French hate America? Richard Chesnoff has figured it out and informs us with entertaining clarity.
France sucks, but this book doesn't.
Michael Barone, Co-author, The Almanac of American Politics
Americans-and the French-will learn a lot from this book.
Clifford D. May, President, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
Richard Z. Chesnoff insightfully-and entertainingly-explores America's most dysfunctional relationship with America's least reliable ally.
Sales help fund JWR.
JWR contributor and veteran journalist Richard Z. Chesnoff is a contributing correspondent at US News & World Report, a columnist at the NY Daily News and a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Demoracies. A two-time winner of the Overseas Press Club Award and a recipient of the National Press Club Award, he was formerly executive editor of Newsweek International. His latest book, is "The Arrogance of the French: Why They Can't Stand Us & Why The Feeling Is Mutual". (Click on cover above to purchase. Sales help fund JWR. )
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© 2005, Richard Z. Chesnoff