Democracy and Equality for Mules

The complexes of Jewish legislators are beyond me.

Prof. MK Arieh Eldad

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The Israeli government decided to establish an administrative unit "to encourage those sectors that do not serve in the Israeli army to volunteer for civilian service." The government chose its words carefully in the laundered announcement it made. It did not refer, heaven forbid, to "national service," as thousands of religious Jewish girls have
Arab leaders... angrily rejected the idea that young Arabs could volunteer for civilian service.
served in Israel for many years. Nor, heaven forbid, to "Arabs," so as not to offend them. But the laundering did not help the Israeli ministers much.

Israeli Arab leaders hurriedly met and angrily rejected the idea that young Arabs could volunteer for civilian service. And the government had not spoken, heaven forbid, of obligatory service. But even volunteer service, within the framework of the State of Israel, was seen by the Arabs as "a distortion of national identity and a justification for discriminating against the Arab public."

Even service in Arab schools, cultural institutions, and medical facilities serving only Arabs, in their own villages, was seen by the Arabs as assisting the State of Israel: "The rights of the Arab public are not dependent on the provision of military services that support the occupation," declared the Arab leaders of various political affiliations, from the nationalist Communists to the representatives of the Islamic Movement. Even though these parties are as far apart as Meretz is from Agudat Israel, when it comes to deep hatred for the State of Israel and their desire to erase its Jewish character, they are a united front.

There are Bedouin Arabs who serve in the Israeli army. I have never understood why what is possible for a Bedouin from the Galilee is impossible for a non-Bedouin Arab from Tira or Sakhnin.

I have been told, "It is inconceivable to demand of an Arab that he bear weapons against his brother across the border." Is a Bedouin not his brother? And do not Sunnis and Shiites slaughter each other in the streets of Baghdad? And was there not a civil war in Gaza? And in Lebanon? Since when is it forbidden for an Arab to kill another Arab? The psychological complexes of Jewish legislators that led them to exempt Arabs from national service are beyond my comprehension.

The Israeli government met to decide how to increase equality in Israel and how to grant the Arabs the legitimacy of being a sector willing to contribute to the country and not only to take from it. They assumed that the Arabs who can't serve in the Israeli army are obviously searching for other ways to contribute to the State of Israel as a whole, or at least to their own sector. But the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee publicly mocked this attempt. They proclaimed that the Arabs will not volunteer for any service in the State of Israel.

It is well known that tax revenues in the Arab sector are much lower than they should be, based on their relative percentage of the population. Some of them don't pay taxes because they are poor, but others evade taxes in order to avoid contributing to the State of Israel. Some of them do not pay property tax because they don't have the money, and others because they have earned exemptions from property tax via family members serving on their town council.
The Jewish sector subsidizes most of the services provided to the Arab sector. Thus, why should they volunteer when the state is paying? And, if it doesn't pay, then they can attack us for "discriminating against their sector."

I heard the following story from Member of Knesset Israel Hasson. It is about two fallahin [farmers; peasants]. One is a tenth-generation fallah, while his "intelligent" neighbor studied at a university and returned to the village enthusiastically preaching democracy, cooperation and equality.

The fallahi fallah had two old bulls, while the intellectual was forced to plow his fields with a pair of mules. Now, the rub: the wife of the fallahi fallah noticed that the neighbor's mules were young and ploughed energetically. She complained to her husband that the neighbor should practice what he preaches.
Grant the Arabs the legitimacy of being a sector willing to contribute to the country.
"In the name of equality and cooperation," she said to her husband, "he should give you one mule and you should give him a bull, so that both of you will be able to finish plowing before the rains come."
Her husband took her advice, went to his intelligent neighbor and, in the name of equality, convinced him to give away one mule in exchange for one old bull.

The wife of the intelligent fallah thought that this was a bad deal. "Why did you give away a young mule?" she asked her husband.

He replied by teaching her about equality and cooperation and democracy.

She answered, "If the goal is equality, then it has to be real equality. We have two old cows who don't give milk anymore and our neighbor has two cows overflowing with milk. Go to him and trade one of our dry cows for one of his, and thus we will bring more justice and equality to the world."

The intellectual went to the fallahi fallah dragging behind him an old cow. In the name of equality, he proposed exchanging cows.

The fallahi fallah scratched his head, considered the matter, and turned down the offer.

"But why not," asked the intellectual, "for our goal is equality?"

The fallahi fallah stood firm and explained that "equality is for mules."