Communal violence within Israel’s Arab communities
Communal violence within Israel’s Arab communities

Israel seems to feel that it has had enough of Islamic Jihad's unremittent murderous rage, Abu al-Ata, an Islamic Jihad “commander” and full-fledged Iranian proxy in the Gaza Strip was targeted and killed while in his bed having a good night’s sleep. His departure from this world was a result of Israel’s incredible pinpoint intelligence and its military capability to reach any and all of its enemies’ wherever they may hide. This arch terrorist trained and funded by Iran had been the main instigator of terror and rocket attacks on Israel in recent years.

In response to this successful targeted killing that brought about four days of hundreds of rocket and missiles being launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enjoyed wall to wall political support from all sides of the isle, except for one political group; the Joint Arab list. 

The Joint Arab List, as it is known, is made up of four separate parties who represent Israel’s Arab citizens, 20% of Israel’s total population. The Joint Arab List, a political conglomeration of four small Israeli Arab parties is vehemently anti-Zionist. Joint list Arab members often express their support and praise for convicted Palestinian terrorists. The following is only one example out of thousands of instances in which the Joint Arab list has endorsed barbaric and murderous behavior against Israelis:   

Most egregious among the party’s members, perhaps, is Heba Yazbak. Yazbak has occasionally taken to Facebook to praise convicted terrorists, most notably Samir Kuntar. On April 22, 1979, Kuntar, the teenage son of a wealthy Lebanese Druze family, landed a rubber dingy on the shore of the northern Israeli town of Nahariya. Together with three other terrorists, he shot and killed a police officer before breaking into the apartment of the Haran family and taking them hostage. Smadar, the family’s mother, managed to hide with her 2-year-old daughter, Yael. Fearful that the toddler’s cries would give them away, she stifled the child’s whimpers, accidentally suffocating her to death. Kuntar then led the family's father, Danny, to the nearby beach, together with his 4-year-old daughter, Einat.  Kuntar executed Danny in front of his daughter. He then grabbed Einat, and, using the butt of his rifle, smashed her head against a nearby rock. (Freed after spending 30 years in prison, he was killed in a targeted Israeli attack in 2015).

Other members of the Joint Arab list often compare Israeli policies to Nazis. They called former Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked “neo-Nazi scum,” and claimed that Israel was guilty of perpetrating a “creeping genocide” against its Palestinian Arab neighbors.

They have posted photos of themselves hugging the terrorists who had spent 30 years in jail for throwing hand grenades on Jewish pedestrians in Haifa.

Bassel Ghattas is a former Joint List politician who while serving as an elected Knesset member, was convicted and served a prison sentence for smuggling cellphones to a convicted Palestinian terrorist.

Let’s not forget Ahmed Tibi, a former adviser to the arch terrorist Yasser Arafat and bosom buddy to the likes of Bashar Assad and Muammar al-Qaddafi. The Knesset’s Ethics Committee has denounced Tibi in the past, for “cheering on terrorism and violence.”

Even where crime has reached unbearable levels, in part because of unlicensed weapons in Arab villages, in many instances due to cooperation between Palestinian terror organizations and Israeli Arab crime networks, the Joint Arab List has been unable to free itself from boycotting and refusing to cooperate with Israeli agencies that could assist...
These extreme positions supporting terror and murder should surprise no one who has been following the uptick in communal violence within the towns and villages of Israel’s Arab communities in recent years. There is a clear correlation between the nonstop vocal and political support that the Joint Arab List has expressed for terror, murder, and violent behavior on the part of Palestinian and Israeli Arabs who have perpetuated some of Israel’s most horrendous violent crimes in recent years and the escalating acts of murder and violence in Israel’s Arab communities. Ninety-five percent of shooting incidents in Israel occur in the Arab communities, as do nearly 60% of the murders. 

For decades, the Israeli Arab leadership, village municipal heads, and Muslim religious leaders have taken their cue from members of the Joint Arab List towards the use of violence and murder as legitimate responses to the resolution of disagreements and conflicts. Historically, the Joint Arab list has encouraged the Israeli Arab community to refuse to deal with official Israeli ministries lest they be accused of cooperating with the enemies of the Palestinian Arabs. Even where crime has reached unbearable levels in part because of the spread of unlicensed weapons in Arab villages, in many instances due to cooperation between Palestinian terror organizations and Israeli Arab crime networks, the Joint Arab List has been unable to free itself from the self-imposed shackles of boycotting and refusing to cooperate with Israeli agencies that could assist the Arab communities.

This lack of cooperation with law enforcement agencies in Israeli Arab society and the legitimization of violence by the members of the Joint List has created a cultural acceptance of the use of violence whether it is against Israeli Jewish citizens or within the Israeli Arab communities. Members of the Joint Arab list have publicly opposed the opening of Police Stations in Arab towns and villages.

Assuming that the Joint Arab list can publicly support violence against Jews and not have this climate of violence filter down into the Israeli Arab community is one of the strategic mistakes that the Joint Arab list has contributed to in recent years. The result has been that Israeli Arab society has accepted this culture of violence and has developed into a society that condones the use of violence within the Arab community.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan recently stated in regard to the uptick in Israeli Arab violence; "It’s because in their culture, disputes, rather than ending with a lawsuit, end with a knife or weapon being drawn. It’s because a mother can give her approval to her son to murder the sister because she is dating a man the family does not like.”

Honor killings of Israeli Arab women are a regular occurrence in Arab communities and depict conclusively the cultural legitimization of violence within Arab communities due to clan, family, and religious codes of acceptable violent behavior. How did shooting in the air, with its often fatal consequences, become an integral part of the wedding ceremony culture in Israeli Arab society? Undoubtedly, this is a manifestation of violence that is self-induced, begins at home and stems from the view that violence is a solution.

The political leadership of the Joint Arab list have failed miserably to focus on their responsibility to stop this self induced  communal violence which is a direct result of their decade’s long support for the use of violence in resolving conflicts. The first step should be that the Joint Arab list come out against the use of violence irrespective of whether the victim is a Jew or an Arab. Sadly, this simple first step is beyond the capacity of the current leadership of the Joint Arab list.

Ron grew up in the South Bronx of New York, making Aliyah in 1980. Served for 25 years in the IDF as a Mental Health Field Officer in operational units. Prior to retiring was Commander of the Central Psychiatric Clinic for Reserve Solders at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring has been involved in strategic consultancy to NGO's and communities in the Gaza Envelope on resiliency projects to assist first responders and communities. Ron has written numerous articles for outlets in Israel and abroad focusing on Israel and the Jewish world.