For the past few days, gangs of Israeli Arab rioters have roamed the streets of the City of Lod (a mixed city of both Jewish and Arab residents), physically attacking Jewish bystanders, damaging property belonging to Jews including the burning of a Synagogue and pelting vehicles with rocks. We are not talking solely of hooligans, but of Arabs who lived in the same buildings as Jewish families, helping each other and enjoying friendly and neighborly relations. Israelis could not help recalling the Hevron massacre of 1929, when Arab mobs murdered and tortured the Jews with whom they had lived peacefully for years.
This brazen violent behavior by Arab rioters spread to other Israeli Arab localities throughout Israel. All this while Israel is responding to a massive missile attack of over 1000 missiles on southern and central Israel by the Palestinian terror organization Hamas. Although Israel is in the midst of a major military response to the missile attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Arab rioters have been continuing their nightly rioting in seeming support for the missile attacks on Israel,
It is fairly certain that the aftermath of the violent and treasonous behavior of so many of Israel’s Arab minority will spell the end of Jewish Arab coexistence as we know it.
The President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, who has made support for Jewish Arab coexistence a central part of his Presidency and enjoyed across the board support of Israel’s Arab minority, launched a scathing attack today on Israeli Arab leaders, following a night of violent unrest in many of Israel's mixed Jewish-Arab cities. "The silence of the Arab leadership about these disturbances is shameful, giving support to terrorism and rioting and encouraging the rupture of the society in which we live and in which we will continue to live once all this has passed," the president said in a statement.
President Rivlin made his comments in the wake of serious disturbances in several Israeli towns and cities, including Lod in the center and Acre, on its northern Mediterranean coast. President Rivlin denounced "bloodthirsty Arab mobs" after rioting by Arab-Israelis spread across Israel following lethal exchanges of rocket fire and airstrikes over the Gaza border. "The sight of the pogrom in Lod and the disturbances across the country by an incited and bloodthirsty Arab mob, injuring people, damaging property, and even attacking sacred Jewish spaces is unforgivable. Tearing down the Israeli flag by Arab rioters and replacing it with the Palestinian flag is a brutal assault on shared existence in the State of Israel."
The sudden outburst of street violence by Israeli Arab rioters surprised the general Jewish population but in actuality, the writing has been on the wall for some time, we just refused to acknowledge the basic facts of Islamic radicalization. In most Western countries, this blindness towards Islamic radicalization is widespread and is not just a problem for Israel. Israeli Arabs also feel resentment, frustration, and inferiority at their inability to retrieve what they unwarrantedly consider theirs, including Jerusalem. As Muslims, Israeli Arabs cannot remain indifferent to the enflamed anti-Israeli arguments advanced by radical Islam all around them here in Israel and from the Islamic countries surrounding Israel.
Despite the full integration of Israel’s Arab citizens into Israeli society enjoying the full benefits of a free and democratic society, working in every sphere, and despite the great economic prosperity that Israel has given to all of her citizens including Israeli Arabs; the Israeli Arabs cannot free themselves of the self-imposed belief that they are being deprived of the accepted norms of equality from Israel’s Jewish majority, coupled with the hostility and suspicion of their Palestinian Arab neighbors for being so well integrated into Israeli society. For many of the younger generation among Israeli Arabs, Islamization was the way out from this suffocating dilemma. This became the vehicle from which the younger generation could escape their historical failures to retrieve what they see as holy Muslim land.
Radicalization became the only true option that allowed this young Muslim generation to express their preferred Palestinian identity and see themselves as the vanguard of Palestinian rights in the future. Many of Israel’s Muslim religious leaders received their training and indoctrination abroad among Islamic fundamentalists at Islamic institutions of higher learning, and have for years been delivering radical sermons in mosques, schools and social gatherings. The resulting radicalization and violent rioting we have witnessed over the past week is the end result of this process among young Israeli Arabs.
The current atmosphere of insurrection coupled with nightly street violence should raise a red flag concerning the pervasive misconception that Israeli Arabs are loyal to Israel, because clearly they are not.
They can no longer have it both ways. Every year, while Israel celebrates Independence Day, the Israeli Arabs commemorate the Nakbah (the Arab term for catastrophe), that’s their way of rejecting the State of Israel. The time has come to not ignore this refusal to recognize the establishment of the State of Israel.
Israeli Arabs, we must realize, will always automatically side with their Palestinian neighbors in any confrontation with Israel even when the Palestinian side declares war on Israel and sends thousands of rockets and missiles into Israel causing widespread damage and disruption of life, not to mention those killed and wounded. Israeli Arabs see themselves as Palestinian Arabs and not as Israelis despite full democratic rights that they willingly accept and enjoy. The potential manifestation of the rejection of being Israeli creates the potential for rebellion, insubordination, and outright violence, rage and hostility. The end result is anti-Israeli rhetoric and what we have seen in recent days.
In the past years coexistence has been a hot commodity and highly popular among liberal and progressive NGO’s and donors and has enabled Israeli Arabs to enjoy the benefits of lavishly funded coexistence programs. It seems that these programs have only contributed to the radicalization of Israel’s Arab population rather than balance civic responsibility with ethnic affiliation. Coexistence cannot be a one-way street that empowers Israeli Arabs to reject their Israeli identity and identify with the enemies of Israel even as Hamas, the Palestinian Arab terror organization, is firing thousands of missiles into southern and central Israel.
Those that refuse true coexistence, should simply be shown the door, what was will not be.
Ron Jager grew up in the South Bronx of New York City, 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.
To contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.ronjager.com