From the beginning in 1948, the idea that two peoples in Israel, one Jewish and the other Arab, living in harmony, cooperation, and peace, was a political non-starter. The 1937 British Peel Commission Partition Plan, like the United Nations General Assembly Partition Plan in 1947, had acknowledged this elemental predicament. When the Arabs rejected the proposal of a Jewish state of whatever geographical dimensions, by considering all of Palestine their exclusive homeland, they were rejecting with the same stroke of the sword both a bi-national solution and a two-state solution.
Authentic reconciliation and co-existence in Israel after the 1948 war was not in the political cards due to stark incompatibilities and clashes on the religious, cultural, national, and ideological spectrums. Israel's miniscule size could not accommodate two rival-cum-enemy communities. Thus, Abd al-Qadar al-Husseini, legendary Palestinian fighter in the Arab war against Zionism in 1948, framed the Jewish – Arab impasse as - "It's Us or Them" (in Daniel Rubinstein's book by the same title).
The Jews were only slightly less determined to see the country empty of Arabs, than the Arabs were yearning to see Palestine emptied of the Jews. When gaining the edge in the fighting, the senior Zionist leadership, headed by David Ben-Gurion, exploited and created opportunities to accelerate Arab flight across the borders. Deliberating about the place of Arabs in the new Jewish state, Zionist leaders identified the thorny awkwardness of the remaining Arabs who they inferred should preferably emigrate abroad. Adel Manna records Israeli statements in this vein in his book Nakba and Survival.
CATASTROPHE AND CONFIDENCE
The Nakba of 1948 signifies the Arab tragedy and loss of Palestine, human suffering and refugee dispersion. These developments resulted from decisions and actions propelling the collective dynamic toward an inevitable conclusion. The violence-prone Arab society was flawed by leadership competition, an absence of national unity, and political subservience to external Arab regimes. Elites fled to Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan in late 1947, and an air of impending defeat - facing the organized, mobilized, and motivated Zionists – debilitated Arab forces for the battle that they irresponsibly initiated. There was no readiness to call for caution and seek a resolution of the Jewish - Arab confrontation through peaceful means. Delusion and pride precluded rational thinking and a sober assessment of Palestinian Arab interests. This would not be the last time for such recklessness.
Jewish rule did not threaten the communal integrity of the Arab population at all. Israel acknowledged and promoted the Arabic language, respected Muslim (and Christian) religious freedom, and acquiesced with an emerging Palestinian national identity. The triumphant victors allowed the domestic enemy to benefit from modern social services, acquire higher education, experience career mobility, and wield political influence in Israel's vibrant public life.
Yet Arab advances and demographic growth tenfold did not generate an attitude of gratitude and good will, but rather an emboldened militancy that craved justice for the Arab inhabitants who were, remarked two Arab Members of Knesset, Ahmad Tibi and Yousef Jabareen in 2019, "the owners of this land." The consensual and mocking Arab narrative considers the Jews under the banner of Zionism as immigrant foreigners who colonized and conquered Palestine, evicting its peaceful inhabitants who in fact, more than not, fled in large numbers in panic from the Jews.
PROGRESS AND LAWLESSNESS
The fundamental Arab goal is the complete de-Zionization of Israel. This would mean canceling the Law of Return and the Jewish Nation-State Law. Hardly any Arab concedes that Israel is a legitimate Jewish state; hardly any Arab offers a positive or patriotic word on behalf of the Jewish state; and hardly any Arabs (though some Bedouin) serve in the military to defend Israel. The Arab population pays allegiance to its own local community, to the Palestinian Arab people of which they are a part, to Islam and the Arab world (and some to Iran).
The Arabs' political arsenal includes a cryptic rhetoric to undermine the singular and predominant Jewish national ethos of Israel: calling for a state of its citizens, a post-national secular egalitarian state, or a bi-national state. These codes, all of which spell the end of the Jewish state, parallel labelling Israel a racist, apartheid, exclusivist, and supremacist state. Former MK Azmi Beshara popularized this terminology in the public discourse. Other Arab politicians, like Minister Issawi Frej, have spurned such epithets.
These charges fly in the face of the facts on the ground. Arab judges, parliamentarians, government ministers, doctors, hospital directors, scientists, and professors, attest to Israel's liberal policies. The talent and capability of Arabs are publicly recognized and part of the fabric of Israeli society. For all of their advances and achievements, the Arabs record an exceedingly disproportionate high rate of crime and violence, assaults and harassment.
While Hamas missiles rained down on Israel in the Gaza War in May 2021, Arabs in Lod and Ramla, Jaffa and Akko, ferociously attacked Jewish dwellings, burned synagogues and cars, murdered a Jew and seriously injured another. Those appalling days acquired a reference to other times and other places - "the pogroms of May." Typical of the Palestinian nationalist-jihadist insurrection of recent years is the Islamic battle cry "Allahu Akbar."
Arab rejection of the Jewish state's authority and sovereignty exploded more than once, in the beginning of 2022, in the Shimon Hatzadik/Sheikh Jarrah Jerusalem neighborhood, where flimsy Arab housing claims challenging valid Jewish rights were denied by the courts. The Palestinian Arabs burst into a wild frenzy. While walking her young children to school, a Jewish woman was stabbed one morning by a 13 year-old Arab girl, firebombs were hurled into a Jewish home (miraculously the family was away for the Sabbath), and arson attacks damaged Jewish-owned cars.
Across the broad canvas of Israel, government weakness in confronting the unruly Bedouin in the south and Arab agricultural terrorism in the north goaded an intensification of the wave of Palestinian Arab rebelliousness. Arab crime carries a nationalistic political color. Police restraint, or their very absence from the scene when Arab mobs attack, created in the mixed cities in particular a stinging sense of insecurity and fear for the Jewish citizens.
Examples of Arab lawlessness are legion: smuggling weapons and drugs from Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan; building houses without legal authorization; terrifying Jewish business-owners with mafia-style protection money extortions; car ramming Jewish civilians and police officers; poisoning food in restaurants; rowdy behavior in public places like swimming pools and public parks; and intimidating Jewish female students at the Tzfat College.
Arab militancy and bullying stand in contrast with Israel's policy of affirmative action on behalf of Arabs to gain acceptance to universities and colleges across the country. A generous preferential quota for undeserving Arab students to enter medical programs has the unfortunate consequence of compelling some Jewish candidates, now victims of discriminatory practices, to leave the country and enroll in medical faculties abroad.
When the Jews call for peace and offer good will, this is in the cultural vernacular of the Middle East an act of surrender. When Arabs sow chaos on the roads and in the towns of Israel, this is not an expression of political dissent but of civil disorder and insurrection.
MYTH of CO-EXISTENCE
Within the Green Line borders of pre-'67 Israel, the Palestinian campaign – led by Sheikh Ra'ed Salah of the outlawed northern branch of the Islamic Movement - includes vilification of the IDF army, desecration of the Temple Mount, and solidarity with Hamas and Hezbollah. The Arabs, oblivious of the upshot, push the Nakba dynamic forward, with the 1948 precedent looming above the din of an exacerbating confrontation.
The enduring religiously sanctified and ideologically sustained escalation of domestic Arab opposition to Israel takes many forms. Youth grow up alienated from the state, at variance with the police, loathsome toward soldiers. They ritually visit former Arab village sites in Israel, or on whose premises a Jewish settlement arose, conjuring up memories and engaging in political theatre to restore the historical map as it was.
Member of Knesset Mansour Abbas, a cunning Muslim employing flattery and flexibility, led his Ra'am Party to join the coalition headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in 2021. He confidently refers to his Palestinian Arab voting constituency as "the Nakba survivors." It is common among Arab politicians to refer to Palestinian terrorists as martyrs for Palestine, and to apply the terrorist label to Israel's soldiers who defend the country and its citizens – against Palestinian terrorists. In the same nationalist idiom Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, called upon his brethren in February 2022 to avenge the liquidation of three terrorists by the IDF in Shchem (Nablus), and murder Israeli soldiers.
Not surprising that the overwhelming numbers of Arab voters cast their ballots in Israel's general elections for the two Arab parties, not the variety of Jewish-manned or Jewish – Arab mixed lists. The myth of co-existence, while a light of humanity in some shared environments and endeavors, dims in the charged tension-filled reality dividing the two solitudes. On university campuses, Jewish and Arab students conduct separate lives; and at controversial political demonstrations the Arabs flaunt the Palestinian flag, the Jews the Israeli one. Such is the infirmity of common citizenship in the Jewish state.
Yet, we have no grounds to be surprised, let alone astounded, by this state of affairs. Anti-Zionist Arabs in a Jewish state are an ideological anomaly. To assume their loyalty is incredulous. To condemn their allegiance to Palestinian peoplehood, Islamic doctrine, and Arab nationalism, is insensitively partisan. To demand they salute the blue-and-white flag of Israel is unwarranted. And to expect Israel to trust the Arabs and welcome their presence in the state is foolhardy and senseless.
THE SCRIPT AND THE PROGNOSIS
The Arabs are pushing Israel to the wall. There are an estimated 400,000 illegal firearms in the possession of Arabs, in their towns and villages, fields and homes. This is a mega threat lurking in the shadows. iArab weapons, we should note, have been used fatally and not infrequently in family disputes, honor killings, personal vendettas, and gang-wars. Intra-Arab homicides, numbering 126 in 2021, are a festering problem within the fractured Arab society.
Past scenarios signal the possibilities for a future massive Arab rebellion. A Palestinian uprising/intifada in Jerusalem and Samaria in the aftermath of a Temple Mount controversy deteriorated into the violent "events of October 2000" in the Galilee. The 2021 "May pogroms" in Israeli cities mercilessly targeted innocent Jewish neighbors, as Hamas rocket-fire aimed at Tel-Aviv. Presently, in 2022, the inter-communal friction and Arab violence in the Jerusalem Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood could ignite a broader countrywide upheaval. Major-General Yitzhak Turgeman stated in November 2021 that, in a war in the north with Hezbollah or Syria, violent disturbances would make it difficult for army transport convoys carrying troops to traverse the Wadi Ara route. At that moment, Arab thugs and murderers will set the tone – not the Arab physicians and teachers.
This political script for a flood of sedition exploding in the streets and highways will expose the fraud of Jewish – Arab amity. Israelis and especially the political class have stubbornly denied a simmering Arab thirst for revenge against the Zionist interlopers and robbers of Palestine.
More than a hundred years ago, the Zionist author-pioneer Moshe Smilansky wrote that if the Arab senses you have power, "he will submit to you and maintain his hatred for you in his heart. If he feels you are weak – he'll rule you."
Muslims believe history is on their side. They arm themselves with faith and patience, fury and fierceness, to overcome the disabilities of a problematic present. According to the Koran (9:33), Muslims are born to rule and destined to dominate the Jews. In contrast, Jews remain encumbered with the exilic weight of insecurity and fragility as a fate to endure. At certain moments – like in 1948 and 1967 – they awaken to the danger and the opportunity, and grab the moment. The Nakba dynamic is now working its way through the mist of peril.
Surrounded from without and menaced from within, Israel is on track to confront the domestic enemy whose threat sends a message of urgency, if not panic. Meanwhile, Israel moderates her response to provocative Arab nationalist and criminal actions, often releasing from detention without charges or trials Arabs who committed a variety of misdemeanors, hoping the present wave of Palestinian disorder will pass. However, no responsible Israeli should ignore Winston Churchill's sobering lesson: appeasement leads to war.
Liberal optimists are intellectually, emotionally, and politically unprepared to deal with rock-throwing Bedouin citizens who obstruct the road to Arad, or an Arab rabble which assaults Jews in Beersheba, or Arab youth who stab Jews in the Old City of Jerusalem, or smash Israeli vehicles and injure their occupants with rocks and firebombs in Samaria. The politics of violence is not the liberals' métier.
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
Israeli Nobel Laureate author Shmuel Yosef Agnon, writing in the aftermath of the Arab pogrom in 1929, described reality:
"Among the people of Talpiot [in Jerusalem] were many [Jewish] optimists who said the Arabs would never come into Talpiot; after all, many of them earned their living there…On the way we met some Arabs, from their faces we could see they had come to loot. [Someone] asked if he should kill them. Krishevsky said NO! We all knew that if it had been the other way around they would have done the opposite."
In a scenario of an all-out violent struggle, the state of Israel will gain the upper hand. Its security resources and experience, national will and moral urgency, will outweigh any combination of Arab grievances, guns, and an impulse to foment turmoil. When de-escalation fails, new rules will prevail. Israel may then set a strategic goal to turn the corner in this lengthy and bitter conflict, and not be limited to just riding out the storm as a transient altercation. Were the Arabs cautious in assessing the balance of forces, they would stop short of pushing the process to the end-point. When the aggressor loses, as in the 1948 Nakba debacle, he has only himself to blame.
WHO WILL GO?
The PLO Covenant from 1964, in Article 6, recognizes the right of Jews to stay in liberated Palestine on the condition that they resided there before 1917; the rest – all of them! – must leave. Bear in mind that Palestinian refugee return will be the complement to Jewish expulsion.
Ahmad Shuqayri, the first leader of the PLO, had coined the phrase of "throwing the Jews into the sea" three days before the outbreak of the 1967 Six-Day War.
It did not happen.
Yasser Arafat, three years after the 1993 Oslo Accord, shared a forecast with Arab diplomats in Stockholm: "There will be a migration of Arabs to the West Bank and Jerusalem…We will make life unbearable for the Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion; Jews will not want to live among us. We Palestinians will take everything."
This has not happened.
Mahmoud Darwish, the Palestinian national poet, expressed his people's anguish and wish in addressing the Israelis in 1988: "Take your names with you and go…go where you wish. We have the future…leave our country. So go, it is time for you to go. We have work to do in our land."
An anticipated Jewish national disaster demands decisive action to frustrate an evil design aimed at Israel's existence; or it could be too late. After Jordan expelled Palestinians in 1970, Lebanon in 1982, Kuwait in 1991, Libya in 1995, and Syria in 2015, it becomes morally unobjectionable for Israel to be no less forthright in responding to subversive and disruptive Palestinians in days of crisis and breakdown.
It is time for the Palestinians to go.
*The Zohar (Parashat Lech Lecha) relates that the Ishmaelites [considered the ancestors of the Arabs], descendants from Abraham, earned the right to rule the Holy Land when it is empty of everything for a long time…Then they will block the children of Israel from returning to their place – until the right of the Ishmaelites expires.
The time arrived for the Jews to return home.
Dr. Mordechai Nisanis a retired lecturer in Middle East Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Among his books is The Conscience of Lebanon: A Political Biography of Etienne Sakr (Abu-Arz). His most recent books are Only Israel West of the River: The Jewish State and the Palestinian Question, and The Crack-Up of the Israeli Left (Mantua Books, 2019,, available at Amazon.com.