israeltoday – digital edition July 2012
‘The unemployment rate among Israel’s Arab population is climbing sky high. The educational system is in a state of collapse while violence is on the increase—and it appears that Israel’s Arab leaders are more concerned about the bloodshed in Syria. This leadership must go.’
Amar D’shara is one of the many Arab citizens of Israel who are disappointed with their leaders. There are 1.6 million Arabs living in Israel, who are represented by 11 Arab members of the Knesset (parliament). A common criticism of this leadership is that their only interest is in making headlines and winning points for the Palestinian cause, while showing little concern for their own constituents. With an insider’s look at the Israeli Arab community, D’shara had this to say in an open letter:
Our population is suffering from an identity crisis. It is true that the economic situation is bad but the real crisis is rooted in how Israeli Arabs perceive themselves. In Jordan, an Israeli Arab introduces himself as a ‘pre-1948 Arab’ or as a Palestinian Arab, while in Tel Aviv the same person calls himself an ‘Israeli Arab.’ In Europe he lets the title of ‘Arab’ go and introduces himself as an ‘Israeli.’ This is ridiculous and illogical, but it’s our reality.
Our contribution to Israel’s Gross Domestic Product is less than 10 percent. The percentage of Israeli university students who are Arabs is less than our portion of the overall population, which is 20 percent. Among the Arab population, dropping out of high school is at a record high.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Arab population in Israel is bleeding. Role models for the youth of Arab towns such as Tirah and Taybe are crime families. Avoidable quarrels over loud music, forbidden love affairs or debts of as little as a few hundred shekels can be lethal. The Arab leadership is not the only guilty party. Others must also take the blame, but I ask: Where are our leaders who are supposed to be taking care of us? The Arab national leadership takes care of every possible thing – except us.
Siham Agrabiya, whose husband and two sons were murdered in the town of Umm al-Fahm, didn’t go to cry on the shoulder of an Arab official or [Islamic Movement leader] Sheikh Raed Salah. No, she turned to her Jewish ‘uncle,’ [Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu.
In the eyes of our leadership, the Syrian uprising and the Israeli blockade of the Gaza strip are much more important than the problems of the Israeli Arab community. That’s why I must ask my leaders: When the ship is sinking, what is the most important thing to do? Obviously it’s to stop the leak.
When Shimon Peres visited [the Israeli Arab city of] Nazareth during his term as prime minister in 1996, he read a story to a kindergarten class. Nazareth Mayor Ramiz Jaraisy sat next to him. Immediately, Jaraisy was criticized by Arab leaders for meeting with Peres. As then head of state, Peres was seen as responsible for the death of 106 Lebanese civilians in Qana [i.e., Israel’s accidental shelling of a United Nations compound in South Lebanon during Operation ‘Grapes of Wrath’ against the Islamic terrorist group Hezbollah in 1996].
Even if Peres was culpable, it must be remembered that Arab parliamentarians have gone to great lengths to be photographed in Libya with the late tyrant Muammar Gaddafi, who slaughtered his own people like cattle. The typical Arab politician gives the appearance of being a person who stands up for the truth, but he won’t fight for his own people. Each one tears down the other heaping him with criticism. We have to get rid of this Arab leadership as soon as possible and elect one that cares about our future.