Israeli Arabs growing angrier, experts say : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Monday, November 6 2000 14:48 8 Heshvan 5761

Israeli Arabs growing angrier, experts say Background By David Rudge

(November 6) - Disenchantment among Israeli Arabs, coupled with the feeling that they have been humiliated by Prime Minister Ehud Barak and ongoing events in the territories, have combined to create a volcanic atmosphere than can erupt at almost any time, according to Prof. Aziz Haider, a leading sociologist from the Hebrew University's Truman Institute and Al-Quds University.

Further, Haider, a resident of Majdal Krum village near Karmiel in the Galilee, said Arab MKs who had been accused by Jewish MKs of giving voice to "extremist rhetoric" were actually being criticized by some members of the Arab community for not going far enough in their anti-Israel statements.

"A large segment of the population actually accuses them of being too soft," he said.

Many in the Arab electorate bemoan what they call the ineffectiveness of Arab MKs in helping to improve the lot of Israeli Arabs generally, Haider added.

"There are many complaints that they have received little or nothing in return for their support, and they accuse the MKs of not being sufficiently aggressive. On external issues [the Palestinian question], they don't feel that the MKs have much of an influence," he said.

Haider is to participate in a conference next Sunday on the subject of Israel's Arab minority and the dilemma of their dual identity as both Palestinians and citizens of the state. The conference is being organized by Tel Aviv University's Dayan Center to mark the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the university's Adenauer Program on Arab Politics in Israel, headed by Dr. Elie Rekhess.

Rekhess, an adviser to Culture and Sport Minister Matan Vilna'i, who heads the emergency committee established by the government to repair ties between Israeli Arabs and the state following to October riots, said the rhetoric of Arab MKs would perhaps have had less impact had the problems of the Arab sector been dealt with previously.

Rekhess maintained that neglect of the Arab community, more than anything else, contributed to the violent clashes in October.

"As a result of the peace process and the prospect of a permanent settlement [of the Palestinian problem], Israeli Arabs found themselves in a situation which one Arab scholar described as double marginality," said Rekhess.

"It became clear to them that the solution to their national identity was not to be found in the establishment of a Palestinian state, but in Israel they also faced difficulties of integration and equality.

"The identification of Israeli Arabs with the 'Al-Aksa intifada' is an expression of these new trends and that when Al-Aksa, in their view, is threatened, Nazareth bursts into flames. At the same time, they are determined to intensify their struggle for equality within Israel on the national, political, and material levels," Rekhess added.

Haider maintained that the outburst in the Arab sector at the beginning of last month was the result of a combination of factors. These included frustration, bitterness and anger over what Arabs see as ongoing discriminatory policies of successive governments, the issue of jurisdiction over holy sites, and the connection of most Arabs to the plight of their Palestinian brethren.

Additionally, Arabs who had voted overwhelmingly for Barak felt he had ignored and even insulted them afterward by refusing to meet with their representatives.

Unemployment in many towns and villages had reached record highs, compounded by problems in education, housing, illegal building, health and welfare services, municipal budgets, and development projects.

Nevertheless, Haider maintained that the vast majority of Arabs want to be equal citizens of Israel. "There is still a desire to be integrated into Israeli society, despite the problems. There may be a few who reject the [Jewish] state, but in general most accept the existence of Israel as a fact and don't think about the situation beforehand or any other situation," he said. "When talking about solutions, they think in terms of two states for two peoples, which takes into account the de facto existence of Israel," he said.

-- Martin Thompson (, November 06, 2000

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