Israel's Arabs v. Israel

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Abstract

October 1, 2000, a day when most Israelis were observing the Jewish new year, was also the second day of the "al-Aqsa intifada," a campaign of anti-Israel violence planned and coordinated by Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Authority after the collapse of the Camp David talks in July. It was also a day on which, to add shock to shock, Arab citizens of Israel unleashed their own wave of violence against their Jewish compatriots. For the next ten days, Israeli Arabs blocked several main roads, cutting off Jewish localities and forcing some of them to defend against armed assaults by neighbors with whom they had maintained cordial relations for decades. Scores of Jewish families spending the holiday season in the Galilee found themselves attacked by frenzied Arab mobs wielding Molotov cocktails, ball bearings in slingshots, stones, even firearms. Stores, post offices, and other public places were ransacked as rioters clashed with police. Forests were set ablaze. In Nazareth, thousands of Arabs marched in the streets chanting, "With our souls and our blood we will redeem Palestine." Jaffa and Haifa, the showcases of Arab-Jewish coexistence, were rocked by violence and vandalism. That was three years ago. This past September, an Israeli state commission of inquiry headed by deputy chief justice Theodore Orr finally submitted its official report on the riots. Acknowledging the strong chauvinistic impulse behind them, the commission noted grimly that "Jews were attacked on the roads merely for being Jewish," and it rebuked Israeli Arab leaders not only for failing to direct their grievances into democratic channels but also for having worked over the years to delegitimize the state and its institutions in the eyes of their constituents. Yet even while denouncing such actions as "incompatible with the concept of citizenship," the Orr commission refrained from proposing disciplinary measures against Israeli Arab leaders who had incited their fellow Arabs to violence. Instead, it attributed the volcanic eruption to something else entirely-namely, a longstanding callousness on the part of the Israeli establishment itself toward the state's Arab minority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-27
Number of pages7
JournalCommentary
Volume116
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes

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