Israeli Arabs assert their Palestinian identity. . .and join Israel’s government

When I visited Israel for the first time in 1982, I was told that relations between Jews and Israeli Arab were fairly good. In Haifa, where my father-in-law lived, relations were said to be exemplary. After spending time in Haifa and the surrounding region, it seemed to me that this was true.

With the two intifadas, relations deteriorated. By the time my father-in-law died (2003), they weren’t all that good even in Haifa. Or so I understand.

Now, they reportedly have deteriorated to the point that Israeli Arabs held mass demonstrations and engaged in violence in support of Hamas during its most recent conflict with Israel. They have deteriorated to the point that, according to the Washington Post, Arabs in Israel now tend to identify as Palestinians even though they are Israeli citizens.

I lack the expertise to say that whether this development was inevitable (a big word). But I suspect it was.

That’s an academic question. Here’s a more practical one. Given that Israeli Arabs side with Palestinians, and indeed Hamas, in their dispute with Israel, isn’t it lunacy to form a coalition government that includes an Israeli Arab party described as “Islamist” by the Washington Post?

And here’s a pragmatic one. How can a coalition that includes both that Israeli Arab party and a party led by Naftali Bennett who advocates annexing the West Bank and is hated by Arabs (according to the Post, he boasts of killing Arabs during his military service) survive?

The answer to the first question is “yes.” The answer to the second is “it probably can’t.” And given the answer to the first question, it certainly shouldn’t.

Some Israeli Arabs feel the same way. The Post reports that many, especially the younger ones, view Arab participation in a coalition with Bennett as shameful and a betrayal.

They are right to feel that way, given their views on Israel and Palestine. By the same token, members of Bennett’s party and others on the Israeli right should feel that way, too. In fact, it’s surprises me that even moderate and center-left Israeli Jews, no matter how much they hate Benjamin Netanyahu, aren’t disgusted that the new government includes an Islamist, pro-Palestinian party.

I wouldn’t want to live in a country whose government includes a party aligned with a sworn enemy bent on destroying the existing state and driving a majority of its population into the sea. BLM is bad enough.

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