Israeli Arabs are Israeli, not Palestinian

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Opinion: Raising the Palestinian flag in protest of the Trump peace plan was an act of solidarity, not identity; no one could remain indifferent as their brothers buckle under the weight of occupation, but we will not be handed over to a different country when we belong here

Shakib Ali-  www.ynetnews.com

The raising of Palestinian flags in protest against the “Deal of the Century deal” and the proposal to transfer sovereignty over the Triangle (a cluster of Arab towns and cities near the Green Line) to a future Palestinian state has caused a small yet familiar storm.

Many Jews, and indeed quite a few Arabs, have asked how it is possible to wave the flag of the Palestinian Authority while resisting falling under its sovereignty.

I am positive that there is not one Arab citizen of Israel who wants to live under the control of any Arab ruler in any Arab state, including the State of Palestine.

In Arab society, there is even a saying that “Israeli Jewish hell is better than the paradise of the Arab states.”

Yes, the Arab states have civil equality among its residents, but you will not find liberty and or freedom of speech.

There is neither human dignity nor liberty nor a high court of justice.

An Israeli Arab who is used to demonstrating and yelling in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv against the policy of the government and those who lead it would not be able to do that – and survive – in Damascus or any of the Gulf states.

The reign of eternal tyrants in Arab nations is as far removed from the experiences of Israeli Arabs as we are from the Stone Age.

Raising the Palestinian flag during the protests against the Trump plan was an act of identification, not identity.

It does not signify a desire to live under the rule of a Palestinian state but shows solidarity with the Palestinian people and their just struggle against the occupation and injustice inflicted by Israel – from imprisoning Palestinians in enclaves, through the daily torment of checkpoints, to the arrests of children living in abject poverty.

Arab citizens of Israel cannot remain indifferent they see their people collapsing under the burden of the occupation, dispossessed of their land and removed from their homes.

Every day they see groups of violent, law-breaking settlers vent their anger and hatred on Palestinian olive trees, destroy wells and drive away herds of sheep, destroy homes that Israel claims were built in contravention of the Oslo Accords, and they cannot ignore it.

So they express their cries of pain by raising the Palestinian flag, even in the very heart of Tel Aviv, with the apparently naïve purpose of making the Jewish public see and hear their pain and perhaps also wake up and take to the streets for sake of the Palestinian people.

Granted, there have been more serious acts in the past than flag raising. There have been Arab politicians who damaged the fabric of Jewish-Arab relations by participating in the Gaza flotilla in 2010, who transferred mobile phones to security prisoners and made statements that caused the Jewish public to think their attitude towards the Arab population.

But it is worth remembering that not all members of the Joint List are enthusiasts of the Arab nationalist party Balad or of the flotillas, nor do all Balad members have a uniformly abrasive attitude toward the average Israeli.

The Arab public cannot vote for Zionist parties while they are not included in them. For most of the Zionist parties stripped the Arabs from their ranks and chose a course of alienation and arrogance.

The Joint List remained the party close to their hearts and one that faithfully reflects them.

So with a little sensitivity, the Israeli public can understand what is in the hearts of their Arab co-citizens. Hoisting the Palestine flag was not done out of the desire to replace Israeli rule with Palestinian rule, but merely to express support for the Arabs buckling under the burden of the occupation.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did well when he announced that the Palestinian state does not want the Triangle, or MK Ahmed Tibi or even Joint List head Ayman Odeh (who is actually from Haifa). To him, they are Israeli in every respect.

Any Israeli attempt to dispose of them as a condition for the establishment of a Palestinian state should be firmly rejected.

 

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