On Saturday morning I noticed that one of the tires of my wife’s car was almost flat, so I took the car to our neighbor at the entrance to Qfar Qara, who proceeded to remove the nail that got stuck in the tire and repaired the damage. He charged NIS 30 which is a very reasonable amount, taking into account that I got good service, a friendly smile and honest advice.

The day before, on Friday morning, I went with my wife to another neighbor in Qfar Qara and bought the fruits and vegetables that our family needs for the week. On the way, we stopped at another neighbor, who sold us a nice piece of meat for the Friday night dinner, together with advice on how to prepare it properly and which spices to use. Last Friday we didn’t buy from him any meat, we instead went to another neighbor in Qfar Qara and bought fresh fish, brought in from Fureidis early in the morning after the nice youngster cleaned the fish and made sure we got what we wanted. On the way home, I stopped so that my wife could visit another neighbor in Qfar Qara and buy freshly baked bread for the weekend.

On Friday afternoon I went with my son and daughter to yet another neighbor in Qfar Qara to eat lunch and enjoy the excellent shawarma and hummus he offers us.

Last month, with winter on the way, I called my neighbor in Qfar Qara and he brought me the wood for the stove that I need to heat my home.

Mr. Lieberman, you really want us to boycott our neighbors? From the above it is probably obvious that we will be on the losing end of such nonsense.  Didn’t they use the proverb:” a good neighbor is better than a distant friend” in Russia?

 

No doubt the events in Umm-El Fahm last Saturday are deplorable and cannot be tolerated and the police should aggressively pursue the perpetrators and bring them to justice. But collective punishment is a phenomenon in shady regimes that occupy and degrade another people just to retain control. Much like Israel does in the occupied West Bank. But here we are talking about Israeli citizens, who have been part of Israel since the founding of the State, and who have no wish or intention to change that situation.

And, Mr. Lieberman, you are not in a position to decide the issue of their citizenship for them. Citizenship is a right, not something that can be taken away on racist motivations. People are not sheep you can move and relocate because it fits your racist view of this country.

You say you don’t see Israeli flags in Wadi Ara, they do not identify with Israel, and they do not want to be part of us. It is so easy to spread lies because nobody is going to check anyway and when you say what your followers want to hear it doesn’t matter if what you say is the truth or a self-serving lie. Also if it smears a whole segment of the Israeli population.

The truth is that a large majority of the Arab population in Israel, also the Muslim population wants to live under an Israeli government and not a Palestinian government. Most Arabs have roots here from way before the establishment of the State and feel part, and want to be part.

When Haredim protest in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, they are often more violent than what we saw in Wadi Ara last week, and no Israeli flags are ever used in Haredim demonstrations. So why doesn’t Lieberman (or anyone else for that matter) call for the expulsion of the Haredim, why doesn’t Lieberman want to take away their citizenship? They are not identifying with Israel at all, and don’t recognize the State (except of course for the money Israel supplies them with).

The settler population in the occupied territories is known to sometimes demonstrate and protest in a very violent manner, shouting slurs like “Nazi” and worse at security personnel, but I never heard Lieberman demand that the Occupied Territories, where these settlers live, be returned to Palestine. Of course the settlers do use the Israeli flag, and abundantly so. They use the flag so prominently that what was once a State symbol is no more like a sign of identification with the occupation and all the ugly aspects of it. So much so, that I, as a law-abiding citizen, do no longer put out the Israeli flag, not even on Independence Day, for fear of being identified with the settlers and their goals.

So why don’t the Arabs in Wadi Ara proudly show the Israeli flag, even though they are citizens of Israel?

Maybe because they have been discriminated against in practically every aspect of life since the creation of the State of Israel that found them part of an entity that was hostile towards them from the start? Discriminated against in Education? Discriminated against in Employment Opportunities? Discriminated against in Land Allocation? Discriminated against in Municipal Services?  Discriminated against when they travel abroad?

Even though Israeli law (still) calls for equality and does not condone discrimination for any reason, the Arab population has felt that reality is different. So how do you, Minister Lieberman, expect them to be enthusiastic about the State of Israel?

Mr. Lieberman, would you feel solidarity and “a sense of belonging” when you know that 13 Israeli citizens were killed by Israeli police and that nobody was made to pay for this crime. The State of Israel killed 13 of its citizens and decided not to prosecute the perpetrators. The Or commission wrote: “The Events of October 2000 shook the Earth”. But then proceeded and refrained from clear recommendations to bring those responsible to justice.

The Arab population in Israel is here to stay and also Lieberman will not be able to change that. It is up to the Israeli government to make them a real part of Israel, integrated, productive and with that also will come pride. Incitement of Israeli officials against the Arab population will not make them go away.

Calls for boycotts are nothing but racist and stupid. My neighbors are nice, friendly people, and I enjoy using the services they offer.

Come visit Mr. Lieberman, the Shawarma is on me.


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