'Kassaming' coexistence

What the most liberal component of Israeli Arab society envisions for the Jewish state.

kassam quds 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
kassam quds 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
As Hamas resumed rocket barrages on Israel last week, Israeli Arab leaders fired another salvo in their own war against the country. Their methods are different, but the goal is unabashedly the same: eliminating the "Zionist entity." The Haifa Declaration, published last Monday by some 50 intellectuals and political activists, is the fourth and final document in a series outlining Israeli Arab leaders' vision of what Israel should be. The others were the Mossawa Center's 10 Points, the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee's Future Vision and Adalah's Democratic Constitution. Together, these documents' drafters comprise virtually the entire political, intellectual and civil society leadership of the Israeli Arab community, excluding the Islamic Movement. And their almost identical prescriptions leave no doubt about their common goal. The Haifa Declaration, unusually, tries to conceal this goal by stating that should Israel accept its demands, the Arabs would in turn recognize the "Israeli Jewish people's" right to self-determination. However, its demands make a mockery of that promise. The main demands are as follows: 1. Establishing a Palestinian state - whose residents would then be given the right to relocate to Israel (and vice versa). 2. Letting 4.4 million descendants of Palestinian refugees "return" to Israel. 3. Repealing the Law of Return, which entitles Jews worldwide to immigrate to Israel. 4. Making Israel a "state based on equality between the two national groups." 5. Giving Israeli Arabs veto power over issues that affect them. Some of these are mutually contradictory: If, for instance, millions of Palestinians indeed moved to Israel, there would be no need for an Arab veto; they would become the majority, and no decision would pass without their consent in any case. What all have in common, however, is emptying the Jewish people's "right to self-determination" of any content. The first two would accomplish this by making the Jews a minority in their own country, thereby eliminating their ability to control national decision-making. That negates the very essence of self-determination: a group's right to govern itself. The third has a dual goal: facilitating Arab efforts to achieve majority status and destroying Israel's character as the Jewish national home. After all, a national home is precisely where someone tired of minority status elsewhere can go to enjoy national self-determination. That is why even liberal democracies such as Germany, Finland, Ireland and Poland have fast-track immigration procedures for members of the dominant national group. Under the Haifa Declaration, Palestinians living abroad could move either to the Palestinian state or the new binational Israel. Jews living abroad would be able to do neither. Numbers four and five seek to curtail Jewish self-determination even should Jews remain a majority here, by making Israel binational (i.e. "based on equality between the two national groups") and giving the Arab minority veto rights over decisions that affect them. Similar arrangements do exist elsewhere, though usually only where competing ethnic groups are closer in size, and such arrangements obviously limit each group's ability to govern itself. A binational Israel, however, would eviscerate Jewish self-government, affecting everything from defense policy to school curricula. THIS PRINCIPLE would, for instance, enable Israeli Arabs to veto any military response to terror attacks on Jews, as this community views residents of all the surrounding countries as kinsmen and therefore considers itself negatively affected by military action against them. That would eliminate a crucial element of self-determination: the right to self-defense. Similarly, the document explicitly requires Israel to acknowledge full responsibility for "the Nakba" (the 1948 refugee crisis) and "the occupation," and "acknowledging" obviously precludes educating one's children to the contrary. Thus schools would be barred from teaching about Arab responsibility for the refugee crisis - the Arabs' rejection of the 1947 Partition Plan, which would have created a Palestinian state, and the subsequent attack on nascent Israel by five Arab armies, sparking a war in which some 600,000 Arabs fled - or for the "occupation," which began when Israel defeated three Arab armies that massed on its borders in 1967 with the declared intention of destroying it. Jewish schools in Israel would in fact have less control over curricula than Jewish schools in America and Europe. In short, for all the lip service about Jewish self-determination, the document essentially proposes two Palestinian national homelands (the Palestinian state and the binational or Palestinian-majority "Israel") and no Jewish one. What makes this document particularly chilling is that it undoubtedly represents the most liberal component of Israeli Arab society: For instance, it explicitly declares that women are oppressed within Arab society and demands that this stop; it even unequivocally condemns "family honor" killings. But if even the most liberal Israeli Arabs refuse to accept a Jewish state, what hope is there for coexistence? Ironically, this declaration and its predecessors were produced with funding from European and Jewish groups that seek to promote coexistence. The Haifa document was initiated by the Mada al-Carmel organization, whose donors include a Canadian government foundation and an American Jewish group, the New Israel Fund (NIF). The Mossawa Center's donors include the European Commission, the German government, two European nonprofits and two Jewish organizations, including NIF. Adalah's donors include the European Commission, the Swiss government, several European nonprofits and at least two Jewish groups, again including NIF. Yet by funding such projects, far from promoting coexistence, they are promoting an Israeli Arab campaign to eliminate the Jewish state - thereby convincing many Israeli Jews that coexistence is impossible. Equally ironically, these same Israeli Arab leaders complain constantly about being called a "fifth column," proposals to "transfer" their towns to a Palestinian state and polls showing that many Israeli Jews view Israeli Arabs as a security and demographic threat. But when they openly declare that their goal is eradicating the Jewish state, the only surprise is that such phenomena are not more widespread. Israeli Arab leaders, and their Jewish and European donors, should understand one thing: Israel's Jewish majority will never willingly concede its national home. Thus by encouraging aspirations to destroy the Jewish state rather than encouraging acceptance of it, they are sowing the seeds not of coexistence, but of civil war.