Recently, the National Religious Party in Israel sponsored a bill in the Knesset that would have allowed the Jewish Agency to allocate land for Jewish-only communities. This proposal immediately incited a squall of criticism from all sides. Israel’s sensitivity to cries of racism is often enough to force second thoughts regarding legislation, but the opposition to this bill from both the Right and the Left within Israel was so intense that only a day after it was proposed, Ariel Sharon was prompted to delay any action, and within a week the Cabinet voted to toss the proposed law altogether.
The government’s reaction against the proposition is prudent, further demonstrating the moral superiority of Israel, in distinct contrast to its Arab neighbors. The harsh criticism against it, however, is unwarranted and misdirected. The BBC and the New York Times, news outlets that rarely have a problem with ruthless Arab dictatorships in Middle East, both lectured Israel about the corrosive "segregation" policies of the far Right. Opponents of Zionism labeled the non-law racist and made their perfunctory comparisons to apartheid in South Africa. Their point, of course, is preposterous given that there is no enforced segregation among Jews and Arabs in Israel – a fact which provides suicide bombers comfortable access to Israel’s main city centers.
In a recent editorial, Jack Kemp wrote, “blacks, women and American Indians in the United States have had to fight for their place in the American dream. So, too, are Arab Israelis having to fight for their place in the Zionist dream.” Now, Jack Kemp is an intelligent man and his accomplishments speak for themselves; nevertheless, his statement is one of the most naïve ever written regarding Arabs.
Arabs in Israel have already been awarded full social and political equality. Despite these generous privileges, the majority of Arabs do not see themselves as disadvantaged citizens in a democracy, fighting for equality, but rather as partisan Palestinians temporarily living under Zionist occupation. The majority do not seek to participate in an egalitarian society to better their lives or to strengthen Israel’s democracy, but rather to demolish the society that offers them freedoms that they could never imagine in the Arab world.
Any societal inequity against Arabs, so often pointed out, is solely a consequence of well-founded Jewish fears, and Arab views and affiliations that are increasingly aggressive. In a free nation, citizens are not forced to live together, they are not forced to love each other, however, there is a nominal expectation of peaceful co-existence. After years of terror and unjustifiable war against them, some of it supported by Arabs in Israel, it can be said that Jews have shown an unparalleled acceptance of their Arab population.
Arabs in Israel have equal voting rights and currently have 10 representatives in the 120-member Knesset. Israel, where along with Hebrew, Arabic is an official language, Arab women are given an equal vote, something they lack in the majority of Arab countries. For Arabs in Israel, the median years of schooling rose over a 35-year period (1961-1996) from 1.2 to 10.4 years. Infant death rates per thousand live births decreased significantly during that same period. The life expectancy of the Arabs in Israel has grown over the past forty years from about 52 years to over 70 years and is just slightly below that of the Jewish population. The Israeli government recently took it upon itself to "act to grant equal and fair conditions to Israeli Arabs in the economic sphere, in particular in the areas of education, housing and employment" and "to reduce the gaps between the Arab and Jewish sectors". The total cost of the multi-year plan is around one billion US dollars.
A recent example of Arab attitudes in Israel is demonstrated by their reaction to a law approved by the Knesset, wherein dependents of Israelis who commit terrorist acts will no longer be entitled to receive monthly compensation grants from the National Insurance Institute. The law was approved in a 22-8 vote. Voting against it were representatives from all Arab parties. Representative Issam Mahoul said the law institutionalizes "collective punishment." He said the money "does not benefit the dead," but is for children who should not be punished. Arab killers’ families apparently need Israel funds in addition to the checks they receive from Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
All through these sideshows, the practice of organized terror, or what Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher called "accidents," continues unabated. Two Palestinian suicide bombers killed three people in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, a day after a West Bank bus ambush that took eight Israeli lives. The recently proposed law was designed to help stop this terror and the expansion of Arab territory within the Israel proper to preserve Israel’s unique and historical identity as a Jewish state. Because Israel is at war and every Arab-owned piece of land is in essence future occupied territory. The recent proposal might have been undemocratic, but the reasoning behind it is quite sound.