A Debate on “Future vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel”

In bitterlemons.org, a debate about “Future vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel”, a document by National Committee of the Heads of Arab Local Councils and endorsed by the Supreme Follow-up Committee of the Arabs in Israel. A Palestinian view, Ghassan Khatib:

This document is inspired not only by the inequality Palestinian citizens of Israel face, but also by the Israeli Jewish insistence–an insistence that came to the surface most clearly during the years of the peace process–that Israel should be recognized as a Jewish state.

How can this be, leaders of the Palestinian community in Israel asked, when one-fifth of the population is non-Jewish? Would it not be more democratic and civilized if Israel considered itself a state of all its citizens?

But the document, which has created a lot of controversy in Israel with often shrill reactions, is significant for more than one reason.

And an Israeli view, Yossi Alper:

For nearly all Israeli Jews it is also a profoundly disturbing document. Yet this should not come as a surprise. After nearly 60 years of neglect, prejudice and poor treatment on the part of the Israeli establishment, and despite repeated violent incidents and policy-oriented research efforts that sounded a sharp warning, the Arabs of Israel are declaring their demand for a full-fledged bi-national state (“consociational democracy”) that would give Arabs a veto over Israel’s Jewish content and symbols.

That Israel’s Arabs demand equal land and education rights is of course fully justified. But this document goes much further. Most disturbing of all–and here the years of neglect cannot be blamed–the document can be understood to bring its authors into line with those in the Arab and Islamic world who refuse to accept the existence of a Jewish people at all, much less one with legitimate roots in the Middle East.