Although some of Israel’s Arabs have reached the uppermost echelons of the only democracy in the Middle East — serving in the nation’s legislature, its diplomatic corps as Israeli ambassadors, and in its judiciary as judges — many more are far from assimilated.
Of the vast majority who have not made it to the top, he writes:
…these assimilated few pale beside the discontented masses who identify with Land Day, Nakba Day, and the Future Vision report. Revealingly, most Israeli Arab parliamentarians, such as Ahmed Tibi and Haneen Zuabi, are hotheads spewing rank anti-Zionism. Israeli Arabs have increasingly resorted to violence against their Jewish co-nationals.
Dr. Pipes has just returned from Israel where he traveled to Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa, Nazareth, the Golan Heights, Baqa al-Gharbiya, Acre, and Umm al-Fahm.
His purpose? To meet with mainstream Arab and Jewish Israelis to ask the question, “Can ethnic Arabs, who account for 20% of the population, be loyal citizens of Israel?” His answer:
…Israeli Arabs live with two paradoxes. Although they suffer discrimination within Israel, they enjoy more rights and greater stability than any Arab populace living in their own sovereign countries (think Egypt or Syria). Second, they hold citizenship in a country that their fellow Arabs malign and threaten with annihilation.
Since 1949, the Arab population of Israel has increased tenfold. Dr. Pipes — who speaks fluent Arabic and was thus able to conduct his conversations in that language — writes:
I found most Arabic-speaking citizens to be intensely conflicted about living in a Jewish polity. On the one hand, they resent Judaism as the country’s privileged religion, the Law of Return that permits only Jews to immigrate at will, Hebrew as the primary language of state, the Star of David in the flag, and mention of the “Jewish soul” in the anthem. On the other hand, they appreciate the country’s economic success, standard of health care, rule of law, and functioning democracy.
Of his attempts to understand the real situation of Israeli Arabs today, particularly their Janus-faced relationship to Islam while also enjoying political freedom as citizens of the Jewish state, Dr. Pipes writes:
My interlocutors generally brushed aside questions about Islam. It almost felt impolite to mention the Islamic imperative that Muslims (who make up 84 percent of the Israeli Arab population) rule themselves, Discussing the Islamic drive for application of Islamic law drew blank looks and a shift to more immediate topics.
This avoidance reminded me of Turkey before 2002, when mainstream Turks assumed that Atatürk’s revolution was permanent and assumed Islamists would remain a fringe phenomenon. They proved very wrong: a decade after Islamists democratically rode to power in late 2002, the elected government steadily applied more Islamic laws and built a neo-Ottoman regional power.
Dr. Pipes concludes with a grim and all-too-credible prediction:
I predict a similar evolution in Israel, as Israeli Arab paradoxes grow more acute. Muslim citizens of Israel will continue to grow in numbers, skills, and confidence, becoming simultaneously more integral to the country’s life and more ambitious to throw off Jewish sovereignty.
…as Israel overcomes external threats, Israeli Arabs will emerge as an ever-greater concern. Indeed, I predict they represent the ultimate obstacle to establishing the Jewish homeland anticipated by Theodor Herzl and Lord Balfour…
Ironically, the greatest impediment to these actions will be that most Israeli Arabs emphatically wish to remain disloyal citizens of the Jewish state (as opposed to loyal citizens of a Palestinian state). Furthermore, many other Middle Eastern Muslims aspire to become Israelis. These preferences, I predict, will stymie the government of Israel, which will not develop adequate responses, thereby turning today’s relative quiet into tomorrow’s crisis.
Look for my forthcoming column on PJM on the extraordinary accuracy of Dr. Pipes’ predictions over the past three decades, when he was invariably the sole analyst making the forecasts he did. It will present the evidence to support my confidence in the accuracy of his troubling prediction in The Washington Times today. I urge all interested readers to read his full article.