Op-ed: Outlawing the Islamic Movement is an opportunity, as it requires a clear policy towards the loyal majority of Israeli Arabs who oppose terror.

These words are dedicated to G. from the village of ‘Ara, to H. from Jaffa, to Dr. S. from the Upper Galilee, to R. from Nazareth and to other friends from the Arab “sector.” Occasionally they speak up; occasionally they keep quiet. Sometimes we agree, and sometimes we yell at each other. That’s the way it is among friends.

There is one more thing I know: I can count on each and every one of them blindly, even after not talking to each other for months. They are Palestinian and they are Israeli, and they belong to a minority which wants to be and is trying to be – and sometimes succeeding – part of the Israeli existence.

They represent an important stream among Israel’s Arab population. According to the latest survey conducted by Prof. Sammy Smooha, they make up 42 percent of Arabs which recognize Israel as a state with a Jewish majority.

According to previous surveys, more than 50 percent of young Israeli Arabs are in favor of volunteering for national service. They are trying to be loyal both to their people and to their state, and it’s not easy. With people like Azmi Bishara, Hanin Zoabi and Raed Salah in the background, and when Father Gabriel Naddaf suffers from violence for supporting IDF enlistment, many prefer to keep a low profile.

For each person who supports Hamas or the Islamic State, there are hundreds who oppose terror. Israel must do much more to increase equality and integration (Photo: Roy Iddan)
For each person who supports Hamas or the Islamic State, there are hundreds who oppose terror. Israel must do much more to increase equality and integration (Photo: Roy Iddan)

They belong to quite a large group of people who have gained personal and professional success. They have done it thanks to the state and despite the hostility and discrimination from their surroundings and sometimes from the state as well.

When one of them, or those who are like them, voices his moderate views, he is ridiculed not only by the screamers in his own sector, but also by the screamers of the Left in the Jewish sector, who want their Arab angry and full of hatred against the apartheid state they paint in their wild imagination.

S., a hospital department head, and G., a successful businessman who has a company with which companies in central Israel prefer to work because it’s better, despise such Jews. In their eyes, they are no different from the fascists in the Right, as both encourage hatred and hostility.

The apartheid claims are nonsense and a lie, and the Adalah organization’s list of “apartheid laws,” which stars in anti-Israel propaganda, is pure deception. There isn’t a single law there which smells of apartheid.

Nonetheless, Israel is far from being perfect. Not all of the arguments made by Israel’s Arabs are groundless. We should do more and we must do more, much more, for equality and integration. Not that it will change anything as far as Zoabi or Salah are concerned. They will keep spreading poison. But we must not despair because of the inciters. It will be their victory.

So why do they vote for a hostile party, once Balad and now the Joint List? Well, not everyone who votes for these parties is necessarily anti-Israel. This vote is the result of one’s identity. Not every Jew who votes Likud or Bayit Yehudi hates Arabs. And in any event, about a third of the Right’s voters would have supported a far-reaching compromise in exchange for true peace, which is slightly hard to achieve. So the Arab vote is largely a mirror image of the Jewish vote.

The “other” Arabs are not the majority, but they are not a small minority either. They care about the language and attitude of the Jewish majority. One of them wrote to me, after I wrote about the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem during the Holocaust, that those days in Paris and in Northern African countries there were Muslim righteous among the nations who were busy saving Jews, and these days there are Muslim intellectuals who write against anti-Semitism in a blatant manner. He is right. We must not ignore the inciters, and we must not ignore the sane, enlightened stream which fights racism.

While the situation of Israel’s Arabs is relatively better than the situation of Muslims in Europe, it’s not enough. Israel must do more, much more, to increase equality and participation.

For each person who supports Hamas or the Islamic State, there are hundreds who oppose terror. They won’t become Zionist. The disputes will remain. Butoutlawing the Islamic Movementis actually an opportunity, because it requires a clear policy towards the loyal majority.

Only racists exempt the Arabs from being responsible for their situation. But the ball, we must not forget, is also in our court.