BASHARAT: I’d move to Palestine, if it were real 16Jan14 January 16, 2014

by Oudeh Basharat
14 January 2014

3023295901The creature known as the Arab citizen was the product of a traumatic rape. Yet even he has the right to think about his future.

There are those who see Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s comments about transferring the Triangle region and all its Arab residents to the Palestinian Authority as a devastating blow to Israel’s Arab citizens who, when push comes to shove, would prefer to live in Israel, despite their sloganeering.

But I’m prepared to move, provided that Palestine will be a real country in every way and not just a punching bag. Provided that this longed-for state will have defensible borders, and not porous ones that wink at the neighborhood bully. That there will a Palestinian Defense Force that will defend the state from the sickly hunger of one of its neighbors and that its air force will be able to scare off all attackers. That defensible territorial waters will be assured, with Palestinian missile boats on the lookout; moreover, those Palestinian territorial waters must be under full Palestinian sovereignty, so that there will be no need to worry about the neighbor’s missile boats. That all activities by the “hilltop youth” be stopped, or that they will be punished by Palestinian legal authorities. That the neighbor’s military will not conduct night raids with undercover forces.

Just to be sure, I would also ask that my neighbor, given its history of conquests, be stripped of its offensive weapons. And I’d want the freedom to act against those strongholds of aggression which dispatch the forces who carry out acts of death and destruction against my people. I would also want my future country, whose treasures and waters have been plundered, to receive adequate compensation that will help close decades-long gaps. If there’s any point in going further, I will do so during proper negotiations.

Now that Israel has destroyed, and continues to destroy, the lands of the intended state, Lieberman’s aim is to transfer Arabs from Israel to the Palestinian punching bag, so that they, too, can be subject to the harassment that is the lot of the veteran Palestinian population. In workers’ union parlance this is known as a worsening of conditions; courts punish business owners who worsen the conditions of their employees. The court, in our case, would be the International Criminal Court at The Hague, because to transfer a mass of innocent civilians to a country-sized prison camp is a type of crime against humanity.

If Lieberman were not around, the Palestinian propaganda machine would have to invent him. After all, his desire to remove citizens from the state of the Jews because of their origins also serves as an amazing argument against recognizing Israel as the Jewish state. A state in which non-Jews are considered property, to be moved from place to place as needed. And if its public face, its foreign minister, exudes racism – well, the nature of that country is clear.

But leaving Lieberman’s provocative discourse aside, the Arab public has to start speaking out clearly about what it wants. If Arabs do not want to be part of the Palestinian state, and justifiably so, and they do not want to live in a political and geographically autonomous area, and justifiably so – then they must declare out loud that the best thing for us is to remain Israeli citizens.

It’s about time that we fight in order not to be aliens in this country. To demand that its character be democratic and accepting of everyone, that its symbols represent everyone, and that everyone share in its resources. Because despite everything, there are some impressive islands of Jewish-Arab cooperation here and furthermore, despite everything, Israeli Arabs enjoy significant rights that we must fight to broaden.

It’s true that this creature known as the Arab citizen was not the product of a torrid night of love, but rather the product of a traumatic rape. Yet even this reject who everyone has disowned has the right to think about his future, without giving up his identity or affiliation with the Palestinian people, and to take part in the struggle for his rights. After 65 years, it’s time to move from being victims to being partners. It’s time to “switch discs” regarding our neighbors, the Jewish citizens, the overwhelming majority of whom were born after that traumatic night, and seek dialogue and cooperation. It’s much more promising than aversion and alienation.

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