Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Israel is a nation of just over seven million people comprised of slightly in excess of 5-million Jews and another million-plus citizens that are Arab Palestinians, (Muslims and Christians) Bedouin and Druze. The number of Israeli Jews is roughly similar to that of American Jews. The nation is surrounded by Arab countries most of which have been at war with Israel over its 60-year existence. Aside from Egypt and Jordan which have signed peace agreements with Israel, relations with its neighbours range from cordial to uneasy to threatening.

Although no country-to-country war has been fought in decades, Israel remains beset by armed incursions by terror groups and regular bombing within its borders by irregular armies of 'resisters' to Israeli 'occupation' of Palestinian land. The guerrilla armies of Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Hamas and other smaller factions all dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state constitute an everpresent threat to its population. The Islamic State of Iran presents as an even greater threat, vowing to eradicate Israel from the Middle East.

Its proxy armies of Hezbollah and Hamas remain front-and-centre in both Iran's and Syria's bonded dualism of destruction of Israel as their first order of business; Syria to regain the Golan Heights and to assuage its hatred of Jews and Israel, Iran to destroy a country and a benighted people whose spurning of Islam cannot be countenanced. And Lebanon, through the political power that Hezbollah, Syria and Iran now exert within it, the third of the triangulated axis.

As though that were not sufficient to cause each and every adult Israeli nightmares of anticipated disaster, the very people residing within the country, as Israeli-Arabs to whom Israel has granted full citizenship and who share in the political process by electing their own Arab-Israeli representatives to the Knesset increasingly demonstrate a growing antipathy to their own state.

Professor Sami Samocha of Haifa University has published results from the latest annual "Jewish Arab Relations Meter" that reveal 2 of every 5 Arab citizens of Israel, 40.5%, claim the Holocaust to be a myth, up from the 28% who denied the Holocaust in a survey taken three years earlier. Holocaust-denial is a given among the Arab population, inclusive of the 37% of Arabs with higher educations.

Taking their cue from the PA's Mahmoud Abbas, 41% of Israel's Arab citizens now recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish, democratic state as opposed to the 65.6% who recognized that right in 2003. While 53.7% agree with Israel's right to exist as an independent state at all, compared with 2003's 81.1% Another 56% of Arabs feel the 'right of return' of Arab 'refugees' should not be permitted into Israel's pre-1967 borders compared to the 72.2% who felt that way three years earlier.

Those who claimed to have participated in 'protest actions' over the last year numbered 44%, compared with the 28.7% who did in 2003, and 12.6% are in support of utilizing 'all means, including weapons' in the battle to 'improve their situation'. Up from the 5.4% who claimed similarly three years earlier. Arab citizens of Israel who feel comfortable with Arab children studying in a Jewish school represent 53.8% in proportion down from an earlier 70.5%.

Three years ago 27.2% of Israeli Arab citizens preferred not to accept Jews as close neighbours, and that number now stands at 47.3%. Not to worry over these statistics, according to Professor Samocha. Despite the hardening of positions, the obvious widening of the solitudes between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs in the opinion of Israel's Arab populations, no serious deterioration in the traditional stances has really penetrated the perceptions of the Arab population.

In reality, Israeli Arabs wish to live together with their Jewish neighbours - albeit not right next door, in peace and security. In other words, as much as they detest, distrust and decry their Jewish counterparts, they would still far prefer to live in the Jewish state with the freedoms and opportunities open to them, in comparison to living in a majority Arab state where none of those freedoms and opportunities can be assured.

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