Akiva Eldar
Haaretz (Opinion)
October 18, 2010 - 12:00am

Not long ago, during a meeting with foreign reporters, Avigdor Lieberman quoted a statement attributed to Abba Eban describing the 1967 borders as "Auschwitz borders." Immediately afterward, the foreign minister presented the "plan" to move territories west of those "Auschwitz borders" so they would be under the jurisdiction of a foreign element (namely, the Palestinians ) which, he claimed, seeks to throw the Jews into the sea. In order to be rid of the Arab population in Israel in return for annexing the "settlement blocs," Lieberman proposes contracting Israel's narrow waist even further.

In Lieberman's "best case scenario," in which Israel will surrender the Wadi Ara highway (and, incidentally, also have to relocate three Jewish communities ), shifting the "Auschwitz borders" toward the sea, not even 11 percent of the population of Arab Israelis will be "diminished." Their living space accounts for less than two percent of the territory of the West Bank, a little less than the "blocs" that Lieberman and his fellow settlers are eager to obtain.

It is hard to imagine that a patriot like Lieberman does not know the map of the beloved homeland and does not know that exchanging populated areas as a solution to the conflict is baseless. Even from his point of view, which is far from being moral or democratic, his "plan" has nothing to do with the desire to transform Israel into a more Jewish state. Its main contribution, like that of the amendment to the citizenship law, is to make the Arab minority in Israel more Palestinian.

When a child from Baka al-Garbiyeh, who attends a Jewish-Arab school in Kafr Kara, listens to the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister deliver a speech at the United Nations on the transfer of Arab Israelis, he realizes that the country in which he was born does not want him. When a student from Kafr Qasem, who studies at Ariel College, reads about the prime minister's demand that the Palestinians declare morning, noon and night that Israel is the state of the Jewish people, she understands this is not her country.

The research conducted by University of Haifa sociology professor Sami Samocha suggests a trend which the Israel Prize laureate describes as the "Israelization" of Israeli Arabs. His findings indicate that they are undergoing a process of adjusting to the state and are focused on acquiring a status equal to that of Jews.

In the last survey he conducted, three years ago, 79 percent of respondents said they agree with the idea that Arab Israelis need to live in Israel as a minority with full rights. However, the rate of those rejecting the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish-Zionist state - which dropped from 62 percent in 1985 to 35 percent in 1995 (the days of the Rabin government ) - climbed to 64 percent in 2007.

The Or Commission that investigated the October 2000 clashes wrote that "it is appropriate to find methods to bolster Arab citizens' sense of belonging to the state, without undermining their connection to their culture and community." In order to block the irredentist sentiment which Lieberman is so fearful of, the commission recommended exploring means of expressing the common denominators of the entire population, by incorporating public events and symbols which Arab citizens could identify with as well. At the same time, the government misses no opportunity to pass legislation and issue statements that make the chances of creating such common denominators slim.

The attitude of the right toward Arab Israelis resembles that of the guy who murders his parents and then asks for mercy because he is an orphan. Last week Lieberman told Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb that because of the Palestinians' refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, that before a peace agreement is achieved (which he does not believe will happen in this generation anyway ), they may take action to "create various autonomies inside Israel."

Lieberman and his boss actively contribute to the manifesting of this prophecy through excluding Arab citizens of Israel from their country. First they push the Arab minority into the bosom of the Arab leaders, who cultivate the Palestinian and Muslim identity, and then they complain about extremism among them.

It is doubtful whether this government will move closer to peace with the Arabs over the fence. For the time being, it is displaying its power in its confrontations with the Arabs within. "Our enemies have made us one without our consent," wrote Theodor Herzl in "The Jewish State" more than 110 years ago, adding that "Distress binds us together, and, thus united, we suddenly discover our strength." It is interesting to know how that sounds in Arabic.


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