The current seismic developments in Arab countries have removed the Middle East “screen saver,” exposing the real Mideast: top heavy on violence, fragmentation, volatility, hate-education and treachery, and low on predictability, certainty, credibility and democracy.The collapse of Arab regimes reflects the collapse of superficial assumptions, which have underlined Western policy-making and public opinion molding. The upheaval in Arab societies highlights the dramatic gap between Israel’s democracy and its Arab neighbors.
In fact, recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Libya, Syria (and you ain’t seen nothing yet…) have enhanced the craving in the Arab Street for the liberties and benefits of Israel’s democracy.
For example, Israeli ID cards have been sought by senior PLO and Hamas officials and their relatives, such as the three sisters of Ismail Haniyeh, the top leader of Hamas. They married Israeli Arabs and migrated from Gaza to Tel Sheva in Israel’s Negev. Two are already widows, but prefer to remain in the Jewish State, and the son of the third sister serves in the Israeli Defense Forces.
Akrameh Sabri, the top Muslim religious leader in eastern Jerusalem, who delivers anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist sermons, retains his Israeli ID card as do Hanan Ashrawi of the PLO, Muhammad Abu-Tir of Hamas, Jibril Rajoub’s wife, etc.
Some 150,000 non-Israeli Arabs, mostly from Judea and Samaria, married Israeli Arabs and received Israeli ID cards between 1993 and 2003. In addition, scores of thousands of illegal Arab aliens prefer Israeli – over Palestinian – residence.
A significant wave of net-emigration – 30,000 Arabs from Judea, Samaria and Gaza annually – since 1950 was substantially reduced in 1968, as a result of access gained to Israel’s infrastructures of employment, medicine and education, and of Israeli construction of such infrastructures in these regions. The level of annual Arab emigration subsided during the peak years of Aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel), since Arabs were heavily employed in constructing the absorption infrastructure.
Israeli Arabs vehemently oppose any settlement – such as an exchange of land between Israel and the Palestinian Authority – which would transform them into Palestinian subjects, denying them Israeli citizenship.
Jerusalem Arabs’ clear choice
A sizeable number of Jerusalem Arabs prefer to remain under Israel’s sovereignty, according to a January 12, 2011 public opinion poll conducted by The Palestinian Center for Public Opinion headed by Nabil Kukali of Beit Sakhur. The poll was commissioned and supervised by the Princeton-based Pechter Middle East Polls and the NY-based Council on Foreign Relations.
Since 1967, Jerusalem Arabs – within Israel’s municipal lines – have been permanent Israeli residents and Israeli ID card holders. Therefore, they freely work and travel throughout Israel and benefit from Israel’s healthcare programs, retirement plans, social security, unemployment, disability and child allowances, and they can vote in Jerusalem’s municipal election.
According to the January 2011 poll, which was conducted by Palestinians in Arab neighborhoods far from any Jewish presence, 40% of Jerusalem Arabs would relocate to an area inside Israel if their current neighborhood were to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority. Only 27% would relocate to the Palestinian Authority if their neighborhood were to become an internationally recognized part of Israel.
Moreover, 39% assume that most people in their neighborhood prefer Israeli citizenship, and only 31% assume that most people in their neighborhood prefer Palestinian citizenship. While some 35% prefer to be Israeli citizens, only 30% prefer Palestinian citizenship.
One can assume that is the pollsters would have added the cultural “fear factor” – of Palestinian terrorist retribution – the number of Jerusalem Arabs preferring Israeli citizenship would have been higher.
What do the Arabs of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza know about Mahmoud Abbas Palestinian Authority that Western policy-makers and public opinion molders do not know?! When will Western policy-makers and public opinion molders remove the Abbas “screen saver” and confront the real Abbas?!