To: Ahmed Tibi
From: Steve Rodan
Re: On officially becoming an Arab
Nearly 30 years ago, during the flush of the Oslo Accords, I sat in your office in Jerusalem and watched an Israeli Jew try to convince you to adopt his plan that would bring the Jewish majority under Arab influence. The Israeli, dressed in Western clothes and who spoke with a Sabra accent, saw you as the ticket for Jews to win the freedom of movement that would allow them to live anywhere in the Land of Israel, including the West Bank. I listened with a mixture of skepticism and disgust, but said nothing.
Sorry, it took so long Ahmed, but I finally got it. In the negotiations with the Bennett-Lapid coalition, Arab politicians have demanded the licensing of all illegal Arab construction, forgiveness of official fines, particularly during the COVID-19 outbreak, and 50 billion shekel [$15.4 billion] to develop the Arab sector. Well, I have to hand it to you guys: Unlike the Jews, you know how to represent your constituency without shame or legal restrictions.
That brings me to my point: I and many others want to join you. We, too, want to be Arabs. If it means living free from fear of punishing taxes and fees, draconian legal restrictions and demolition of our homes and synagogues, we’re all for it. You can change the name of the State of Israel; you can fly the F-35 if you can find one that works. You can shut down all the yeshivot that prepare kids for the military and fire their rabbis. Those who want to learn Torah will be free to do just that — without a uniform, military lectures or official ceremonies.
You might reduce official services. We’re used to that. Already, many of us have seen our pensions and health programs disappear, our National Insurance Institute checks unable to pay for more than yogurt and chewing gum. They all went to somebody’s pocket and it wasn’t ours. When you take over, you might even restore official bribery. No big deal. That’s the way the current system works anyway. The difference is as Jews we blathered on about democracy, rule of law and whatever. Now, it will be transparent.
It comes down to one thing, Ahmed: Many of us are no longer interested in politics, democracy, secular lifestyle or Western culture. We simply want to live as Jews. That’s why we came here in the first place.
Being an official Arab might mean a name change. No problem. Stephen is the name of a Christian saint who did diddly-squat for any Jew. My Hebrew name is Yaakov. You can call me Yaakoub. Now that I’ve mentioned it, Avraham could be Ibrahim. David will be Daoud. Shlomo can turn into Suleiman. Moshe could work as Mussa. Those with newfangled Israeli names might run into a problem — but hey, you can’t have everything.
We also might have to dress as Arabs. That’s simple: Our ancestors have done that for more than 1,000 years — whether in Iraq, Morocco or Syria. You might outlaw rock-‘n’-roll and tell me to play the oud instead of the guitar. I’m due for a change anyway.
Here are some potential benefits of joining your constituency: As an Arab, Hamas and Hezbollah might not target my home. The State of Israel has already depleted its Iron Dome interceptors and once more demonstrated its refusal to defend us. At least as an Arab, I won’t have any expectations.
If the Muslim states are any guide, I can be assured that I will not be harassed by missionaries. Christian and other missionaries will not be able to solicit anyone, a far cry from the policies of the State of Israel, which not only has failed to enforce the law against missionaries, rather in many cases invites them from abroad and provides them with choice property in major cities.
As an Arab, there will not be any Law of Return. It’ll be the Right of Return. Over the last 50 years, the State of Israel has allowed at least one million foreign Arabs, many of them from the PLO, to live on either side of the Green Line. Since 2019, the state has suspended the Law of Return and very few Jews were permitted entry. As an Arab, I will have the right of family reunification and bring in all of my oppressed brothers from America and Europe.
As an Arab, my house might be protected from demolition. Under the State of Israel, the destruction of Jewish homes and communities, particularly around Jerusalem and the West Bank, has been policy for decades. The demolition rate has far exceeded that under the British or Turks, not exactly our friends. Ahmed, if you succeed in annulling all demolition orders and obtaining official approval for all illegal structures, I’m in.
Now, I know that you and your colleagues are capable of breaking your word as your ancestors have often done. The riots in Lod, Jaffa, Acre and other cities might resume. But it can’t be worse than what we have today: Now, we have a Jewish police force that refuses to protect us and a media that accuse us of provoking the pogroms with our mere presence. In the end, we protected ourselves, and we can and will do it again.
Regarding broken vows, that’s all we’ve had under the State of Israel: A leadership that promises today and betrays tomorrow. We had one prime minister who swore he would retain the Jewish communities of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, only to destroy thousands of homes after the elections. For the last 12 years, we had a Jewish premier who would go back on his word as soon as he finished his sentence. He swore to keep Jerusalem as our capital only to commit to the Americans to make the city, I’m sorry, Al Quds, the capital of a Palestinian state. During his tenure, he closed thousands of synagogues, schools and even ritual baths while enforcing few if any Covid restrictions on Christians and Muslims.
We’ll take our chances.
There is one caveat to our proposal. When you take over, you cannot appoint any Jewish representatives to rule us. We’re done with quislings — whether from Rome, Byzantine, Ottoman, Berlin, London or Washington. If you want something, you come directly to the Jews. If we need something, you are the address.
We know this offer will not be easy for us. You won’t like us and many of you might not even tolerate us. But we are convinced that this arrangement will be temporary. We believe in the Messiah and know that He is coming. If we can return to our faith, this might happen very soon. And then we’ll talk again.