Israel’s Heart of Darkness

I am one of those. The American Jew who would give his life for Israel but never had to; the American Jew whose mortal combat has turned a Zionist corner unforeseen by Herzl, Ben- Gurion or Kook.

I will never surrender to the unrelenting, entrenched mental battalions of countless Israeli Jews rejecting any possibility Arabs can be patriotic, equal Israelis.

Yes, I speak as an American. So, let me do some comparing. Our Founding Fathers not only owned slaves, but preserved the justification for slavery by stating in the Constitution that Black People were only fractionally human beings.

After the Civil War, so-called “Reconstruction,” may have lifted the lifestyle of the former slaves but not a noticeable amount toward their being “Americans.” In fact, even through WW II Jim Crow, the social and military segregation of Black and White society, was the rule.

Harry Truman tried to reward the heroism of the Black heroes who fought in segregated squadrons, recognizing the armed forces (in 1944) were to be integrated, but even in the 1950s, under Dwight Eisenhower, it still hadn’t happened. Not until, after he was elected, and took a decisive step to end school segregation, using the army to do it. Even then, Blacks in the South couldn’t vote equally, not until Lyndon Johnson, in the ‘60s.

Why all this American background, when this blog is about Israeli Arabs?

Because, look what it took for the former slaves to say, despite that cauldron of bitter experience, “We are Americans too.”

White America, today, in large numbers (without rehashing Trumpian racism) is still determined to disenfranchise anybody who is not White.

BUT, the Blacks refuse. The Hispanics refuse. America, they say, is our country…

WHICH, brings the discussion, full circle, to Israel. Let me compare the Arab Israelis to a population with a painful past, not altogether dissimilar to the Black recollection of ancestral slavery in America. I refer to the NAKBA. Here, it is not my intention to argue whether Israel, during her struggle for survival, committed atrocities against an indigenous population of civilians, rather that the experience of that 1947-1949 population is seared in the communal Israeli-Arab memory as just such a horrific historic occurrence.

Subsequently, as we know, militaristic divisions among Arab inhabitants residing in the region of the West Bank, Lebanon, and Gaza have become threatening, with extremist charters vowing annihilation of Israel, and armaments from Iran or other sources bolstering the forces of Hezbollah and Hamas.

These genuine Arab enemies define the Jews living in the State of Israel as their avowed enemy.

But, do the Arab Israelis consider their fellow Jewish citizens as their enemy, or, are they, like the American Blacks, after all their travail, truly desirous of being fully equal Israelis?
And, no less important, what about the Israeli Jews? Will they ever be ready to open their hearts to Arab Israelis and say your homeland is our homeland?

Here are a few things you may want to reflect on before you answer. (I’ll summarize my point of view at the end.)

1. If Hezbollah attacked in the north and their gunmen threatened homes on a Kibbutz near the Lebanese border, what reaction do you think a family would have to an Israeli Arab from a neighboring village racing to their aid?

2. In light of your answer to the above, do you think Israeli Jews are ready to perceive Israeli Arabs as Israeli–or only as enemies?

3. Is the “Nation State” law a way to empower Israeli Arabs to say “I am an Israeli”?

4. Dwight Eisenhower was for segregating the military, despite the law requiring its integration, and only changed with the Korean War in the 1950s. Is it time to draft Israeli Arabs into the military as a signal all Israelis are Israeli?

To those who are invested in the ossified and unchangeable belief the only good Arab is either a dead Arab, or one living far away from the Jews, I wish to reprise you with this sermonistic refresher course in Torah, and let some light into that Israeli “heart of darkness.”

The Descendants of Ishmael, our Palestinian brothers and sisters, are twice Covenanted by God in the Torah to be a great nation living in the same region as we. Ishmael and Isaac were both circumcised by Abraham and they buried him together. As for being our avowed enemies, many Jews pay no heed to the fact that the conquest of the West Bank in 1967 saw combat only against Jordanian forces, and the local Palestinians sat on their hands, taking no part. Yasser Arafat’s PLO and his despicable terrorism arose as a result of our refusal to leave six years later. What we have done to that region, stealing land that was never ours in the name of God, led to bloodshed we brought upon ourselves. The story will only get worse if Arab Israelis are deemed eternal enemies in order to preserve the pseudo-Zionist architecture as a pretext for the Jewish homeland’s security. Only if Israeli Arabs say “I am an Israeli and Israel is my country” shall the Jewish homeland be truly secure.

About the Author
Abram Epstein, a New Yorker, has served as Director of Education for several synagogues and actively participated in the Manhattan Educators’ Council. His graduate studies at New York University’s Hagop Kevorkian Center focused on ancient Near Eastern religion and Biblical Judaism. He is a recipient of the university’s prestigious Founders’ Award for Academic Accomplishment and has a screen credit as Historical Consultant for "The Seventh Sign" starring Demi Moore. His other books include, "The Historical Haggadah," "The Matthias Scroll," "A Documented Biography of Jesus Before Christianity," and most recently, "The Matthias Scroll–Select Second Edition." Abram invites communication on his FB page: "Abram Epstein" or "Abram's Historical Writing."