It’s time for Israeli Jews to wake up from the “democratic syndrome”


In the recent years, the debate involving the growing delegitimation of Israel’s right to exist has broken the precedent taboos in the Israeli and jewish communities. What was once unthinkable among committed Zionists – discussing how to cope with the vile denial of jewish people’s right to its own State- has today become a daily matter of intellectual and political committment. Yet, in this volcanic flux of passions, one vital topic keeps on being unaddressed, despite its paramount importance for the future of the Zionist enterprise. I am referring to the homefront in the war against Israel constituted by Israeli arab intelligentsia. It’s a common tenet in running a war- and there is no doubt that this is an ideological one – that victory requires to cheers friends and to crush enemies. Yet, israeli governments seem to have carried out the exact opposite, permitting the repression of consent and the nurturing of dangerous opponents among a significant sector of israeli population. Being fair to Israeli society, the growing threat represented by Arab radicalization hasn’t been unnoticed by the public and the rightist parties, among all after the shocking 2000 riots, whose events should be considered an awful prelude to what is boiling for jews in the next future. Unfortunately, a real management of this threat is prevented by a distortion, widespread by the leftist and liberal elites, concerning the defence of democracy. A wishful thinking, that I label “the democratic syndrome”, which is eroding the same Israel’s legitimacy, and bankrupting coexistence between Israeli jews and arabs. So, it won’t be surely useless to address this threat to Israel’s future.

It’s an open secret that arab parties and their related NGOs are largely considered by Israeli public anything but fifth columns. The crystal support for Israel’s enemies expressed by arab parties Mks like Ahmad Tibi and Haneen Zoabi, as much as the huge contribution to Durban and BDS strategies carried out by eminent groups like Adalah, among the others, contributed to antagonise jewish public against arab minority, deepening the suspects of arab disloyalty nurtured by the endless israeli arab conflict. Yet, apart from the immediate outbursts of outrage, Israeli public seems not to have yet grasped the real threat created by this radical segment. This is particularly evident, when one considers the common tenets regarding arab Mks like  Zoabi or Tibi. It’s nearly impossible to find an Israeli jew sympathetic to them. Yet, at the same time many of them, among all from the leftist sphere, are prone to condemn the attempts of banning arab parties and NGOs because, in their opinion, it would wound the democratic essence of Israeli society. In the eyes of the proponents of this argument, the legality of these groups is a winning tool in the fight for Israel’s legitimation, because it would prove to its enemies its pluralistic character. This argument might have some points among Israel’s supporters. Nevertheless, not only it failed to win any consideration among its enemies, but actually worsened the general stading of the country in the international arena. Many Israeli jews are rightily appalled by the growing criticism moved by anti zionist forums and groups against the jewish presence behind the 1948 armistice lines. Though, they fail to understand that it’s precisely the democratic argument they often support regarding arab leadership that permitted this loss of legitimacy. That is, because if in their eyes the presence of an antizionist leadership is the proof of Israel’s inherently legitimacy, in those of their enemies it is the best sign of Israeli “racist” nature. It’s the umpteenth example of the valid theory whereby if a lie is re-repeated in a proper context, it almost ends up of seeming true. So that, if arab parties Mks are able to continously repeat, from inside the Knesset, that only arabs are indigenous, without bearing any sanction, it will be natural for an external observer to draw the conclusion that their assertion is the only true. After all, human nature is prone to match the fairness of one thesis with the level of sanctions enacted against its divulgation. And if these opinions can be legitimately expressed in the same political heart of the jewish State, it will be easy for anyone not committed to zionist principles to believe that, after all, jews don’t believe in what they want to peddle to others. The ruinous effects of this delusion, that is the essence of the democratic syndrome, have been bearing their fruits in the recent months: the international condemnation rained down the Prawer Plan, with its implication to hand down to Bedouins the entire Negev (an area that constitutes more than half of the jewish State) represents, at the international level, the most ominous outcome of the  jewish appeasement to arab extremism. Even more tragic are the consequences in the arab community. Let’s consider the fate that involved Father Gabriel Naddaf and Mohammad Zoabi. Both are advocating a real inclusion of their communities in the Israeli society, in the name of that same democratic freedom of expression continously invoked by arab parties Mks and their ilks. Yet, both them and their families are enduring phisical threats and  menaces by extremists. But the most astounding aspects in their stories is the complete lack of reaction from the arab community. Being silent in front of the illiberal assault against the expression of different opinions, whereas resolutely defending the assaulters, proves the moral bankruptcy wherein arab minority has been carried out by the same radical leadership shelved by the democratic syndrome. In the light of this situation, a revaluation of the approach toward Israeli arab intelligentsia seems therefore to be urgent. It’s crystal that no sane country can mantain a so hostile minority leadership, without compromising its same character. And, what is more worrying, the strenghtening of arab extremism risks to provoke a specular effect among jewish majority. After all, if funding arab advancement produced people like Haneen Zoabi or Ahmad Tibi, both of tham have enjoyed the best fruits of zionist enterprise, many jews will be surely tempted to believe that Israeli arabs don’t deserve to be part of their society. If funding arab advocay in a democratic context means strenghtening NGOs like Adalah, whose activities translated “arab minority’s defence” into a political warfare against Israel, many jews will surely be convinced that arab rights are anthitetic to their ones. And if, like Haneen Zoabi loves to repeat, a “jewish State leads to the end of democracy” , jewish majority might one day end up to really believe that democracy is an obstacle for the jewish people’s right to self determination. Clearly, not all is lost for saving coexistence among jewish majority and arab minority. But it’s clear that jewish public needs to wake up from the democratic syndrome and start to act coherently against the arab leadership. Making arab parties and arab NGOs accountable for their incitment is not opposed to democracy. On the contrary, it strenghtens one of the main tenets of a sane democratic system, that is its right to preserve itself against internal attempt of subversion. And ending the totalitarian suppression of different ideas into arab minority would surely free the pro integration forces, alone unable to cope with the extremists’ menaces. Far from destroying Israel’s pluralistic essence, as feared by the leftist elites, it will instead strenghten its position even in international arena, making clear to its opponents that the Jewish State is far from being deemed illegitimate by its people. And in putting an end to the internal war front, the jewish State could keep on mantain an homeland for its people, and a democratic fabric for all its citizens, in the best path of zionist enterprise.




About the Author
An Italian jurist and a firm Israel supporter.
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