The Right Coast

February 18, 2004
Israeli Arabs Like Freedom in the Zionist Entity
By Mike Rappaport

Israeli Arabs are upset that Prime Minister is considering ceding their community to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. While the rhetoric of Israel’s critics throughout the world would appear to suggest these Arabs would prefer being ruled by their fellow Arabs, they don’t, according to this story:
    Although Israeli Arabs of Umm-al-Fahm share much with their fellow Arabs in the neighboring West Bank, the former say they are more concerned about preserving the rights they enjoy as Israelis — including access to jobs, free speech, a democratic vote and a measure of political freedom. "We have a saying here," said Shoaa Saad, 22, "that the 'evil' of Israel is better than the 'heaven' of the West Bank. "Here you can say whatever you like and do whatever you want — so long as you don't touch the security of Israel. Over there, if you talk about [Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser] Arafat, they can arrest you and beat you up."

    The idea of ceding some of these population centers appeals to many Jewish Israelis, who fear that the Arabs, with their higher birthrate, eventually will outnumber the Jews in Israel. In 50 years, the Israeli-Arab population has increased from 160,000 to 1.2 million; there are 5 million Jews in Israel.

    "Mr. Sharon seems to want us to join an unknown state that doesn't have a parliament, or a democracy, or even decent universities," said Mr. Allo, who studied law and social anthropology at predominantly Jewish colleges in Haifa and Netanya.