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What about us ‘beasts’ living inside the Villa in the Jungle?

Netanyahu’s magic solution for all of Israel’s problems is to fence the state in. But he will still be left with over a million Arabs, potential beasts of prey, and all the incitement in the world will not remove them.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tours Israel’s fence along the Jordanian border along with IDF Chief of General Staff Gadi Eizenkot (L), February 9, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tours Israel’s fence along the Jordanian border along with IDF Chief of General Staff Gadi Eizenkot (L), February 9, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month announced a plan to surround the State of Israel with fences — to keep out “beasts of prey.” I was left with an inescapable thought: I must ask the prime minister, what about me? If Israel is a villa in the jungle and is being fenced- and walled-in for fear of attack by the beasts of prey – namely Palestinians and other enemies such as the Arab countries and Iran – then what about me? What is my role, as a Palestinian-Arab citizen born right here, in the backyard shed of the fancy villa-estate?

According to the prime minister’s analogy, I must be categorized as a “potential beast of prey.” I might bite, chew and throw up the remains of the State of Israel right here within its walls. All those of my people, who have been expelled, are out there around the world and in refugee camps while I live inside the villa as an “operational failure” of the Zionist Jewish project. I mean the Zionist, Jewish and democratic project, of course. I almost forgot to mention that everything here is Jewish and democratic.

I take this pill three times a day as part of my rehab from the old “equal Palestinian citizen” disease, but it doesn’t really help. Apparently the only plan in store for me is to castrate and tame me, turn me into a domesticated pet, or cage me in close to the Holot detention center (Israel’s desert detention facility for African asylum seekers), and throw me some leftovers from the kosher feast of the lords of the land.

After 70 years of intense taming perhaps I could be allowed to rake the lawn at the prime minister’s official residence, and be promoted from beast of prey to the post of dedicated watchdog of the wondrous sole democracy in the Middle East.

It is no secret that the current right-wing government has outdone itself in disseminating hatred, hostility and plain incitement against its Arab citizens, day in day out, as part of its survival plan — as a distraction from the ongoing failure of handling all the other matters that would improve all its citizens’ lives (welfare, education, housing and health). Who thinks of such things? The main thing is that Jews are alive, thank God.

To that end someone must be kept in the position of national threat, since the Iranian threat evaporated into the hot air of the Middle East. And ISIS is not expected to cross the Jordan River any time soon

Shut up and make a living

Palestinian shops are shuttered in the Old City of Jerusalem after Israel restricted entry of Palestinians following a series of stabbing attacks, October 5, 2015. (Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills.org)

Palestinian shops shuttered in the Old City of Jerusalem after Israel restricted entry of Palestinians in response to a series of stabbing attacks, October 5, 2015. (Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills.org)

The Arab citizens of Israel are never really surprised any time the prime minister seizes an opportunity to fling some racist statement at us. Still, I cannot pretend it does not pain me, every time anew. It is outrageous, offensive, and does nothing to improve our trust in the state and its institutions.

Frankly, I thank the prime minister for his sincere and consistent behavior. It is far better than the nauseating ideological zigzag exhibited by the Labor Party. Netanyahu’s statements, beliefs and actions are congruent, and they outrage Jews of the left wing and nearly all the Arabs, who never cease talking about democracy and partnership and peace and ending the occupation.

But no. He insists on making us choose between being the enemies of the state and raping our loyalty everyday anew. It’s either beasts of prey or domesticated pets – nothing in between. Not even simply humans, or life partners for a change, equal citizens, God forbid. We are required to shut up in return for economic benefits, planned for some future of course, and to accept harsh infringements on our minority rights and our our right to be recognized as a nation, a people, a group with a different narrative that wants its place and recognition in the public sphere.

Who are we, Palestinians in Israel? Our mother-tongue is still Arabic, but we understand Hebrew very well. Our history does not sit well with the Zionist narrative. It even undermines it, and has therefore been targeted for annihilation. We are not Jews, of course. Most of us look “oriental” and lead a traditional way of life, or at least that is how Israeli researchers categorize us. We study, get an education, work, pay taxes, reproduce and live in rural enclaves and towns that are overflowing according to Israeli statistics. We are not responsible for the assimilation of the Jewish people, and in spite of some crude rumors, we had no part in the Holocaust.

Once, Israel’s policy towards us tended to be, “respect and suspect them”: as long as everything is quiet, it’s alright. Now, and in spite of the fact that “security sources” agree that Arab citizens do not “prey” on any Jews, the government has shifted to a policy of “suspect, slander and let our people hate them.” This is meant to push us into a corner from any possible angle and let the masses deal with us.

Netanyahu knows that the discussion he tries to instigate inside Arab society will never be resolved: should we sacrifice our Palestinian identity for the sake of integration? Shut up and make a living, without dignity? Behave as a proud and militant national minority and challenge democracy nonstop? Or raise our hands and remain a self-pitying, oppressed minority and weep behind closed doors?

The chicken dance

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the scene of a deadly shooting in Tel Aviv, January 2, 2016. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the scene of a deadly shooting in Tel Aviv, January 2, 2016. (Haim Zach/GPO)

At any rate, until we decide what we want, the masses will be busy hating us and fearing our presence, and thus the right wing enjoys some quiet and uncontested rule. The attack began on Election Day, against leftist organizations and the masses of Arab citizens “streaming towards the voting stations in droves,” continued with the outlawing of the Islamic Movement, and then the “state within a state” speech after a single drunk, drugged-up bully shot three people to death in Tel Aviv.

Now the Balad party is targeted, against the background of coalition Knesset members slandering Arab Knesset members, each in his own turn, and with the blessing of the prime minister. This whole chicken coop is revived as the King Rooster enters the Knesset plenary: minor, voiceless Knesset members become a chorus of squawking, nationalist and patriotic hens, at the expense of the Arab Knesset members and the society they represent in this hallowed parliament.

Naturally, in real time the hens report and lay their voting eggs – submissive and putrid, quietly pecking anything fed them in their trough. They vote as expected on any issue – be it natural gas, nominations, budgets, hasty racist legislation – and at the end of the day perform another hate show against the Arabs.

And I ask, when will Israelis finally grow tired of listening to this chorus? When will you free yourselves of the cages of fear and mind-slavery in which the right wing has enclosed you, in the dark, rotten basement of some villa in the jungle, while the lords of the land sit in their fancy, armored living room upstairs? When will you realize that this villa is a trap from which only you can break free? The choice between black and white, between war and hiding behind concrete walls – is NOT a choice you have to make.

The states which Israel would like to resemble, enlightened states, survived because of the dignity they attribute to any human, with equal laws for one and all, where justice is not measured by ethnic or national origin. Look around you. There are Palestinian citizens everywhere. They are humans just like you, who want to live like you and have no interest in shedding blood. They are concerned about Palestinians living under occupation, and they are allies for peace and hope, bearing a cultural heritage, a history and an especially rich language, which any normal state would regard as a treasure, and a powerful asset.

You deserve a leadership that values you more, and does not trample you and your rights in the name of survival. No other people than the Jews have learned more from their own experience about the demise of a nation that is only nurtured on hating the other and builds an empire upon racist theory. You know that no Jewish Temple was ever devastated by Palestinians, and no Jewish Temple will save you from hatred and evil. And if this shrine is ever built, its builders would probably be Arab construction workers, and even then only upon mutual agreement.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Czar

      Samah, let’s make one thing clear: your people have created the jungle, while the Jewish people created the villa. Your people started this conflict and they keep it going. You are also the beneficiary of the incredible tolerance and kindness of the Jewish people. Just compare your position in Israel, to the position of minorities in Arab Muslim countries. You should acknowledge this simple reality and stop playing the victim card. You should try to emulate the hard work and the brilliance of the people who created the villa to the best of your ability. Then, and only then, you will attain a sense of dignity.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Peter Hindrup

      Only one thing puzzles me in this reasonable, sensible article.
      As a Palestinian you know the veracity of Israeli Jew claims, yet you uncritically promote the Holocaust narrative. Why would you imagine it is any more truthful than is the Jewish claim to the land of Palestine?

      As for the fence: Once it is completed, the outsiders ought to weld shut the gates, put a lid on it — the Russian anti-aircraft batteries would do nicely, and there, cut off from decent society allow the Israeli Jews to wallow in their own ‘exceptionalism’

      Reply to Comment
    3. Whonoze

      Samah, PM Netanyahu was NOT talking about you and you know it!
      These are the beasts Benjamin Netanyahu wants to wall off:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gl-HzgpMBo

      The beast in that video first used his car to ram innocent civilians waiting for the bus. You can see many of them flying high in the air. Then he got out of his car and started butchering his victims with a meat-cleaver. That beast is from Hamas. The goal of Hamas, ISIS, Islamic Jihad, Al Qaida, PFLP, Fatah, etc. include murdering as many innocent civilians as possible whenever they have the opportunity to do so.

      Do you, Samah, feel that Israel is right in walling off the beast in that video clip and his fellow beasts from the Hamas, ISIS, Islamic Jihad, Al Qaida, PFLP, Fatah, etc? If yes, what is your complaint against PM Netanyahu? If no, what is your complaint?

      Do you, Samah, feel the beast in that video represents you and your community? If no, then Netanyahu is clearly NOT talking about you and it is difficult to see why YOU take his statement personal. If yes, what is your complaint against PM Netanyahu?

      Reply to Comment
      • Noevil9

        Whonows, You are focusing on the small beasts while you are so blinded -by choice may I ad -to the monster beast that have been murdering, blowing up house, and blowing down house on its inhabitants, a beast that steals land, up roots beautiful hundreds years old Olive trees- just for hate-burn the crops of the Palestinian farmers , shooting at children just because they protest his tanks , armored cars, machine guns, and he kills them when they dare to throw a stone. A beast that stolen most of the water from under the indegionous people’s land and homes, a beast that bulldozed thousands of Dunoms of Orage groves and citrus in Gaza, so they don’t combeat with his stolen oranges. the beast that builds fences around the people and does not let them move. Do I need to go on, maybe he does Drones killing of Palestiians while they walking down the street? Is that the beast that your conscience decided to blind itself about? The beast that have jets with one tone bombs? Your kind is such a pathetic kind, and its not just the enemy of humanity, its the enemy of its own self, as it rotes from within . Get a soul and tell the truth once in your life, you might still be saved by a trace of humanity! How disgusting!

        Reply to Comment
    4. Whonoze

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/news/video-1108548/Shocking-video-shows-extent-execution-Iraq-ISIS.html

      Those are the “carnivorous animals” PM Netanyahu meant.
      Those “carnivorous animals” round up innocent young men and execute them en mass in mass graves. They wipe out entire villages of ethnic minorities and see to wipe entire minority ethnic and religious groups from the face of the earth. It is called GENOCIDE. They behead the men and hand their heads on steel fences. These “carnivorous animal” then rape the women and force them into sexual slavery. Those savage beasts are Muslim Arabs. That is just the cold, hard FACT. Israel does not want them here and wants to wall them off. PM Netanyahu’ statement is very correct. If you believe that these savage beasts Netanyahu is talking about represents you and your community, then you have you have some serious soul searching to do.

      Reply to Comment
      • Whonoze

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gl-HzgpMBo

        Does Samah Salaime DENY that the terrorist in that video who first used his car to ram a group of Israeli civilians waiting for the bus and then got out of his car and started butchering and dismembering his victims with meat-cleaver is a “wild beast”? That “beast” is from Hamas. Hamas terrorists are what PM Netanyahu is talking about. PM Netanyahu was also talking about the terrorists from Islamic Jidhad, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, PFLP, etc. who sneak into Israel to murder innocent civilians.

        Do you, Samah, feel that Israel is right in walling off the beast in that video clip and his fellow beasts from the Hamas, ISIS, Islamic Jihad, Al Qaida, PFLP, Fatah, etc? If yes, what is your complaint against PM Netanyahu? If no, what is your complaint?

        Do you, Samah, feel that the beast in that video represents you and your community? If no, then Netanyahu is clearly NOT talking about you and it is difficult to see why you take his statement so personal, while knowing that you are wrong in doing so. If yes, what is your complaint against PM Netanyahu?

        Pls. discard my earlier comments which have not appeared.

        Reply to Comment
    5. carmen

      N’yahoo is always conflating the PLO with Hamas with islamic jihad with ISIS with godzilla and martians. Or maybe he’s just incredibly stupid. He and members of Knesset have not made any differentiation in their hate speech, especially after a stabbing incident, to use the term ‘beast’ and to paint all Palestinians with the same brush when its painfully obvious that a very small number of Palestinians have attacked with knives or scissors. They aren’t coordinated but random attacks. There’s no knife or scissor army out there. But the way the N’yahoo and Co. tell it, you’d think there was an army that are armed to the teeth with…scissors and knives, going up against automatic weapons, tanks, etc. There’s no army, but random teens and young adults who have to do something or just want to die and they know that the police and the IOF will gladly oblige them their death with, most of the time just for being Palestinian! The video of the young man who was shot to death near the Damascus gate by police was horrifying. He was already down and no longer posed a threat. The soldiers he stabbed were thankfully lightly injured. He was on the ground and immediately surrounded by police, two of which emptied their clips into him.

      From the Times of Israel 02/18/2016

      “Israeli security forces must not be “trigger-happy” in combating a wave of Palestinian violence in which many young assailants have died carrying out attacks, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Thursday, backing a statement made a day earlier by his army chief against the use of excessive firepower.

      In remarks to students at the Tel Hai college on Thursday, Ya’alon said Israel could not compromise its core values, even in the face of the unrest that erupted five months ago.

      “We must act calmly, judiciously and with discretion in order to prevent hurting innocent people and to avoid creating a situation in which our outrage causes us to lose our humanity, and ultimately, lose sight of justice,” he said.

      “We must not allow our senses to be dulled and must not become trigger-happy simply because our blood is boiling,” Ya’alon added. “We need to know how to win and still remain human.”

      A day earlier, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot told students at a Bat Yam high school that the army’s rules of engagement were adequate to deal with terrorist threats, and said security forces must shoot to kill perpetrators of attacks only if the circumstances are life-threatening.

      His comments were interpreted as a veiled criticism of police reaction to attacks.

      “When there’s a 13-year-old girl holding scissors or a knife and there is some distance between her and the soldiers, I don’t want to see a soldier open fire and empty his magazine at a girl like that, even if she is committing a very serious act,” Eisenkot said. “Rather, he should use the force necessary to fulfill the objective.”

      Right. A 13-year-old girl with scissors against soldiers or police with automatic weapons. Eisenkot stopped short of naming the objective – it appears the objective has always been shoot first and ‘confirm the kill’.

      Before anyone goes on a self-righteous rant about cutting and pasting; it’s for clarity and honesty.

      Other than the above, I can’t imagine why Samah would feel uncomfortable with the ‘beast’ terms. Maybe she’s just too sensitive?

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        Isolated incidents? What BS.

        These “isolated incidents” have been carried out by Arabs against Jews in one shape or another for nearly 100 years now. Thousands of times. Even before there was occupation.

        Moreaover, every survey confirms that there is wide spread support for this within Palestinian Arab society.

        Isolated incidents my foot. The only thing which is isolated is Carmen’s pea sized brain. It is isolated from reality.

        Reply to Comment
        • Carmen

          CARMEN: “They aren’t coordinated but random attacks.”
          GUSTAV: “Isolated incidents my foot.”

          Going fishing again? How lovely! I didn’t write “isolated incidents” anywhere in my post.

          Your false equivalence is tiresome.

          Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Yep, Benny, Carmen et al argue for arguings sake…

            CARMEN:”They aren’t coordinated but random attacks. There’s no knife or scissor army out there.”

            CARMEN:”I didn’t write “isolated incidents” anywhere in my post.”

            Whatever, deary. What you do seem to want us to do though is just to take it on the chin. Or worse, give in to all their stupid demands, unilaterally end the occupation without a peace deal.

            …yes, yes I kow, you didn’t say that. Whatever, deary. O’ One eyed one.

            Reply to Comment
    6. Average American

      Peter Hindrup: A very good point, no matter which side of the fence, I mean the issue, you’re on. Israel is increasingly isolating itself in the region. You could say that Israel will eventually fence itself in and then make a lid for itself. Aha, now we’re safe and a Jewish majority.

      Reply to Comment
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