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We don't have the privilege of being Islamophobic

Israelis tend to warn of the ‘Islamization’ of Europe in the wake of attacks like those in Brussels. But the fear of Muslims in a country where Jews and Muslims must live together is simply not an option.

Passengers evacuate a subway in Brussels following the terrorist attack, March 22, 2016. (Evan Lamos/EurActiv)

Passengers evacuate a subway in Brussels following the terrorist attack, March 22, 2016. (Evan Lamos/EurActiv)

After events like the terrorist attacks in Brussels or Paris, it has become common to hear Israelis say that “Europe is finished” or that it is being “conquered by Muslims.” In fact, people say these things even when there are no attacks. Regardless of inherent racism, I do not really understand the logic behind such statements. In France, seven percent of the population is Muslim. In Belgium it is six percent. In Britain — less than five percent.

In Israel, on the other hand, more than 20 percent of the population is Arab, the majority of whom are Muslim. Add to that 2 million Palestinians in the West Bank. Even if we don’t count Gaza, Jews and Arabs live side by side in every part of this country — in a way that doesn’t exist anywhere in Europe.

They say Israel may become a bi-national state sometime in the future, but the truth is we are already living in a bi-national reality — we are just in denial about it. If there are Israelis who believe we cannot live alongside Arabs or Muslims, then the only logical step for them is to run away from here as fast as they can. Any imaginable future scenario here will necessarily include more Arabs and Muslims in Israel than in those areas of Europe with large Arab populations.

Many years ago I saw Professor Aviezer Revitzki speak on a televised political discussion which devolved into generalizations about how Israel would spearhead a clash of civilizations. This was more or less the consensus in the study, from both left and right. “I don’t want to be the spearhead,” Revitzki announced (I am quoting from memory), “since that the part that is eroded and destroyed first.” Wise words.

If the world is moving toward all out war, Israel is probably the worst place to be. I’m happy to say that I don’t think that is the direction we’re headed. I do not have a simple solution to the current wave of nihilistic terrorism, and I don’t know anyone who does. Regardless, the numbers show that Jews and Arabs have to learn to live in this land side by side.

The terror attacks and the rightward shift in Europe might relieve some of the pressure from Israel, a fact which causes some Israelis to feel Schadenfreude. The truth of the matter is that Israelis and Palestinians are in the same boat. A clash of civilizations is the worst possible scenario. After all, this is not Europe, and we do not have the privilege of becoming Islamophobes.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    1. Czar

      Someone might get the impression that it’s only the Israelis who warn about the dangers of Islamization. Nothing could be further from the truth. Have you heard of PEGIDA?

      Reply to Comment
    2. Lewis from Afula

      Apparently, a new poll of French teenagers showed that 25.5% of teens in that country are Moslem.


      Allowing for a increase due to higher birth rates, this means in another 25 years, at least 30% of French citizens will be Moslem if not higher. This means France is finished. Furthermore, the continual islamization will drive the remaining French Jews to move to Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    3. susy

      We are not living in a binational reality. Israel is trying to annex only area C. Leaving area A and B outside. And this, tragically, is what will happen. The world will condemn this, as did and does with East Jerusalem: so what? Stop inventing the idea that we are in a binational reality, it is just a way to insult the Palestinians and what they live and will live.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Eva

      It is totally false to connect terrorism to Islam as the autor did. We have in Germany 3.5 Mio Muslims since decades (from 1970ies on) and never ever experienced religious motivated violence or terrorism by the Muslims living in Germany. What we see in Europe now is caused by the Iraq wars and the daily murderous wars in Syria, Iraq, Jemen and the curdish teritories as well as the violence experienced in the Palestine/Israel is caused by the occupation of an indiganous population by settler colonialists, secular as well as religous. It is not a matter of clash of civilizations but a matter of unjustice and violence to some degree produced by Western-Israeli colonialisation politics.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Muslims would make a great contribution to promoting peaceful relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in Europe and other countries outside the Middle East if they would first show that they can live in peace among themselves, first and foremost, by stopping the fratricidal slaughter they are currently engaged in or were in the recent past in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Algeria, and Pakistan/Bangladesh. It is a mistake to think that Western attitudes towards Muslims are not influenced by what they see going on every day in the war-torn Middle East.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        The Israelis would make a great contribution to promoting peaceful relations between everyone if they would show that they could even live in peace among themselves without “the conflict” to distract them from internecine warfare, and can demonstrate the slightest ability to share the land fairly and not ruthlessly oppress and relentlessly steal from the people already living there all the while complaining of being their victims. It is a mistake to think that western attitudes towards Israelis are not influenced by what they see going on in the occupation-torn Holy Land.

        Reply to Comment
        • i_like_ike52

          Most people in the world couldn’t care less about Israel, the Paletsinians and the a settlements. Muslim terror is affecting the whole world. Your turning my comment around doesn’t really communicate anything substantial. I realize the “progressives” like yourself view yourselves as the conscience of mankind and you assume that what you think is important is also important to everyone else, but (and I hate to be the one to break it to you) that isn’t true and what goes on in the West Bank doesn’t really interest many people.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Oh I think it’s substantial so we’ll have to disagree. I think you’re incoherent. We will disagree on that too. The underlying premise of yours here seems to be that +972 is a blog devoted to “what most people in the world are interested in.” Did you get lost on your way to the Kardashians and Caitlyn websites? The underlying ethic of yours here seems to be “if I can get away with it it’s good. That’s what matters.” In other words, the language of gangsters. Your declaration is revealing–self-exposing really. You’ll keep pushing the subterfuge of Bibi that what is happening in Brussels is what’s happening in Israel and that “Islamic terror” is the whole story and I’ll keep pointing out that that’s a devious ploy. And nothing will change until, as Sternhell says, there is “external intervention that will be massive enough to shake Israelis out of the placidity of their comfortable lives. Only when everyone among us can feel the price of the occupation in their flesh, will the end to blue-and-white colonialism and apartheid come.”

            Reply to Comment
      • andrew r

        Do you not find it a bit rude to hold any given person from those countries answerable for the conflicts taking place there?

        Reply to Comment
    6. Bruce Gould

      In all the territory Israel controls there are roughly 6.5 million Jews and 6.5 million Palestinians…but the whole thing is totally controlled by just one tribe of people.


      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce, open your eyes to reality.

        Thanks to Wikipedia,
        Nawaf Massalha, an Arab Muslim, has served in various junior ministerial roles, including Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, since 1999. In 2001Salah Tarif, a Druze Arab citizen of Israel, was appointed a member of Sharon’s cabinet without a portfolio. Tarif was later ejected after being convicted of corruption. In 2007 the first non-Druze Arab minister in Israel’s history, Raleb Majadele, was appointed a minister without portfolio, and a month later appointed minister for Science, Culture and Sport. Arab citizens of Israel have been elected to every Knesset, and currently hold 17 of its 120 seats. The first female Arab MP was Hussniya Jabara, a Muslim Arab from central Israel, who was elected in 1999.
        Abdel Rahman Zuabi, a Muslim from northern Israel, was the first Arab on the Israeli Supreme Court, serving a 9-month term in 1999. In 2004, Salim Joubran, a Christian Arab from Haifa descended from Lebanese Maronites, became the first Arab to hold a permanent appointment on the Court. Joubran’s expertise lies in the field of criminal law.[148] George Karra, a Christian Arab from Jaffa has served as a Tel Aviv District Court judge since 2000. He was the presiding judge in the trial of Moshe Katsav. In 2011, he was nominated as a candidate for the Israeli Supreme Court.
        Ali Yahya, an Arab Muslim, became the first Arab ambassador for Israel in 1995 when he was appointed ambassador to Finland. He served until 1999, and in 2006 was appointed ambassador to Greece. Other Arab ambassadors include Walid Mansour, a Druze, appointed ambassador to Vietnam in 1999, and Reda Mansour, also a Druze, a former ambassador to Ecuador. Mohammed Masarwa, an Arab Muslim, was Consul-General in Atlanta. In 2006, Ishmael Khaldi was appointed Israeli consul in San Francisco, becoming the first Bedouin consul of the State of Israel.
        Arab Generals in the IDF include Major General Hussain Fares, commander of Israel’s border police, and Major General Yosef Mishlav, head of the Home Front Command and current Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. Both are members of the Druze community. Other high-ranking officers in the IDF include Lieutenant Colonel Amos Yarkoni (born Abd el-Majid Hidr) from the Bedouin community, a legendary officer in the Israel Defense Forces and one of six Israeli Arabs to have received the IDF’s third highest decoration, the Medal of Distinguished Service.
        In 2011, Jamal Hakroush became the first Muslim Arab deputy Inspector-General in the Israeli Police. He has previously served as district commander of two districts.
        In 2007, Ra’adi Sfori became the first Arab citizen of Israel to be elected as a JNF director.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Paul Seligman

      “Jews and Arabs live side by side in every part of this country — in a way that doesn’t exist anywhere in Europe.” It’s certainly a different way to Europe, but if you are implying in a closer way, that’s just wrong. Most of our UK cities, including mine, have many Muslims living here, truly working and living side by side. For example. before I retired, I worked for an Israeli high tech company with offices here. As we controlled our personnel policy (below senior management level, which were parachuted in from Israel), we employed the best person for the job. This meant that we had quite a few Muslim colleagues in every type of role. Not, I think something that happens in Israel, where our quite large Israeli HQ only employed 1 (as far as I know) Arab in a non-tech role. We didn’t ask to see Army discharge papers or use any other means of discrimination.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Ben

      Ignore the hysteria: Europe can live with terror
      Violence is mounting, but it is not nearly serious enough to push the economy over the edge. Europe should sit tight: Islamic State is past its peak.

      David Rosenberg

      Reply to Comment
    9. “I do not have a simple solution to the current wave of nihilistic terrorism”
      In recent years as the Islamic threat grew those in the Left, who had originally criticised every remark levelled against Islamism and its Muslim proponents as Islamophobia, have had to moderate their tone. Many have come to realise that their Muslim mates have some responsibility for the mess we are in.

      We hear this trope about how 99.5% of all Muslims are peace-loving and don’t identify with terrorism; some will say the figure is 99% or 98% or even 95%. Who knows? At the end of the day even 99.5% of 1.5 billion Muslims is a large number.

      Maybe it’s about time that those who have no idea about how to deal with nihilistic terrorism keep their mouths shut and let others with some gumption get on with dealing with the problem.

      Reply to Comment