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The day they strip me of my citizenship

When the deputy interior minister demands Palestinian citizens renounce our citizenship, he only exposes the true nature of the Israeli state. After all, without us there is no ‘only democracy in the Middle East.’

Thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel take part in the March of Return, in the lands of the destroyed village of Hadatha, near Tiberias, April 23, 2015. (photo: Omar Sameer/Activestills.org)

Thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel take part in the March of Return, in the lands of the destroyed village of Hadatha, near Tiberias, April 23, 2015. (photo: Omar Sameer/Activestills.org)

We, the rowdy Arabs who live in the democratic state of the Jewish people, formally apologize for disrupting a Knesset plenum on the Citizenship Law, which denies status in Israel to Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens. So what if the discussion was about our future, our place in society, our fate—we have no right to state our opinions.

Since you were already there, dear coalition members, and since the cowards of the Zionist Union scurried back into their holes when it came time to vote, you should have just finished us off. You know, since you have such an overwhelming majority in the Knesset.

But why stop there? You should have also passed a law that forces the Arab MKs to kiss the hands of their Jewish masters at the entrance to the Knesset, and bow down before the ministerial table before taking their seats. Why make do with a mere “thanks?”

Believe me when I say that I did my best not to look through the history books so as to not “compare” to the past. But with every new low by our elected officials, the thought of the racist laws and remarks directed at the entirety of Israel’s Arab population (and those who represent it) with every week passing week—I feel like we all must take a step back, breathe deeply, and dare to look at the difficult past. Perhaps then we will wake up and change direction before it is too late.

On the fast lane to the bottom

I looked through the history books to find out exactly when the Third Reich began to entrench its rule through the democracy that presented it its power on a silver platter. I found, unsurprisingly, that it began by violating civil rights: one by one, discriminatory laws were passed against the Jewish minority in Germany. Everything was done in order to promise a pure demography. An unapologetic policy, which promised a beautiful future at the expense of the minorities. A policy that won the hearts and minds of the majority of the nation—the same German nation that felt victimized and humiliated in the wake of the First World War, and pushed the blame onto the Jews.

One example is the law that forbade marriage between Jews and non-Jewish German citizens. In order to enforce the law, the regime invaded its subjects’ privacy: many couples were forced to break up, ruining countless families. Does this description remind you of the Citizenship Law in Israel? The same one that was being spoken about during the Knesset plenum on Wednesday? Because honestly we cannot find a better analogy.

You will be surprised to hear that the attacks on Germany’s Jews began with an all-out attack on culture: closing newspapers and theaters (in case Culture Minister Miri Regev is reading). Then came separation on trains (in case Minister of Segregated Buses Moshe Ya’alon is reading) and the kidnapping of Jewish men and women who married non-Jews (what exactly is Lehava doing here?).

MK Miri Regev points on a map of the city of Rahat, during a Negev tour by the Israeli Knesset Internal Affairs Committee regarding the Prawer plan, in the Bedouin city of Rahat, November 24, 2013. (Photo: Activestills.org)

MK Miri Regev points on a map of the city of Rahat, during a Negev tour by the Israeli Knesset Internal Affairs Committee regarding the Prawer plan, in the Bedouin city of Rahat, November 24, 2013. (Photo: Activestills.org)

The good news is that we are not there—we have not yet reached the bottom. The bad news is that we are going full-speed in the fast lane.

I am afraid to think about the endgame, and I am aware that the gulf between what is happening here and the Holocaust is enormous. But the political processes and the government’s use of its power to solidify hatred and incite against Arab citizens—not to mention the justifications that Israeli Jews hear from their leaders—permeate the public consciousness. We can no longer say that these are random remarks from people on the street, and we cannot blame Netanyahu for his racist utterances, after which he will apologize and everything goes back to normal. The burning of churches and mosques has become commonplace, and attacks on Palestinians are a thing of the ordinary. These incidents have become part of our daily routine here, and not only during the war on Gaza.

The fear-mongering over Iran, ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, Yemen, etc.; the hatred and utter dehumanization of Palestinians; the sanctifying of the Jewish people and the celebration of its so-called redemption; and the growing control over natural resources and the media—all of these put together form a perfect recipe for a tyrannical regime.

The masks are off

But I believe there is good in every bad, even when it comes to the violence against Palestinian citizens of Israel: while the Palestinians in Gaza have been besieged for nearly a decade, and while the West Bank has been cut in half, with settlements spreading on every hilltop at our expense, we—Palestinian citizens—continued to do the Jewish people a favor. Without us, there is no “only democracy in the Middle East.” We stayed here after the war and accepted the rules of the game.

But here is the good: now that the masks are off, everyone is playing for real. The leaders in charge no longer need to hide behind remarks that neither they nor the world believe in. We are playing “al Makshouf” as we say in Arabic—the gloves are off and we go after whoever stays.

You must admit that there is a certain ease that comes with this. When a hateful person such as Deputy Interior Minister Yaron Mazuz speaks to the Knesset and says what he wants without apologizing or stuttering, we are no longer surprised by anything.

Israel may win, may occupy with all its power, army, weapons, legislature and government—drunk on its own power and unchecked control. And perhaps it is true that while all the Arab states around us are unraveling, the rest of the world acts hypocritically toward Israel. But if things continue this way, the State of Israel will remain naked for the world to see.

I have no problem returning my blue ID card, which was always intended to tie me, the little woman, to the Big State. The ID that was meant to be a symbol of the contract between myself and the rest of society. My citizenship, as well as everyone else’s—Arabs and Jews, minority and majority, irrespective of religion, race, or sex— is a right, not charity. Providing me with citizenship is an obligation, not a favor. Should my citizenship be taken away, the blame will fall squarely on the state.

Should my citizenship be taken away, I will tattoo my identification number on my left arm, along with 1.2 million other Palestinians. This does not mean that I will disappear from here. I am a daughter of the land, here I will be buried for generations. And despite everything, I still believe in humanity. Despite the establishment and the regime, I still believe that logic will defeat the madness, that humanity will decry racism.

Meanwhile, Israel will go to war by itself—it won’t have any partners in the next one. It certainly doesn’t have me.

Samah Salaime is a social worker, a director of AWC (Arab Women in the Center) in Lod/Lyd and a graduate of the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call, where he/she is a blogger. Read it here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Pedro X

      Not every Arab Israeli feels hatred about Israel like Samah. Khaled Abu Toameh stated in 2009:

      “Israel is a wonderful place to live and we are happy to be there. Israel is a free and open country. If I were given the choice, I would rather live in Israel as a second class citizen than as a first class citizen in Cairo, Gaza, Amman or Ramallah.”

      The relationship between Arab Druze living in Israel and Israel is said to be a covenant of blood. Druze who live in Israel fiercely identify with the Israeli state.

      Samah has many freedoms. She can marry an Israeli of any faith, Jewish, Muslim, Bahai, Druze, Christian or secular. However she does not have the right to marry a member of an enemy territory and bring that person to Israel. The United States of America did not let citizens marry Cubans and bring them back to the United States. Israel at one point allowed family reunification between spouses but because of the terrorism which entered the state of Israel with these spouses, Israel no longer allowed enemies to marry citizens and live in Israel.

      Samah claiming discrimination shows her own crude racism in making false comparisons between Israel and world war II Germany. An Arab in Israel can marry any other Israeli citizen, regardless of color, faith or ethnic background. This was not true in Germany. Germany shut down and attacked Jewish businesses, papers and institutions. Israel has decided not to fund theaters who take money from the state to glorify murderers of Israel and promote a culture of hate against Jewish Israelis. The theaters in Israel are free to carry on using their own money. Arab newspapers publish under the same rules as Jewish newspapers. Israel is the only state in the middle east to allow freedom of religion.

      Israel built its lite train system to serve both Jews and Arabs. Only Arabs attack it. Jews and Arabs in Israel share public transportation.

      Israel’s hospitals, universities, and social services serve both Jew and Arab citizens. Arab and Jew may practice any occupation of his or her choice.

      A poll in 2014 found that two thirds of Israeli Arabs were proud to be Israeli citizens. However, there are some who see them themselves as part of the Palestinian people and not as citizens of the state of Israel. That is their right. However, they should not be surprised that other Israelis will view them as being un-loyal to the state of Israel and its people.

      In the aftermath of the American war of independence, 70,000 United Empire Loyalists left the thirteen colonies which formed the United States of American. 50,000 of those people settled in the Canadian colonies of British North America. These people were unwilling to swear loyalty to the new American Republic and remained loyal to the Crown of England.

      If Samah cannot feel the pride which Khaled Abu Toameh does about Israel, she should consider leaving Israel and move to Gaza, Ramallah, Egypt or Libya where she would feel more at home and not have to see or deal with Jews. Or she could move to the United States and lose her identity in the melting pot of American society.

      Reply to Comment
      • Philos

        The comparison with Cuba is very telling… Yes, what a dangerous and monstrous threat that island, its government and people presented to the USA.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Ginger Eis

      This article is intellectually barren, unsupported by facts, hateful and anti-Semitic!

      Here are the FACTS:

      FACT 1: Israeli Arabs can intermarry with Israeli Arabs inside Israel;

      FACT 2: Israeli Arabs can intermarry with Israeli Jews inside Israel;

      FACT 3: Israeli Arabs can intermarry with whomever they want inside Israel:

      FACT 4: Israeli Arabs can marry whomever they want from any country and bring them to Israel in the context of family reunion;

      FACT 5: In 1948 when Israel started to exist 156,000 Arabs lived in Israel in 1948. Today that number is 1,730,000 (20.7%) (!). Israeli Arabs are better-off in Israel than other Arabs in Muslim-Arab countries.

      FACT 6: Palestinians abused Israel’s generosity and the right to family re-unification to import terrorists masquerading as brides/bridegrooms who commit terrorist (mass) murders of innocent Israelis. 40% of terrorist (mass) murders were carried out by import brides/bridegrooms. In 2003, Israel passed a TEMPORARY Order denying the granting of citizenship or residency to Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip or Judea and Samaria.

      FACT 7: The limitation has TWO main goals: (a) Protecting the lives of innocent Israelis and non-Israelis who are physically present in the Jewish State, and (b) Prevention of terrorism. From the legal point of view, the limitation is justified and air-tight.

      Sidebar:

      Ms. Salaime Samah, you could have written- and can write your article and perfectly make your point therein without defecating on the memory of the Shoah as you have done! Not only is there no justification to involve the Shoah here, but the comparisons you make are flat out imbecilic and not worth commenting on! You must be a very bitter, envious and hateful fellow, no?

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ginger Eis

      This article is intellectually barren, unsupported by facts, hateful and anti-Semitic!

      Here are the FACTS:

      FACT 1: Israeli Arabs can intermarry with Israeli Arabs inside Israel;

      FACT 2: Israeli Arabs can intermarry with Israeli Jews inside Israel;

      FACT 3: Israeli Arabs can intermarry with whomever they want inside Israel:

      FACT 4: Israeli Arabs can marry whomever they want from any country and bring them to Israel in the context of family reunion;

      FACT 5: In 1948 when Israel started to exist 156,000 Arabs lived in Israel in 1948. Today that number is 1,730,000 (20.7%) (!). Israeli Arabs are better-off in Israel than other Arabs in Muslim-Arab countries.

      FACT 6: Palestinians abused Israel’s generosity and the right to family re-unification to import terrorists masquerading as brides/bridegrooms who commit terrorist (mass) murders of innocent Israelis. 40% of terrorist (mass) murders were carried out by import brides/bridegrooms. In 2003, Israel passed a TEMPORARY Order denying the granting of citizenship or residency to Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip or Judea and Samaria.

      FACT 7: The limitation has TWO main goals: (a) Protecting the lives of innocent Israelis and non-Israelis who are physically present in the Jewish State, and (b) Prevention of terrorism. From the legal point of view, the limitation as described above is justified and air-tight.

      Sidebar:

      Ms. Salaime Samah, you could have written- and can write your article and perfectly make your point therein without defecating on the memory of the Shoah as you have done! Not only is there no justification to involve the Shoah here, but the comparisons you make are flat out imbecilic and not worth commenting on! You must be a very bitter, envious and hateful fellow, no? Well, lighten up, Ms. Samah Salaime. This might help:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyFyAqLtHq8

      Reply to Comment
      • marnie

        You can repost that 1000 times and it won’t make it true. You are the worst of the bunch with blind, brainwashed allegience to a country you don’t even live in and therefore don’t see the casual, everyday racism that is entrenched in the “Jewish” state. Demanding minorities to recognize the “Jewish” state is criminal and shows that the zionists have not learned from the past and instead are following in the very footsteps of the monsters who murdered their families.

        To you, every leftist Jew, every antizionist Jew and every antizionist non-Jew is antisemitic. Troll.

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X

          Marnie, you have not responded to even one point made by Ginger Eis.

          Are you saying that Israeli Arabs cannot intermarry with Israeli Arabs inside Israel?

          Are you saying that Israeli Arabs cannot intermarry with Israeli Jews inside Israel?

          Are you saying that Israeli Arabs cannot intermarry with whomever they want inside Israel?

          Are you saying that Palestinian terrorists did not use family reunification as a way of carrying out terrorist attacks in Israel?

          If so, what is your proof?

          By the way, what criminal statute says that requesting recognition of the Jewish state is a criminal offence as you state? The UN recognized in 1947 that Israel would be a Jewish state. Why is it so hard for Arabs to recognize the Jewish ethnicity of Israel in the 21st century? In my country Quebec demanded recognition of its people being a nation within a nation due to its French ethnicity. Is there a criminal statute covering the recognition of ethnic identities? If so, why are 57 Islamic states not charged with this heinous offence? Does this offence only apply to Jews?

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Pedro X, you and Eis are being rather coy here don’t you think? You’ve artfully skirted some important categories and in some cases not so artfully. Would you please refer to this article and this chart for the actual situation:

            http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/shavuot/.premium-1.596576

            At the very least:

            – A Jewish man and a Muslim woman cannot marry inside Israel.

            – A Jew and a Christian cannot marry inside Israel.

            – A Christian man and a Muslim woman cannot marry inside Israel.

            – I regards to the reverse combinations (Jewish woman-Muslim man; Muslim man-Christian woman) it’s complicated, far from straightforward, and never easy.

            There is no civil marriage. Jews can only be married in a religious ceremony, by an Orthodox rabbi under the authority of the Chief Rabbinate. There is in general no interfaith marriage between Jews and non-Jews. This religious monopoly on marriage has no equal among other Western democracies.

            So Eis’s first three “facts” need to be modified as follows to tell the truth:

            FACT 1: Israeli Arabs can intermarry with Israeli Arabs inside Israel–unless the man is a Christian and the woman is Muslim and then they cannot. And if the woman is Christian and the man is Muslim, it’s complicated.

            FACT 2: Israeli Arabs can intermarry with Israeli Jews inside Israel–unless the Arab is Christian and then they cannot–and if the man is Jewish and the woman is Muslim then they also cannot. And if the woman is Jewish and the man is Muslim, it’s complicated.

            FACT 3: Israeli Arabs can intermarry with whomever they want inside Israel–not true–see Facts 1 and 2.

            (About FACT 4, I’m rather skeptical that in reality this is allowed in significant numbers or without it being very “complicated” but let’s just keep it to facts 1-3 here.)

            Reply to Comment
          • Daniel

            Ben,

            Basically, Pedro and Ginger are correct. You are wrong! The difference between “race” and “religion” is like the difference between water and oil. According to Israel’s marriage law, marriages in Israel are performed by sanctioned religious authorities–be they Muslim, Jewish, Druze, or Christian. It’s all about religion, not race. The Christian and the Muslim Clergy in Canada, Germany, the UK, Ivory Coast, Brazil, etc. do not perform marriage between Christians and non-Christians, between Muslims and non-Muslims. Jewish Rabbis also do as their fellow Christian and Muslim Clergy. None of it has anything to do with race or ethnicity.

            You are wrong also, because you confuse/mix-up ‘race/ethnicity’ with ‘religion’ and come to very bad and erroneous conclusions. Your premise is ‘religion’, but the conclusion is ‘race’ which has nothing to do with your premise. That’s is fatal non-sequitur that mirrors a very bad thought-process. I am sure you remember numerous articles on +972 regarding the bride Morel Malka, 23, a Jewish convert to Islam, and her groom, Mahmoud Mansour, 26, of Jaffa, who were wed in Israel amid protest from Lahava. Are you not one of those who commented on the issue? How then can you come here and claim that Muslim-Arabs are not allowed intermarry with Jews?

            Reply to Comment
    4. Peter Hindrup

      This would have ben a far better article if Samah had either left out his erroneous references to the Germans. Being a Palestinian, he(?) ought to have known of how propaganda twists the history of the losers, and lays blame where it does not belong.

      But then on second thoughts this piece reads like a propaganda article, of one who has sold his(?) soul to the Israelis, or is in fact not a Palestinian/Arab at all.

      Reply to Comment