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Stop calling us 'Israeli Arabs'

The phrase ‘Israeli Arabs’ is meant to divide us from the rest of the Palestinian people. Thankfully, more and more young Palestinian citizens are no longer scared to openly confront their own Pharaoh and reclaim their story.

Activists demonstrate against the Prawer Plan at Herod’s Gate in East Jerusalem, November 30, 2013. The Prawer Plan, if implemented, will displace tens of thousands of Bedouin citizens of Israel. (Photo: Activestills.org)

Palestinian citizens of Israel demonstrate against the Prawer Plan at Herod’s Gate in East Jerusalem, November 30, 2013. The Prawer Plan, if implemented, will displace tens of thousands of Bedouin citizens of Israel. (Photo: Activestills.org)

“So explain it to me again,” Amanda repeated. “How can it be that while Israel celebrates its independence, or whatever they call it, there is no public discussion on the occupation? Or the fact that Israel has been controlling another nation for nearly 50 years? The hypocrisy is staggering!” Now try explaining Israeli society’s denial and blindness to a friend from New Zealand whom you haven’t seen for years. And all I wanted to talk about was my upcoming trek.

I decided to explain to Amanda about the Israeli duality, relevant to so many aspects of day-to-day life in the Jews’ democratic state, in the hopes that it will help her understand that blindness, hypocrisy and Israelis actually do go hand-in-hand. Perhaps then she would understand why we ignore the occupation. I brought up the example that has come up over and over again these past few weeks, especially since the remarks made by the prime minister of the most democratic country on the planet on election day: the synthetic term “Israeli Arabs” — a brilliant Zionist invention that destroyed our narrative, and trapped many Palestinians in Israel in a horrible identity crisis. “Netanyahu against Israeli Arabs,” “Netanyahu apologizes to Israeli Arabs.” We’ve been hearing these statement too often recently.

Since the elections, I’ve had the chance to be interviewed in several international media outlets. Most of the interviews referred to us as “Israeli Arabs,” and all the hosts wanted to know what we thought about the prime minister’s remarks or what we thought about his apology. However, instead of responding to their questions, I found myself correcting the hosts over and over again. “What don’t you understand? Even the prime minister is publicly speaking out against Palestinians in his own state, and you still calls us Israelis?

The truth, to be honest, is more complicated than that. It is easy to demand that an international journalist respect our identity and call us Palestinians. Asking that of Israelis is more difficult. The fact that so many, including in the sad joke called the “Zionist Left,” will continue referring to us as Israelis, since Netanyahu’s remarks capture something so very Israeli: course, blind, hypocritical and full of contradictions.

Let me explain. Assume for a moment that we really are Israelis. Let’s even go so far as to imagine that we were also brought here from far away, just like the Europeans who came to “make the desert bloom” or the Arab Jews who came from Arab and Muslim countries, in order to work the desert until it bloomed for the Europeans. Since the Israeli people are a light unto nations, they are also a very patriotic people. Therefore, anything that has to do with Israel must bring great pride to every real Israeli. On the other hand, any time someone degrades an Israeli symbol, expression or idea, Israelis will certainly take offense.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in front of a painting of former Likud prime minister Menachim Begin. (Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

So when the prime minister speaks out against us all while referring to us as Israeli, the entire country is supposed to cry out against such an insult to the Zionist ethos. Both right and left — everyone must have, at the very least, demanded the racist be investigated, not to mention forced to resign. How can we let him insult something so Israeli?

The phrase “Israeli Arabs,” however, is first and foremost based on Zionist propaganda meant to divide us from the rest of the Palestinian people. The fact that such a large number of Israelis are not able to see the contradictions and understand that imprisoning us in this fabricated identity while showing depraved forgiveness for those who publicly disparage us is sad, yet so very expected. It demonstrates the duality that lies at the heart of the Zionist collective consciousness — “We will call Palestinians ‘Israelis,’ and they better thank us. Equal rights? Allow them to define themselves as anything but Israeli? Not on our watch!”

When one’s consciousness is so riddled with contradictions and lacking any self-awareness, it is possible to understand how this same nation can celebrate independence, imprison and deport asylum seekers and refuse to speak about the occupation of the West Bank and the siege on Gaza. There is no way around it: Israelis act a lot more like Pharaoh.

How symbolic that just before the Jewish celebration of liberation, a term whose goal is to imprison Palestinians in a fake identity is mentioned so often. Unfortunately, there is no lack of Palestinians in Israel who have accepted the shackles of Zionist identity and identify as Israelis. This is a sore subject, but over the past few years, there is growing awareness on this issue, as more and more young Palestinians are no longer scared, and are openly confronting their own Pharaoh.

This explanation convinced Amanda, yet left her slightly confused. “But wait, one last question. What about the Arabs that were present when Netanyahu apologies for his remarks? Aren’t they Palestinians?” she asked.

“Those poodles? No. Those are Israelis.”

Read this article in Hebrew on Local Call here.

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    1. Jello

      Perhaps it would have been easier to explain to her that you don’t want to be called Israeli because you want to see the state of Israel eliminated and replaced with another. Be careful though, they might not be so sympathetic were you to actually admit it.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Whiplash

      Not long ago there was a survey done of Israeli Arabs. Two thirds said they were proud to be Israelis. 19% said they were not. Rami is one of the minority who are not proud to be Israeli and enjoy the benefits of citizenship in the only democracy in the middle east.

      I hope Israelis do not judge all Palestinians by the shallowness of Ms. Younis. There are many Christian, Druze and Muslim Arabs who support Israel. they are the majority.

      Reply to Comment
      • Danny

        “Not long ago there was a survey done of Israeli Arabs. Two thirds said they were proud to be Israelis. 19% said they were not.”

        Citation please. Otherwise, someone might suspect you’re making this up.

        “enjoy the benefits of citizenship in the only democracy in the middle east.”

        Like being allowed to vote (only not in masses, and not by taking a bus to the polls, as your PM so astutely pointed out)?

        “There are many Christian, Druze and Muslim Arabs who support Israel. they are the majority.”

        Yes, of course. Also, leprechauns support Israel and help it to guard its lucky charms beyond the rainbow.

        Reply to Comment
        • Nicci

          Truth hurts doesn’t it Danny. Fact is Israeli Arabs love Israel, would rather live in Israel than a Palestinian state. Despite all your bullshit about Israel being an apartheid state, truth is Israel is the only state in the m.e that has equality which is why Arab Israelis love being Israeli.

          Reply to Comment
      • Lee

        Actually, Tunisia is the only democracy in the Middle East.

        Millions of people who live under the authority of the Israeli government cannot vote and are under police rule.

        In Tunisia, everyone votes.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Tony Riley

      Rami, I hate to point out the bleeding obvious, but you live in Israel. Palestine is next door. Time to move, perhaps, to a place you feel more at home in.

      Reply to Comment
    4. an Israeli

      The Arabs in Israel are pushing the envelope a little bit too far and I hope the Israeli parliament and public will wake up soon and pass a few laws to remind them that they live in a JEWISH state.
      What I really hate about the attitude of the Arabs in Israel:

      1. They forget that they are the descendants of the peaople who tried to destroy Israel and the Jews. I’d keep a lower profile if I were them. They are a minority in a Jewish state that the Jews built and they act as if they are a majority in a country that they built.

      2. They forget that the standard of living, education, health system, democracy etc. that they enjoy in Israel are all thanks to the Jews who built Israel (which their parents and grandparents fought). If I were them I’d show a little more gratefulness.

      3. They forget that for decades they basically take advantage of Israel – enjoy all its benefits but give nothing back. While it is the Jews who send their children to fight the “Palestinians” or Arabs in other countries, they go to Israeli universities and get great education from the Jews and take care of their careers and jobs that the Jewish state provide them with. They learn how to be doctors, they get medical treatment, they get their social security stipends from Israeli Jews who sent their children to risk their lives fighting their ‘Palestinian” brothers – and they dare utter a word???

      3. Their attitude is that while the “Palestinians” are entitled to have a state of their own – a Palestinian state, the Jews have no such right. The Arabs in Israel say that Israel should not be a Jewish state but a state of all its citizens.
      Their audacity is unbelievable. And I think anyone who wants to run for the Israeli parliament should declare that they accept Israel as a JEWISH state. otherwise he or she have no right to influence what happens in Israel.
      The Arabs who stayed in Israel after 1948 actually continue with the hardline ideology of their parents and grandparents who rejected the 1947 UN partition plan for Palestine which called for the establishment of a JEWISH and an Arab state in Palestine.
      But they are a bit more sophisticated so instead of saying that they are against the right of Israel to exist they say – yes we accept Israel’s right to exist only that it will not be a Jewish state.

      I’m afraid it doesn’t matter that they were brought up in Israel. there is something about the Arab mentality that is so aggressive and so unable to look honestly at the facts, TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY to one’s actions that the Arabs in Israel demonstrate one sad fact – Arabs stay Arabs. It’s not without a reason that the Arab world stays undeveloped and violent. And the Arabs in Israel demostrate that they are truelly first and foremosr Arabs, perfect examples of everything that is wrong with the Arab mentality. I’m just sorry that Israel has such a population in it and that they can have a bad influence in Israel like they have in their own ountries.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        Them colored folk smell funny, and I don’t like the way they look at my daughters. (See “Goliath”).

        Reply to Comment
      • susy

        “An Israeli”,

        I will not change your ideologies, I know.

        But let me tell you that to write that “they forget that they are the descendants of the peaople who tried to destroy Israel and the Jews” is of the lowest level. They are descendants of people that 1 century ago represented the 9/10th of the total local population and that lost almost all so that you could realize your dream.

        “They are a minority in a Jewish state” because a few of them were allowed to remain on their land. When Israel was created, the Palestinians were already here, and accounted for the vast majority of the local population. This is why there are now over one million Palestinians in Israel, many of whom are known as ‘internally displaced persons’. In constrast to this, settlers arrived in the Palestinian territories through violence and incentives received in recent years from Israeli governments. Equating the former to the latter is not only simplistic, but also morally reprehensible.

        Please open you eyes: they deceived you. You think to be right: you are wrong.

        Reply to Comment
        • Sticky Rice

          Let’s assume everything you say is true. So what. The U.S. was very different 200 years ago. Let’s be pragmatic. Israel is here and not going anywhere. What is it you are looking for?

          Reply to Comment
          • Carlo

            “200 years ago” Sticky, there was no international humanitarian law. What people are looking for today is justice in terms of such law.

            Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        @ “an Israeli”: Geezus. This is exactly how racist white Southerners spoke about “them uppity n—–s” back in the day. Unbelievably offensive and supremacist. And you speak this way about the original inhabitants of the land that you displaced. How “grateful” they should be to their overlords. This is an apartheid mentality for sure.
        Ze’ev Sternhell:
        “No one ever envisioned the actual possibility that power would fall one day into the hands of people with the demeanor of masters, for whom the oppression of another nation was second nature. Who ever imagined that the Jewish community might one day turn into a colonialist entity and lay the foundations of an apartheid regime as a permanent condition, and would want to engrave that shame in its law books on top of that?”

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          Ben: “Unbelievably offensive…”

          Everything that contradicts your myths, preconceptions and simplistic extreme leftist ideology is offensive to you. You are a fascist. There, you are now welcome to be offended.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            I’m with Susy.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            I bet she is a totalitarian thought police-woman like you, Benny.

            You deserve each other…

            Reply to Comment
    5. Ben

      Great article about East Jerusalem:


      “People always said that [the issue of] Jerusalem is the toughest nut to crack, so it should be left until the end. But it’s actually the opposite: We need to start with Jerusalem and bring about a division, whether in terms of sovereignty or autonomy. After we solve that, all the rest won’t be so difficult anymore. The solution has to give these people the minimum, not only economically but also in regard to their honor.”

      Reply to Comment
    6. Ezra Basri, Ramat Gan, Israel

      I agree, we need to start to call you “Palestinians” and define you as our enemies.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Bar

      “Stop calling us Israelis, we prefer to remind everyone that we once launched a war against all of you and still support those who continue to wage war against you.”

      In the meantime, here’s a video about some Israelis who are not Jewish (Muslim, in fact) who love their country and serve it proudly.


      Reply to Comment