Israel’s Arabs Need Better Leaders

Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim, is a veteran award-winning journalist who has been covering Palestinian affairs for nearly three decades. He studied at Hebrew University and began his career as a reporter by working for a PLO-affiliated newspaper in Jerusalem. Abu Toameh currently works for the international media, serving as the ‘eyes and ears’ of foreign journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

By Khaled Abu Toameh for the Gatestone Institute:

  • It is hard to see how the words and actions of these Arab Israeli leaders help, if at all, the Arab citizens of Israel.
  • It is time for these citizens to stand up to those Arab Israeli leaders who are causing them huge damage and remind them that they are supposed to represent Israeli Arabs and not the PLO or Hamas.
  • It is also time for them to start searching for better leaders.

Some representatives of the Arab community in Israel are continuing to cause tremendous damage both to their constituents and coexistence between Jews and Arabs.

These representatives, who serve in the Knesset (Parliament), have forgotten that they were elected to look after the interests of Israel’s Arab citizens.

Their fiery rhetoric and provocative actions are the main reason why a growing number of Israeli Jews have begun relating to Arab citizens as a “fifth column” and an “enemy from within.”

These Knesset members are obviously confused as to who their constituents are. Many of them seem to believe that they were elected to the Knesset to represent the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Of course, not all of the 11 Arab Knesset members (out of 120) are involved in provocations and inflammatory rhetoric. Half of them appear to be working toward improving the living conditions of the 1.5 million Arab citizens of Israel.

The other half, however, do not seem to care about the problems facing their constituents in the Galilee, Triangle and Negev. Over the past decade, these Knesset members have done a great job representing the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

It is possible that these representatives are so desperate to win media attention that they are willing to say or do anything that would provoke Israeli Jews. They know that dealing with the problems of infrastructure, unemployment and poverty in the Arab sector are not going to draw media attention.

They have learned that the best and fastest way to grab headlines is by issuing inflammatory statements or engaging in provocative actions against Israel.

… On another occasion, Zoabi compared Israeli soldiers to Islamic State terrorists. “They (Islamic State) kill one person with a knife each time, while the IDF kills dozens of Palestinians at a time by pressing a button,” Zoabi said. “The soldier remains in the plane when he launches strikes and he does not see the victim – the wings of the plane just lightly shift. IDF soldiers are no less a terrorist than the ones who behead. They kill more than a knife kills.”

It is hard to see how the words and actions of these Arab Israeli leaders help, if at all, the Arab citizens of Israel. On the contrary; these representatives seem to be determined to damage relations between Jews and Arabs inside Israel, the same way Hamas and the PLO destroyed any prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The leaders of the Israeli Arabs are damaging their people’s hopes of being fully integrated into Israeli society and being looked upon by Israeli Jews as equal and loyal partners.

It is time for these citizens to stand up to those Arab Israeli leaders who are causing them huge damage and remind them that they are supposed to represent Israeli Arabs and not the PLO or Hamas.

It is also time for them to start searching for better leaders before it is too late to stop the rapid deterioration of relations between Israel’s Arabs and Jews.

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