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Arab Citizens vs. Arab Parties

Ma’ariv, Israel, March 17

There is something important that all Israeli citizens – whether they are Arab, Jewish, Druze, or others – should know: Israel provides equal rights for all. In Israel, an Arab politician can become prime minister if he so desires. All he needs to do is compete in the elections and convince a majority of the Israeli public in his or her political worldview. Maybe one day this will happen. There is not a single clause in Israeli law that prohibits this. There is also no reason to believe that Arabs cannot lead Israel skillfully. Jews were excellent prime ministers in non-Jewish states; so, too, can Arab or Muslim politicians be outstanding leaders in Israel. The problem, therefore, is not with Arab citizens. The problem is with Arab parties. We must not conflate the Arab parties, which are illiberal gatherings of corrupt individuals calling to destroy Israel, with Arab individuals who seek to become active members of Israeli society. Allow me to remind our readers that Israel is a Jewish state. This makes it different from many other countries around the world. Israel’s Jewish character is the country’s fundamental defining principle. It implies that the Israeli government is committed not only to maintaining a Jewish majority in the country, but also to maintaining close ties with world Jewry more broadly. Winston Churchill acknowledged this reality in one of his famous speeches, when he reminded global leaders that a Jewish homeland in Palestine was given not for the sake of Palestine’s Jews, but for the sake of Jews in the Diaspora—those who were persecuted, tortured, and murdered. We could all benefit from remembering Churchill’s words. Israel is an idea before it is a nation. In this sense, it is committed neither to the Arab citizen nor to its Jewish one. Rather, it is committed to a combination of all of those, and many other individuals who live beyond its borders. – Meir Uziel