A new campaign has been born, and the whole thing stinks of Arab-hatred. The intention was ostensibly a good one: Senior security experts trying to promote separation from the Palestinians. But the reasons and the messages recall right-wing extremist incitement. In fact, that’s what it is: a racist campaign, with a shameful, weak bottom line.
The line is not new. For years people who consider themselves part of the peace camp have been trying to market an exit from the territories by means of what they consider a winning card: Arab-hatred. No, they don’t hate Arabs. Of course not. They want peace and democracy. But they explain to you that agreements are passé, moral explanations don’t cut it, and peace is just plain pathetic.
After all, what people here really want is not to see Arabs. So let’s give that to them big-time. Does the right wing walk all over the Arabs and enjoy public sympathy? We can do it too. Let’s get rid of the Arabs and we’ll save Israel.
For many years now, it’s gone more or less like this: “Why should we have to take care of their sewage and garbage, pay for their hospitals and deal with all the troubles and corruption of those Arabs? Just let them get out of our sight. No conferences or agreements necessary. Just let’s build a wall; they’ll be on that side with their garbage and we’ll be here with a Jewish majority.”
Powerful stuff, right? The main thing is not to mention the words “peace” or “left,” the campaign’s designers warn, and to stress one message: We don’t want Arabs. Who won’t buy that?
That’s the rub, no one will. The peace camp certainly won’t and neither will the right wing. They smell the fraud from kilometers away. Anybody who thinks they can confuse them with racist security claims will find themselves empty-handed.
To the heart of the matter, “disengagement,” or unilateral separation of that kind, is a surrender to the “no partner” propaganda of the right wing. The initiators of the campaign know that’s a lie intended to serve the main goal of the right wing – the settlements – but they don’t say so because we’ve agreed that we have to walk all over the Arabs and to be “nonpartisan” as well, so that we won’t be branded as leftists, perish the thought. They also know very well that talk of complete separation from the Palestinians is a deception. When the Palestinian state is established, and it will be, it and its citizens will be connected to Israel and Israelis by endless ties.
Yes, we’ll continue to see Arabs. That’s the reality in our small country – anyone who lives here will see Arabs and Jews. And just like we want the Arabs to understand this, we also have to understand it. Some of the people we see will be citizens of the State of Palestine, others will be citizens of the State of Israel. Or maybe we should conduct racist campaigns against a quarter of Israel’s citizens? And who’s next?
People who present relationships between Jews and Arabs as dangerous, and the Arabs, all of them, as a threat, both legitimize the racism of the right wing and sabotage the chances of a solution with their own hands. Because if the basic assumption is that we can’t stand Arabs, and clearly even after “separation” from the territories there will Arabs here, the only solution is actually to throw all of them out, or worse. That’s not the way to achieve stability or to protect Israel.
It’s a mistake to sell the public a solution to the conflict with the Palestinians by means of crushing them. That would be like selling a house without walls. It’s not popular to talk about peace? The way of peace and agreements has never been popular, but in the end it turns out to be the winning way. Because peace, as a moral value, is stronger than any utilitarian reason.
Why are murder and slavery forbidden? Because they’re not worthwhile? No, because human life and liberty are a supreme value. Why do we need to reach an agreement with the Palestinians? Because they have a right to life and liberty, and so do we.
Published in "Ha'aretz"