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November 27, 2016 3:42 pm

Israel’s Arab Leadership Must Cease Fanning the Flames of Hatred

avatar by Daniel Krygier

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One of the forest fires that spread across Israel. Photo: Twitter/Israel News Feed.

One of the forest fires that spread across Israel. Photo: Twitter/Israel News Feed.

The current wave of Palestinian and Arab arson in Israel is being fueled and encouraged by antisemitic incitement on Arab social media.

Although the arsonists constitute an extremist minority among Arab Israelis, there can be no doubt that years of racist incitement against Israel and Jews by much of the Arab political and religious leadership has led to this latest outbreak of violence.

Many of Israel’s harshest critics claim that its democracy has failed its minority of Arab citizens. In reality, Arab-Israeli leaders have failed Israeli democracy. The vitriolic hatred of Israel frequently expressed by Arab members of the Knesset and by Muslim leaders in Israel would be considered treason in any other country.

Freedom of expression and political dissent are fundamental and healthy components of any democracy. Yet much of the Arab leadership in Israel does not oppose specific Israeli policies, but the very existence of the Jewish state. This anti-Jewish racism is coupled with hypocrisy, as Israel’s Arab leaders openly support a 22nd Arab state in the disputed territories, while demanding the dissolution of the world’s only Jewish nation-state.

Overall, the integration of Israel’s Arab citizens has been successful. Polls show that most Arab Israelis would not want to live in any other country than Israel. They enjoy significant cultural and religious freedoms and rights that are denied to the vast majority of Arabs in the Middle East (and the Palestinian territories). Arab Israelis also enjoy a higher life expectancy than most Americans and Europeans. Furthermore, the socioeconomic gaps between Arabs and Jews in Israel are gradually narrowing, as more and more young Arab Israelis enroll in the university system and become integrated into the economy.

Arab leaders must recognize that the rights of citizenship are inseparable from the obligations of citizenship — and that treason will not be tolerated. The Arab arsonists and their extremist supporters are not only threatening the safety of Israeli citizens, but also nearly seven decades of progress in Arab-Jewish relations in the Jewish state.

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