Even as Israel prepares for peace talks with Palestinians in Maryland next year, its relations with native Israeli-Arab citizens have been deteriorating.
An exception to this is a court ruling — and a plot of land — won by an Arab-Israeli couple in the Galilee community of Rakefet.
The court agreed with their claim of bias in a screening process all potential new residents of the community must undergo.
Although the tests indicated they were both intelligent and well-suited to the community, officials rejected them due to their “social incompatibility.”
In another Israeli village, hundred of Druze Arabs say they were targeted by police looking for suspects who had damaged a cellular phone antenna.
Some 12 villagers were injured in the clashes that ensued, including who was shot with live ammunition, according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka, meanwhile, has joined several other Arab-Israeli leaders in protesting a new government program to draft more young Arab citizens into national service, calling it “an attempt to Israelify our youths” and likening it to being required to serve in the Israel Defense Forces.
Members of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee of Israeli Arabs have launched a counter-campaign to actively dissuade young Israeli Arabs from volunteering.
“Anyone who does national service will become a leper and Arab society will throw him up from its midst,” Zahalka told Ynetnews.com.
The Knesset also recently approved new legislation to ban its members from traveling to “enemy states” without permission, and removing all those who do so from Knesset deliberations.
The so-called “Bishara Law,” named after an Arab former minister who fled Israel after police accused him of plotting against his country during the 2006 war in Lebanon, is targeted at Arab lawmakers who have been taking trips to Syria and meeting with Hamas.
The bill’s authors claimed that such behavior “form(s) clear encouragement” of terrorist attacks on Israel.
Israeli Minister Esterina Tartman said it was “time for Israel to open its eyes. Enough of Arab Knesset members spitting in our faces and us saying it’s raining.”
“If we have to choose between loyalty to our people, or serving in the Knesset, then good luck to the Knesset,” responded Arab-Israeli Minister Muhammad Barakei. “We’ll leave the Knesset to you, and all the racists can choke.”
“High Court orders Galilee community to accept Arab residents”
Ynetnews.com (Israel), November 1, 2007
“Arab-Israeli MK: Don’t Israelify us”
Ynetnews.com (Israel), October 27, 2007
“Over 28 injured in riots in northern Israeli-Arab village”
DPA (Germany), October 30, 2007
“Knesset bills spark fury of Arab MKs”
Jerusalem Post, October 31, 2007