Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

Zvi Barel: Absentee loyalty

30 May 2010

By Zvi Barel, Haaretz – 30 May 2010

Finally we have found two people on which to hang a new bill that, if passed, would strip the citizenship of anyone convicted of terrorism or espionage against Israel

Ameer Makhoul, Omar Said

Ameer Makhoul (R), Omar Said

Finally we have found two people on which to hang a new bill that, if passed, would strip the citizenship of anyone convicted of terrorism or espionage against Israel. These two people are Ameer Makhoul and Omar Said, Israeli citizens accused of contact with a foreign agent, a Hezbollah operative. But the court’s decision will only be a footnote because the two have already been convicted in the public’s eyes for violating the “obligation of loyalty” to the State of Israel.

To the proposers of the bill, Yisrael Beiteinu MKs David Rotem and Robert Ilatov, Makhoul and Said are proof that it is necessary to deter all Israeli Arabs – automatic suspects, potential spies and dormant “terrorists.” According to the comments explaining the legislation, “This bill has been proposed due to the involvement in recent years of Israeli citizens in espionage actions against the state. The aim is to emphasize that the link between the right to Israeli citizenship and loyalty to the state cannot be undone.”

The word “Arab” is not mentioned in the legislation, but the bill is directed against the Arabs. Will anyone consider stripping Anat Kamm of her citizenship if she is convicted of espionage? Did anyone consider stripping Elhanan Tennenbaum of his citizenship for having contact with Hezbollah? What about businessman Nahum Manbar? Or Mordechai Vanunu, journalists, former Mossad members and former senior officers who published reports that could have, and still can, serve the enemy?

And how would this bill define a terrorist action? Would it be a bomb in a bus or shooting at Jewish citizens? Or maybe shooting at Palestinians picking olives? What about placing bombs near the homes of leftist activists? Or the forceful takeover of homes and property?

But the bill itself is not the problem. In any case, the Citizenship Law, as it was amended in 1980, states that “the Interior Minister is entitled to cancel the Israeli citizenship of a person who undertakes an action that is considered disloyal to the State of Israel.” A trial is not even necessary. The problem is a viewpoint that considers a community, by its mere existence, ethnic origin, language and links with what are described as enemy states as the target for this legislation. Without Arabs there would be no need for such obscene bills, because only Jews can be loyal to the state.

The result can be seen in a poll on relations between Israelis and Arabs, conducted by the University of Haifa’s Sammy Smooha. According to the study, 29 percent of Arabs don’t wish to have a Jewish friend, 62 percent fear they will be expelled from Israel (“transferred” ), 40 percent do not trust the court system, and a similar percentage supports boycotting elections.

These numbers are facts, not an explanation. It is a dynamic process, and according to the survey, it is only getting worse. According to the answers given, the problem is not with equating the conditions of Arab and Jewish communities, building sewage systems or securing jobs for Arabs. The problem is the culture of isolation that the State of Israel continues to impose on the Arab minority. It’s a culture that has transformed the Arabs from citizens into candidates for citizenship who are repeatedly asked to take a new acceptance test.

Alas, regarding their loyalty, we can learn from the way they are treated in Arab countries. There they are regarded as “strange Arabs,” almost traitors who are unwilling to take part in the resistance against Israel’s policies – a kind of people who are “lacking in loyalty to Arabs.” They are called “1948 Arabs,” not even Palestinians. Diaspora Jews know full well this catch-22, when an Israeli spy is caught in the United States and the Jewish community’s loyalty is reevaluated.

The culture of isolation does not really need laws like the one being promoted by Yisrael Beiteinu and people with racist outlooks in other parties. This is because these laws, which enjoy a nod from a public, do not create anything new. They only express the reality that has been in place for many years.

If Makhoul and Said are guilty of the charges against them, they will be punished. But Jewish society in Israel does not need a court ruling – it already knows the truth.

The complete IOA coverage of the arrest of Ameer Makhoul and Omar Said

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