During the latest conflict with Hamas terrorists, Israeli Arabs proved that they have learned nothing from their national movement’s failure.

Obviously, only some Israeli Arabs took part in the attacks on Jews and their property. In fact, the criminal acts were carried out by a small minority. Likewise, the incitement was also perpetrated by a handful of them, despite wielding a great deal of influence. But the responsibility rests on the collective because of the support of the leaders.

The conduct of Israeli Arab leaders and their failure to engage in soul searching has not been lost on the general Jewish public. The counterreaction to this will adversely impact those who actually do want to integrate into Israeli society. That is, on the majority of Israeli Arabs.

Students of the Israeli-Arab conflict who have not fallen for self-deception will not be surprised to find out that Jews are going to start treating Israeli Arabs with understandable suspicion from now on, even as they embrace coexistence, despite some who have tried to drive home the mantra of there being “extremists on both sides.”

Every national security official will now be required to prepare contingencies for a multi-front war in which Israeli Arabs join the fighting against the Jewish state.

Even if only 10 percent of the sector is involved, even if most do not participate in riots or terrorist attacks, we’re still talking about tens of thousands. We have seen this already in the October 2000 riots, and in the latest round of violence, resulting in vital roads and national infrastructure being targeted.

The elected leadership and the Arab sector’s organizations that pretend to stand up for human rights have already joined the political war that Israel’s enemies are waging. Thus, participation is only expected to increase.

The following two examples reflect what the Israeli Arab leadership is all about. Joint Arab List leader Ayman Odeh, who some call a “moderate,” has been showering praise on what he called “Arab youth,” but his constituents know full well that this was a codeword for the actual rioters and those who waved flags of Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

And then there was his second baffling statement during the riots, as millions of Israelis were seeking refuge in shelters from rockets and were afraid to go out in mixed cities for fear of being lynched.

Displaying unbelievable nerve, Odeh complained about the malfunctioning traffic lights that the rioters themselves had destroyed, lamenting that the authorities were in no rush to fix them. “It is an unfair collective punishment,” he said.

Such conduct is beyond the pale and makes it hard for the general public to show respect for Israeli Arab society. Especially when its leaders fail to stand up to terrorist acts, and wax poetic about rioters.

Dan Schueftan is the director of the International Graduate Program in National Security Studies at the University of Haifa’s National Security Studies Center.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.


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