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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Our fifth column

Scott Wilson, the Washington Post's Israel correspondent, took a trip to Nazareth to see how people there were reacting to what's going on in Lebanon. Mr. Wilson fell lock, stock and barrel for what he was told. As you read this article, you will realize that everyone Mr. Wilson spoke to is a Muslim. But in 1946, 60% of Nazareth's population was Christian and as recently as 1983, 40% was Christian. In the late 90's and the early part of this decade, there was a dispute because the Islamic movement wished to build a mosque on the site of the Church of the Annunciation (thus continuing the process of co-opting other religions' holy sites that it has undertaken in Israel and India among other places). As of the end of 2005, 35-40% of Nazareth's population is Christian, and this may now be one of the highest percentages of Christians in the Middle East (go back to the first link and take a look at what they say about Bethlehem for comparison).

Scott Wilson was trying to be sensitive to what he felt were the inherent conflicts - what some might call the 'dual loyalties' - involved in being an Arab citizen of Israel. But there are no dual loyalties as the people whom he interviews make clear. The people whom Mr. Wilson interviewed are all very clearly not loyal to Israel, despite the fact that they have more political rights here than any Arab or Muslim anywhere in the Arab and Muslim world. Here, they have the right to vote, the right to serve in the Knesset, and they have all the civil rights and protections under the law that Israeli Jews have. De facto, Arabs are not allowed to serve on certain security-sensitive committees in the Knesset, and many Jews are afraid or unwilling to hire them. Read what these people are saying. You will see that there is no question of these people being loyal to Israel. Yes, there are Arabs out there who are loyal to Israel (and there are even Beduins and Druze who serve in the army). But the vast majority of Muslims are biding their time here until they can throw out the Jews and join the Caliphate:
Amin Abu Taha, a dentist with two teenage children, worried as he took a midday break outside a coffeehouse along Paulus VI Avenue. "Israel is the most powerful state in the Middle East," he said, sweating in the summer heat. "But rockets do not discriminate. This is an old story that must be resolved."

The barrage around midnight Sunday caused no casualties and it remained unclear whether Hezbollah intended to hit Nazareth or the nearby Jewish town of Nazaret Ilit. But the explosions prompted feelings of fear, despair and a touch of pride here in Israel's largest Arab city.

Conversations along Paulus VI Avenue, empty of the Christian tourists who come to the place known as the home town of Jesus, also highlighted the peculiar place that Arab citizens hold within the Jewish state, especially in times of war. "From a political perspective, we have no impact," Abu Taha said. "And we know it."

The roughly 1.2 million Arab citizens of Israel -- one-fifth of the population -- do not serve in the army, now engaged on the northern and southern borders. They have slim representation in parliament [They have ten seats out of 120, not counting the mixed Arab-Jewish Hadash party and not counting the Arab members of the Jewish parties. That they have less than their percentage in the population is attributable to the fact that their voter turnout is much lower than Jewish voter turnout. CiJ], and receive scant government support for the kind of bunkers and warning systems that have been well used in other northern Israeli cities since the fighting began.

The people here also have far fewer places to flee than the Jewish residents of northern Israel, thousands of whom are heading south to family and friends to wait out the war. For many of the 75,000 Arabs of this city, their only family is in Lebanon -- where, since the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, they have lived in refugee camps and cities that now may be under Israeli attack. [Does anyone know any Jews from World War II Europe or their descendants who are still living in 'refugee' or DP camps? I didn't think so. Does anyone know of any other people anywhere in the world who are still in 'refugee' camps 58 years after leaving their home? I didn't think so. This is the result of UNRWA and these people being held hostage to the interests of the twenty-two Arab states who regard Israel as a 'cancer' on the Middle East. CiJ]

Along streets and in market stalls abuzz with radio news broadcasts, opinions ranged Monday from fear that Hezbollah would target the city center to rage at other Arab nations for not joining the fight against Israel. Despite the rocket attacks, Nazareth remains a restive exception in a country that has largely rallied around the attacks inside Lebanon.
Read the whole thing.


At 12:09 AM, Blogger Concerned UCI Student said...

RSS is working again! :)

At 1:22 AM, Blogger Smooth said...

SandMonkey has put up an anti-Israel post today. Have you seen it?

At 4:50 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

concerned uci student,

Blogger told me that I mess up the RSS if I cut and paste html code into the wysiwyg reader. I'm trying to be careful not to do that. If I do it, the RSS will be messed up until the post in question works its way off the home page. Sorry!


Your URL got cut off. I'd be happy if you sent it to my email contact.


No I haven't. I will try to check it out, but I actually got up early this morning to work (not blog!)


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