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IF THE ARABS DON'T SERVE IN THE ARMY, THEY SHOULDN'T VOTE
by Yoram Shifftan
The essence of a democracy - as it is of Judaism - is a strong connection between the rights of a citizen and his duties as a citizen.
Yet a representative of the Israeli Arabs has declared that it is inconceivable to consider enlisting Israeli Arabs in the Army just as French and German Jews were not asked to serve in the army. (The Voice of Israel on Arye Goose's program about the New Middle East, 14.9.03.)
This is not true. In World War 1, French and British Jews fought German Jews and none was free from military service because a Jew might kill another Jew. Most recently, a British court rejected an application of a British Muslim from the Territorial Army to not take part in the war in Iraq because he was a Muslim. Actually, Israel is the only country in the world that endows a community of its citizens with full voting rights on both local and national levels without also requiring them to serve in the army. This is deeply undemocratic.
Israeli Arabs even refuse the alternative National Service. They even refuse a national service in their own communities and exercise intimidation against members of their community that raise the subject. For example in 2001, a janitor in an Arab Israeli secondary school that tried to convince pupils of the higher classes to consider volunteering to national service in their community was fired from his job for this 'unpatriotic' attempt.
It has been argued that ultra-orthodox Jews are also exempt. But it is not the case that the whole Haradi community of citizens is free from military service. Only part of this community is free to postpone their military service and only under well-defined conditions.
It is intuitively clear that the willingness to risk one's life for one's country is the ultimate and main test of loyalty to a state which grants the right to participate in the taking of decisions of consequence to the life of the state and its people. There is something deeply undemocratic that Israeli Arabs can vote to decide, say, whether there will be a withdrawal from the Golan without themselves be willing to pay the price in blood, in case this was a bad decision.
What would happen if all of a sudden Israeli Arabs had a complete change of heart and, suddenly, they became keen to do military service? This is so improbable that it is at present impractical to consider such an eventuality. At present all the MKs (members of the Israeli parliament) of the Arab parties are against the existence of the Jewish state. Moreover, an increasing number of Israeli Arabs manifest disloyalty to the state of Israel and more and more of them take an active part in helping and carrying out terrorism. So how could they be trusted to serve in the Israeli army even if they wanted to?
The reason for their not serving in the army - whether because of their own desires or because they are untrustworthy - is of secondary consideration. What counts is that it is undemocratic to endow a well-defined community of the population with full voting rights on the national level and simultaneously not require them to serve in the army. This makes Israel different from all the other democracies.
Why is it so important to behave in a really democratic way and to remove voting rights on the national level from Israeli Arabs? There are four major reason:
First, there is the moral reason. There will be a correlation between rights and duties for a larger proportion of its citizens. Israel, among all democracies, is the only one that gives full voting rights to a whole community that isn't required to do military service.
Second, it would be fair. Israeli Jews begin their studies or working life three years later than Israeli Arabs. Besides their three years of compulsory military service, they face decades of reserve duty every year, which disrupts their family and working life and their attractiveness to employers. And, of course, many of them lose their life and health during these long decades. Is it fair that those that are not subject to these duties and dangers exercise the same voting right on the national level, where the consequence of their vote will not primarily affect them but only the Jewish part of the population?
Third, this will remove the pretext that we cannot densely settle Western Palestine with Jews - a settlement which is encouraged by international law - because of the demographic dangers. Eliminate the demographic concerns, and the reasons for the Jews to retain Biblical Israel - historic, religious, by unbroken residence (except when Jordan had control between 1948 and 1968 and killed or expelled the Jewish residents) and by right of conquest - are compelling. The Arabs themselves claim to be of one nation. So, logically, they should have one state. Nonetheless, they have 22 states to fulfil their national aspirations. Jordan, one of these states, is Palestinian and Arab. It was created from almost 4/5ths of Mandated Palestine, even though all of Palestine was destined by international law to become a Jewish state. (See http://jewishinternetassociation.org/articles/shifftan_18sep03.html) The Arabs currently in Western Palestine could vote for the parliament in Amman.
Fourth, many decisions that are against the interest of the Jewish nation are taken by Israeli politicians in an effort to court the Arab vote on the national level. They have discovered that the best way to court this vote is to promote the goal of Israel ceasing to be a Jewish state. The process of removing Jewish emblems, titles and icons is already underway. For example, the name of the Histadruth, the general trade union, was changed, to omit the word Eretz Israel. Indifferent to Jewish roots, they have allowed the Arabs' continued destruction of Jewish archaeology on the Temple Mount. They have set up various inquiring committees, which, surprise, surprise, always find the Jews guilty, the Arabs blameless. They never exercise self-defence in a manner exercised by other Western democracies. The result has been a great loss in Jewish life.
As a typical example, they decided not to use the airforce (after a warning to civilians to evacuate the area) in Jenin in April 2002, and 23 reservists died as a result. Putting aside the dreadful and unnecessary loss of Jewish lives, this sacrifice did nothing to improve Israel's image in the world. A certain Lord Achmed - who sits in the British house of Lords - repeatedly talks on the BBC about the massacre in Jenin and he is not challenged about his false statements. In Israel, there is an Israeli Arab, whose family members have admitted supporting terrorism and have been convicted in court. He has not expressed regret for this. Yet he has been allowed to make a film about Jenin that is easily demonstrated to be a pack of lies. And this is done with the blessing of Israel's Supreme Court in the name of freedom of expression. Israel is a democracy under siege that has to defend itself, but it allows itself a 'liberal' approach that even democracies at peace do not afford themselves. The effect on I.D.F. morale and motivation is suicidal.
The courting of the Arab vote includes concealing pro-Israel facts in Israel's internal and external Hasbara (PR and information) and in its education policy. While the criticism of Israel focuses on the illegality of the settlements, there has been a stubborn refusal on the part of official Israel for at least a decade to declare the truth: that the settlements are not only legal but are to be encouraged according to international law. (See http://www.think-israel.org/shifftan.html.)
This working against one's national interests continues, even as the Bush's administration reduces the loan guarantees because of the fence and the settlements, as the UN General assembly moves the question of the fence to the court in the Hague, and as the European community plans to tax products from the settlements. Had Israel's official representatives openly told us and the world that international law requires the encouragement of Jewish settlements in the whole of Western Palestine (see http://jewishinternetassociation.org/articles/shifftan_29jul03.html), these anti-Israel moves could be counteracted more effectively.
Furthermore, at a time of increasing fears from WMD, including from Iran's nuclear capability, a logical approach would entail explaining to the Israeli public and to the world at large the-greater-than-usual importance of densely settling Jews in the whole of Western Palestine and in YESHA in particular. An Arab settlement next to a Jewish one just increases the deterrence against the use of WMD. Instead the government wants to do the opposite and concentrate Jews in a very limited area with a minimum amount of Arabs around so that the Jews will constitute a more attractive target.
One way to see how things have changed since the beginning of the Oslo process and the extent of the psychological warfare directed at Israel is to observe that before the nineties 'Lenin's fools' such as Yossi Sharid and Shulamit Aloni would not be considered for Minister of Education or Yossi Beilin for Minister of Justice. It would be inconceivable for example even under a 'left-wing' labor government of David Ben Gurion. The real danger posed to Israel by 'Lenin's useful idiots' is surveyed in Israel and the Post-Zionists: a Nation at Risk (Edited by Shlomo Sharan. Sussex Academic Press, 2003)
Perhaps the best example of the catastrophic result of courting the Arab vote was the role it played in initiating the Oslo Process. As detailed in the newspaper Hadashot, in 1992, Beilin was sent by Peres to Arafat to tell him that if Arafat would convince Israeli Arabs to vote for labor, then, as a reward, contacts with the PLO would be made legal and the road to a "Palestinian State" initiated. And this is indeed what happened. Even later, the Oslo Accord would not have passed in the Knesset without the Arab vote. To realize the absurdity of allowing Arab voters a say in the acceptance of the Oslo Accord, recall that this Arab vote would object to the existence of a Jewish state in 1948 and has ever since.
Furthermore, when it became clear that the Palestinians were not keeping their part of the agreement, this, and the ongoing incitement in the Palestinian media, were actively hidden from the Israeli public all through the nineties. Amazingly, all along, and even recently, Peres justified the giving of the Nobel Prize to Arafat (indeed if Arafat's Nobel prize is not justifiable, then automatically Peres's Nobel prize is not justified). There is no need to detail the cost in Jewish blood and other assets as a result of the catastrophy of the Oslo agreement. It makes simply common sense that Jewish vote alone would be involved in decisions such as whether to accept or reject such proposals.
Allowing the Arabs that do not serve in the army - as distinct from the Druze and the bedouin communities that do serve in the army - a vote on the national level means that the results from the multitude of polls carried out recently - particularly those done by Haaretz and the Voice of Israel - are misleading. The leftist commentators discuss with great enthusiasm, and marvel at, results such as: "30% of the Israeli public are for the Geneva Program of Yossi Beilin," or "30% of the Israeli public support the 27 renegade Israeli pilots," Other such polls seem to show the public is for the evacuation of the Jewish settlements. On the basis of such polls the commentators then advocate pro-Arab policies that most sane Israeli Jews would not even consider. What the public is not told is that at least 20% of those who supported the Geneva Accord and wanted the Jewish settlements evacuated were Arab Israelis, who do not serve in the army and who would automatically support any move that would weaken Israel as a Jewish state. When the voice of Israel was asked about this, it responded that it would be almost racist to state it explicitly. This is hypocritical because they normally do many sub-polls; e.g., how many voters from a particular party support a certain opinion. These polls actually showed that only 10%, not 30%, of the relevant public supported the Geneva Accord and the other anti-Israeli tactics of the Israeli Left.
Besides encouraging a misreading of public opinion, the poll helps mold opinions. Because of acharei rabim lehatot, i.e., the human tendency to support what the majority supports, the poll is a shaping tool rather than a trustworthy gauge of attitudes.
If it is decided that Israeli Arabs will not have voting rights on the national level, it of course follows that they will not take part in general national elections and in polls to determine how the public feels about issues important to it and Israel's future.
The Israeli public does not seem even to realize the aberrations in its super-liberal-and-suicidal democracy. This may be due to a certain provincial streak. It may be the result of the psychological warfare directed at the Israeli public by external agencies via the services of Lenin's fools, who often also get material rewards. The tendency to ignore reality and to cultivate wishful thinking could be a type of Stockholm's syndrome aggravated by the weariness of years of conflict and a desperate search for peace. Whatever the reason, there is an acceptance of a suicidal liberalism that would be unacceptable elsewhere. Is it conceivable that a British citizen would be an advisor to Hitler and immediately afterwards become a British member of Parliament? Even though the Irish underground never threatened the existence of the British state, is it conceivable that a British citizen would be an advisor to the Irish underground and immediately afterwards become a British member of parliament. But in Israel, an Israeli arab (Achmed Tibi) is allowed to be an advisor to Arafat and immediately afterwards is allowed to become a member of the Israeli parliament (Knesset). There was not even a discussion about the conflict of interest involved.
Israeli Arab MKs go to Syria and other Arab countries and meet with terrorist leaders and publically express support for their activities. They call the deliberate killing of defenceless civilians freedom fighting. They act explicitly against the dominant Jewish nature of the state of Israel, praise Hizballa as patriots and denounce those Lebanese and other Arabs that are friendly to Israel as traitors. Yet they are secure in their seats in the Knesset because of parliamentary immunity. The Arab Israeli MKs use the democratic tools which they would never enjoy in any Arab country to subvert the only Jewish state. And it is the super-liberal unparalleled and suicidal nature of the Israeli democracy that allows them to do it.
Dr. Yoram Shifftan is a scientist who has often written about Israeli Hasbara. He ran the Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) radio program dedicated to Israeli hasbara.
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