So Ha'aretz today has this story, which should really give anyone who cares at all about Israel's continued existence pause.
According to a position paper written by Mossawa - the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel and presented in a conference in Nazareth on Friday, Israeli Arabs want the right to return to villages abandoned in 1948, educational autonomy and changes to the Israeli flag and national anthem.
The paper, written in close coordination with the Israel Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, was presented as part of the week-long Second Annual Days of Mossawa Festival and Nazareth Film Festival, which ended Saturday.
"Our goal is to achieve a historic compromise with the Jewish community in Israel," Mossawa Center director Jafar Farah told the conference. "The move by refugees of 1948 to their villages will not change the demographic balance or endanger the Jews. Unlike the refugees in Arab states, we are [already] here," Farah said. "The internal refugees [residents forced to leave their villages in 1948 who moved to other Arab communities within Israel] represent about one-fourth of the Arab population in Israel today."
When I say "Israel's continued existence," I'm referring, of course, to Israel's existence as a Jewish state, as the Jewish national homeland, the embodiment of and sole hope for Jewish self-determination. That is, after all, what Hatikva, the Israeli national anthem, is all about. That is, after all, what the blue Magen David framed by the stripes of the tallit (prayer shawl) on a white background, the Israeli flag, is supposed to symbolize.
So when Israel's Arab citizens start demanding changes to the national anthem and the flag, what they're talking about isn't what we in America think of as civil rights. They're talking about an end to Medinat Yisrael. They're advocating the evolution of Israel into a country that will shed its Jewish character in the interest of embracing all of its citizens equally and identically. That, after all, is what democracy is all about, right? Creating a melting pot, which in this case would in short order melt right back in to the surrounding neighborhood which is, of course, Arab and Muslim.
That's the idea. To wash away the State of Israel as if it had never been. To return to the status quo ante, to the Middle East of the early 19th century, where Jews knew their place and were permitted to live quietly as dhimmis in their own homeland and elsewhere -- so long as they behaved -- so long as nobody objected, for whatever reason.
The Israeli Arabs want the right to return to villages abandoned in 1948. Well, why not? They're free to live where they wish, aren't they? Except that the villages they're talking about here don't exist any more. Or they're populated by other people. So what this is about is a form of population transfer. Yes, transfer. The expulsion of the Jews now living in communities built decades ago on the sites of those villages and their transfer to somewhere else. It's about disrupting Jewish communities and reestablishing facts on the ground that would naturally pave the way for the next logical step -- the invitation of non-Israeli Arabs to "return" to these "villages" as well. The whole thing is so transparent that it's almost funny. But it isn't designed to be taken seriously by Israelis or anyone else who understands the true objective. It's a sound bite designed to provide ammunition to Israel's enemies in the global PR war.
A little of this leaks out at the end of the article, but even this is (thinly) cloaked in disingenuous double-talk.
Another participant, Dr. Raef Zreik, said the position paper does not refer to the Israeli Arabs' position regarding the Jewish majority in the country. He said the Israeli Arabs can officially recognize the right of the Jewish public to a state only as part of an overall peace agreement with the Palestinian people.
The fact that Israeli Arabs today are openly discussing whether and under what conditions they might consider officially recognizing the right of the Jewish people to a state is what ought to cause a lot of well-meaning liberal jaws to drop. I do hope it will.