Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A pinprick in the “equal burden” balloon


Sometimes the use of the oriental imagination is needed like air to breathe. I have often argued that attributing oriental imagination to the Arabs is tantamount to slander...

Salman Masalha

A pinprick in the “equal burden” balloon

One fine day Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu awoke from a bad coalition dream and discovered the incredible. He scratched his brain until he saw the light at the end of the government tunnel. Suddenly he remembered that there are Ishmaelite parliamentarians serving in the Israeli Knesset, sent there by a large Arab public to swear loyalty to the state of Israel. For nearly seven decades now they have been sent there time after time and time after time they swear their loyalty.

Netanyahu, who has also been roaming the Knesset corridors for many years, is certainly aware that there are elected legislators in the Knesset who are not among the voters for the Zionist parties. However, for some reason he has never taken these Knesset members into his calculations. The truth is that not only he but also all his predecessors, both from the left and from the right, never counted the Arab voters of the sort who vote in their clan ballot boxes of their Zionist parties.

And now, all of a sudden, when the Zionist quandary – religion or state? – has once again become visible to everyone the scheming prime minister has recalled the same tricks that have always served him well. Everyone has to share in the burden, including the ultra-Orthodox and the Arabs, he declared, and he also picked up the phone and spoke personally with some of them, as has been reported.

But to paraphrase a comment made by Netanyahu in another context – is it possible that the prime minister has forgotten what it means to be a Zionist? No, he has not forgotten. As his late father testified about him in an interview to Channel 2: “Benjamin does not support a Palestinian state, except on conditions the Arabs will never accept. I heard this from him.”Now too, in the context of “equal sharing of the burden,” it is clear that all the talk about conscripting Arabs, in one way or another, is empty talk no one intends to implement. After all, this issue didn’t just crop up today for the first time. It has been accompanying the state since its first steps.

Things happened in the past and they are engraved in the chronicles of the Knesset. As is well known, the Israeli Communist Party welcomed the founding of the state of Israel and even saw it as “a victory for all the forces of freedom and democracy in the Middle East,” in the words of Knesset Member Tawfik Toubi in a speech in the Knesset in 1949. And not only that. Back in 1950, MK Meir Wilner of the Israeli Communist Party, in a speech in the Knesset complained of the delay in the conscription of Arabs under the Defense Forces Law.

His Arab party comrade Toubi also expressed his anger at that time and attacked the non-implementation of the law, calling the non-conscription of Arabs a manifestation of discrimination: “Why is the government excluding the Arab citizens of conscription age from military service, even though many of them have evinced willingness to fulfill their obligation as citizens demanding to benefit from all rights? There is no doubt this is one of the most blatant phenomena of the racial discrimination in the government’s policy, which is inimical to every effort to gain the friendship of the Arab masses.”

Sometimes the use of the oriental imagination is needed like air to breathe. I have often argued that attributing oriental imagination to the Arabs is tantamount to slander, for if the elected representatives of Israel’s Arab citizens were blessed with even only a tiny bit of oriental imagination, they would be able with the stroke of a single declaration to take the populist wind out of the Zionist sails. They would declare that they are adopting MK Tawfik Toubi’s 1950 speech in the Knesset.

It would take only one declaration, one small pinprick, to expose the Zionist lie that inflates from time to time. When that happens, we shall see what the champions of “equal sharing of the burden” have to say when the fraudulent Zionist balloon busts in their faces.

Published: Opinions-Haaretz, July 8, 2012

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