The lie about rights and duties

The injustice that is being done to the Druze is an in-built Zionist matter.

Salman Masalha || The lie about rights and duties

We are not going to discuss how to get the desert to bloom here but rather how the public discourse in Israel is made devoid of content. Many people with bad intentions take part in the attempt to cover our eyes and block our ears. Because after all, there is no greater lie than that sold by populist politicians, the cynical and "engaged" media, and those who tell all kinds of stories. Anyone who draws a link between granting civil rights and fulfilling duties will no doubt be surprised to read what will follow here.

We are not talking about the ultra-Orthodox who evade the draft but rather about citizens who fulfill their duties of loyalty to the state. These are citizens who serve in the army, pay with the blood of their sons, and who have been doing so for many decades, but it does not seem that any kind of social justice is knocking on their doors.

All the claims of rights that will be given to citizens in return for duties will be refuted when we examine what has happened to the Druze citizens. Because the injustice that is being done to the Druze is an in-built Zionist matter. The lack of social justice is obvious to all - you just have to stretch out your hand to touch it.

It is the central government that is responsible for this, through its arbitrary allocation of municipal areas of jurisdiction. Its aim is to exclude the Arab citizens and separate them from the areas and the lands that belong to them. By giving widescale areas of jurisdiction to the Jewish regional councils, they prevent any possibility of future development in the Arab communities, and this of course includes the Druze villages. But there is more to this. As we all know, a considerable percentage of the local councils' income is derived from the "arnona," or local property tax, that is paid by industrial areas, factories, government offices and institutions, army bases, prisons, and so forth. But lo and behold - when a large industrial area like the Tefen industrial zone, for example, is established in the vicinity of Druze villages, (Jatt, Kisra, and Kfar Sami'a ) the Jewish brain finds an ingenious way to ensure that the "arnona" will not be paid to them. This is how the industrial regional council was born.

And here is yet another example. This time it is the Merom Hagalil regional council. This local council has control of very large areas, starting at the border with Lebanon in the north and extending to Tiberias in the south, and stretching from Safed in the east to Carmiel in the west. Some 11,000 citizens live there, the vast majority of whom are Jewish. However what is most upsetting to see is that the areas of jurisdiction of this council cover some 200,000 dunams. By contrast, in the Druze town of Maghar in Lower Galilee, there are 20,000 residents. The town is located in the third cluster of the socio-economic scale which means that it is at the bottom of the scale. And even though the number of residents in Maghar is double the number of the residents living in the Merom Hagalil regional council, its area of jurisdiction is a mere 20,000 dunams in total. That is to say, it is only ten percent of the area of the Merom Hagalil council. And as if that were not enough, part of the lands belonging to the residents of Maghar have been added so to speak, to the area under the jurisdiction of the Merom Hagalil council. But there is still more to the story. A military base was set up on the lands of Maghar, and in recent years, the large complex of the Hermon and Tzalmon prisons was also built there. These institutions almost touch the homes in the town but for some strange reason, the "arnona" payments of these institutions do not go into the coffers of Maghar.

Indeed, these facts in the field cry out for all to hear. All the governments in Israel, from the very start, have taken pains to try and restrict the development of the Arab local councils and the injustice that has been done to the Druze community whose sons pay for their civic duties with their blood, is a conspicuous example of that. So don't let them tell you stories about rights that depend on fulfilling duties.

Published: Opinions-Haaretz, 18 July 2012

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