Benign Neglect

Halevi, Yossi Klein
February 2004
New Republic;2/23/2004, Vol. 230 Issue 6, p14
This article looks at the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian territorial issues. Sheik Hashem Abdel Rahman, the Islamist mayor of this Arab Israeli town bordering the West Bank, has just returned from pilgrimage to Mecca and is receiving well-wishers in his salon, which is decorated with photographs of Arab Israeli youths killed in anti-government riots. Prime Minister Sharon's announcement of unilateral withdrawal from Gaza has obscured his other, no less stunning plan to cede the Triangle, the overwhelmingly Arab area parallel to Israel's coastal plain whose largest town is Umm El Fahm. And, while only a miniscule number of Arab Israelis have been involved in terrorism since then, the discovery of Arab Israeli terror cells--such as the alleged Hezbollah-backed Galilee cell uncovered this week, which involved a prominent figure in Arab Israeli politics--no longer shocks. The proposed severance of Umm El Fahm from the Jewish state raises basic questions about Israel's future relationship with its Arab citizens, with the Middle East, and with its own territorial integrity. The very threat of rescinding Israeli citizenship could have a deterrent effect on growing extremism among Arab Israelis by emphasizing that Israeli citizenship requires basic loyalty, especially as a Palestinian state emerges just over the border.


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