The Disloyalty of the Israeli-Arab Leadership

What does it mean when an Honorable Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel refuses to sing the Israeli national anthem?

In a democratic society like Israel, all citizens - Arabs, Jews, and others – are protected by the laws and have responsibilities as well.  A primary responsibility is loyalty to their state.  Arab-Israeli leaders obviously understand the “contract” that exists between the state and its citizenry better than the average citizen. Yet, time and again, the Arab-Israeli leadership has shown contempt for the State of Israel in undermining the Jewish State and its symbols.  The latest example of this behavior resides with the Arab-Israeli Supreme Court Justice.

Honorable Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, Salim Jubran, refused to sing the Israeli national anthem at the swearing in of the new Chief Justice, Honorable Asher Grunis, on Tuesday, February 28, 2012.  Knesset members from the Right-of-Center parties were furious at this gesture of disloyalty and disrespect. Knesset member (MK) David Totem (Yisrael Beiteinu), who chairs the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee and, is also a member of the Judge Selection Committee, announced that he plans to approach Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman on Wednesday and demand that he fire Justice Jubran.  An angry MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) charged that for a person of such stature as Justice Jubran to exhibit such disrespect for the State diminishes the stature of the Supreme Court.

MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) also condemned Jubran’s action and announced that on Wednesday he will submit a bill known as the Jubran Bill, which will stipulate that a person who did not serve his country, either in the IDF or through national or civil service, will not be permitted to serve as a judge in the Supreme Court and, if already appointed, will not be allowed to serve as its president or vice president. “Every Israeli citizen is committed to the anthem, and certainly those who hold senior state positions,” said Ben-Ari. “The fact that Jubran did not hesitate to degrade the state ceremony of the changing of the presidents is like spitting in the face of Israel. There are citizens who demand rights and government positions, but who scorn their national obligations with insolence and arrogance. This situation endangers the existence of the state and must be eradicated.” Ben-Ari added, “Whoever does not like the national anthem should find a country with a suitable anthem and go there. I, for one, promise not to beg that person to remain here.”

Arab and Leftist MK’s responded immediately.  MK Ahmed Tibi, a Deputy Knesset Speaker and leader of the Ra'am-Ta'al (Arab list) called MK's Ben Ari and Rotem "fascist" for demanding that Jubran sing the national anthem. Tibi stated that Jubran’s not having sung the national anthem is like earning a "badge of honor.' He added, "A Jew that demands from an Arab to sing HaTikvah (The Hope - Israel’s national anthem) is crazy."

In 1993, after the signing of the Oslo Accords, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat appointed Tibi (who was born in Taibe, Israel and received his trained as a medical doctor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem), special advisor for the peace process and Israeli matters. Tibi represented the PLO in dealing with Israel, and when Arafat entered Gaza, Tibi insisted that the rest of the PLO leadership be let into Gaza as well.

Arab MKs have, since the mid-1980’s exhibited hostile and provocative speech however, with the entry into Israeli politics of Ahmed Tibi and another contentious member, Dr. Azmi Bishara a new level of temerity was achieved.  Speeches by Israeli ministers were more routinely interrupted by the Arab MKs, who made a habit of shouting "murderer" and other epithets at them.

In 2002, the Knesset passed a law making it illegal for Knesset members to visit enemy countries without special permission from the government. In spite of the law Tibi and other Arab Knesset members have made a habit of routinely visiting enemy Arab countries. Another vocal Arab MK, Dr. Azmi Bishara, fled Israel in 2007, following questioning by the Israeli police on suspicion of his having given information to Hezbollah regarding preferred sites for missile attacks during the Second Lebanon War.  Tibi has, however, been careful not to be caught in such flagrantly seditious actions. However, in 2005, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz instructed the police to launch a criminal investigation following a trip Tibi took to Lebanon - without a permit - in May of 2004.

On January 11, 2007 Tibi participated in a large gathering in Ramallah which marked the 42nd year of the founding of Fatah.  Tibi called upon Fatah's terrorists to continue their struggle against Israel , "Until all of the Palestinian land is freed."  And, he used the occasion to accuse Israel of murdering Arab babies saying, "They want to eliminate the Palestinian children, the women and the elderly, en route to the elimination of the ideas of Palestinian freedom and liberty.”  In September 2011, Tibi served as a member of the Palestinian Authority's UN delegation, led by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, during which it submitted its request for UN acceptance of “Palestine “as a full member state.

It was during the Second Lebanon War in 2006 that the Arab-Israeli leadership lost all restraints regarding their hostility to the Jewish State. Many Israeli-Jews who had hoped that the improved socio-economic conditions of Israeli-Arabs (whose lifestyles are far better than that of other Arabs throughout the Middle East), would help to insure their loyalty to the State.  The lessons of this war included the realization by Israeli-Jews that what the Israeli-Arabs wanted was the destruction of the Jewish character of Israel. A poll conducted by Haifa University on March 18, 2007, and reported in the left-leaning Ha’aretz newspaper, indicated that 48 percent of Arab-Israelis believed that Hezbollah's rocket attacks on towns in northern Israel during that war were justified, even though numerous Arabs were killed and wounded in those attacks. The poll also showed that 28 percent of Israeli-Arabs did not believe the Holocaust happened and, among high school and college graduates, the figure was even higher – at 33%.  89 percent said they viewed Israel’s bombing of Lebanon as a war crime.

Sami Smoocha, the Haifa University sociologist who conducted the survey said that "One would have expected more pro-Israeli results among Israeli-Arabs due to the uniqueness of the most recent war: a war with no involvement of the Palestinians, a war in which the lives and belongings of Israelis were endangered, a war against an Islamic fundamentalist group that most of them don't support.” Ahmed Tibi response to the results of the poll by saying that “usually there is no empathy for the aggressor,” which Tibi said was Israel.”

In May 2007, the Mossawa Center - an Arab-Israeli advocacy group - published a document that demanded changes to Israel’s national symbols including the national anthem – HaTikvah. An earlier December 2006 document by the National Committee for the Heads of Arab Local Authorities in Israel, characterized Israel as being a country with no right to exist. Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, calls for a bi-national state and multiculturalism in Israel in its document titled “The Democratic Constitution.”  Adalah demands that Israel recognize the injustice suffered by the Palestinian people and recognize the right of the Palestinian refugees based on UN Resolution 194.

Israeli-Arab leadership figures including Justice Jubran and MK Ahmed Tibi do not wish to live under Hamas or Palestinian Authority control.  Yet, they have not reconciled themselves to the idea that Israel is the homeland of the Jews.  Conversely, Jews as a minority have always recognized and shown loyalty to those states and/or countries in which they lived, and to its symbols. 

The Israeli-Arabs must come to the realization that a Jewish state will be defended by the Jewish majority and therefore they must either join a future Palestinian State or accept a Jewish State and its symbols. While the State of Israel does not compel Arabs to serve in Israel Defense Forces, loyalty to the State of Israel is a requirement that must not be overlooked.

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