Saturday, June 5, 2010

Arab Israeli Representatives: Representing WHO?


by Khaled Abu Toameh

Some representatives of the Arab citizens of Israel have obviously forgotten that they were elected to the Knesset to serve the interests of their voters in the Galilee, Triangle and the Negev and not those of Hamas, Hizbullah Iran and Libya.

One often gets the impression that some of the Arab Knesset members are too busy dealing with the problems of Hamas and the Fatah than with those facing their constituents. By doing so, they are actually shooting themselves in the foot and harming the interests of their people.

Of course the Arab Knesset members have every right to express their opinions on any regional and international issue they wish. They have the right, for instance, to call for lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip or for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

They even have the right to voice their views on the issue of the Iranian nuclear threat and the growing tensions between Hizbullah and Syria on the one hand, and Israel on the other.

But these elected parliamentarians need to know when they should not be crossing red lines.

Earlier this year, a large delegation of Israeli Arabs was invited to Libya for talks with Col. Muammar Qaddafi. It was the first visit of its kind to Libya by Israeli citizens.

Not surprisingly, Qaddafi sought to exploit the high-profile visit to improve his reputation and image in international public opinion. The Israeli Arabs, on the other hand, had nothing to gain from the trip to Tripoli.

It would have been better had the same delegation members traveled to Jerusalem for talks with government officials about ways the problems and needs of the Arab minority.

Qaddafi is certainly not the address for solving these problems. Qaddafi is not going to build infrastructure in the Arab sector inside Israel. Nor is he going to solve the problem of unemployment among the Arab community.

Qaddafi cares only about the welfare of Qaddafi and his autocratic regime.

Similarly, there is nothing wrong with an Arab Knesset members who wants to campaign against the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

However, it is hard to understand how joining the Gaza-bound aid convoy of ships advances the cause of Israel's Arab citizens.

If the Israeli Arabs on board the ships were campaigning for their constituents' rights with the same determination and force, the Arab citizens would be in a better situation.

Israeli Arabs who are aligning themselves with anti-Israel organizations and individuals are in fact causing huge damage to the cause of the Arab minority. They are first and foremost playing into the hands of those Israeli Jews who have long been shouting that the 1.4 million Arab citizens are nothing but a "fifth column" and a "cancer" inside the Jewish state.

The leaders of the Arab community in Israel need to be watch their actions and words to avoid causing further damage to their constituents. It would be more useful if they devoted their energies to improving the living conditions of the their citizens instead of working toward widening the gap between Arabs and Jews.


Khaled Abu Toameh

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


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