blog_rights_and_accountability-Ismael-Mohamad-UPI.jpg

(Ismael Mohamad / United Press International)

Palestinian Christians “not really Arabs,” says senior Israeli lawmaker

yariv_levin.jpg

Yariv Levin (Wikipedia)

A senior Israeli government lawmaker proposes to give Palestinian citizens of Israel who are Christian special privileges in order to set them against their Muslims compatriots.

“My legislation will grant separate representation and treatment for the Christian public, which will be separated from the Muslim Arabs,” says Yariv Levin, the leader of the government coalition in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.

“Not Arabs”

Levin’s comments were reported on 8 January by NRG, the Hebrew-language website of the newspaper Maariv.

“This is an important historical move that could balance the State of Israel and connect us and the Christians, and I am careful not to call them Arabs, because they are not Arabs,” Levin adds.

Levin is a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Yisrael Beitenu faction.

Divide and rule

There are 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, survivors of the 1948 ethnic cleansing and their descendants who remained in what became present-day Israel.

While legally citizens who have the right to vote, they face dozens of laws and de facto practices that discriminate against them for not being Jews.

They have also been targeted by systematic divide-and-rule policies aimed at destroying community solidarity and giving them separate identities such as Druze, Christian, Bedouin and Muslim.

“The state has tried to brainwash us for over sixty years by telling us that we are not Arabs, that Muslims and Arabs want to kill us,” Wadah al-Qasim, a Druze Palestinian who has been jailed for refusing to join the Israeli army, recently told The Electronic Intifada’s Patrick O. Strickland.

As Druze resist army service, Israel has attempted to co-opt and pressure Christians into joining the army, a plan that many see as an attempt to incite Muslim-Christian tensions.

“Natural allies”

Levin’s odious proposal continues Israel’s divisive colonial practice.

“We have a lot in common with the Christians,” he says.

“They are our natural allies, a counterweight to the Muslims who want to destroy the state from the inside. The Christians are also concerned about extreme Islam, which excludes them. If we know how to give select, appropriate treatment to this population, they’ll also join up with the [Israeli army].”

In effect, Levin wants to give Christians a sort of honorary Jewish status in a state where only Jews enjoy full rights.

Privileges and “benefits”

“According to one of the laws Levin is initiating, the Christian Arabs will be able to register themselves as merely ‘Christians’ under the nationality heading on their ID cards, to make an official distinction between them and the Muslims,” NRG reports.

They will also receive a series of benefits: “The Christians will be able to be directors of government corporations, they will receive separate representation in the local authorities and receive equal opportunities at work,” Levin said.

“The first law I will pass is representation for Christians in the advisory committee for the Equal Opportunities in Employment Commission.”

Levin’s unapologetically racist proposals are a clear admission that currently Palestinian citizens of Israel face numerous racial bars; he proposes only to selectively lift them for Christians.

His proposal for “separate representation” smacks of the separate parliaments for “Coloreds” and “Indians” that the South African apartheid regime set up in its dying days in a similar attempt to co-opt, divide and weaken resistance to its racist rule.

Prelude to expulsion of “Muslims”?

The timing of Levin’s proposals is linked to the uproar over Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s plan to strip Palestinian citizens of Israel and transfer them to a putative Palestinian state.

Although Levin opposes any sort of Palestinian state, he claims that Palestinian citizens’ rejection of Lieberman’s proposal nonetheless “exposed the duplicity of the Muslim Arabs who live in the country.”

“On one hand they attack the terrible State of Israel, and yearn for the Palestinian state,” he says.

“On the other hand they do not want to live in the Palestinian state and send the Palestinians of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] to go live there. It’s a disgrace.”

Iron fist

But while special, ethnoreligiously based privileges would be the carrot to entice Christians, Levin also wields a stick.

“On the other hand, we will apply an iron fist and zero tolerance towards Arabs who tend to identify with the terrorism of the Palestinian state,” Levin adds.

“We will make it clear to them that being an Israeli citizen is a right that cannot be taken for granted. Anyone who yanks the chain will find that the chain tears, remains hanging in the air, in a place that is unpleasant to be in.”

Levin’s racism and thuggery, it must be stressed, is not the voice of a marginal figure. As coalition leader in the Knesset, he is responsible for steering the government’s legislative program.

With thanks to Dena Shunra for translation.

Comments

"The Christians of Palestine are not Arabs" Oh! What are they then? Don’t mix religion and nationality.
It’s certain that Christians are neither Muslims nor Jews! Being Arab is, apart from being part of the Arab community, first be a resident of an Arab land. If a Christian or a Muslim or a Jew is living in Palestine or Syria or Iraq, he’s an Arab Christian, an Arab Muslim or an Arab Jew. If he comes from elsewhere (France, USA, and England) and he is a foreigner in Palestine because he doesn’t have the Palestinian nationality, then is he a French Christian, or an American Muslim or an English Jew. Of course a Christian in Turkey isn’t an Arab, nor a Muslim from Afghanistan, nor a Jew from Iran.

Well, I think your explanation isn't much better.
"If a Christian or a Muslim or a Jew is living in Palestine, Syria or Iraq, he's an Arab Christian, an Arab Muslim or an Arab Jew"
Being an Arab is having Arabic as your mother tongue. Millions of people in Syria and Iraq are non-Arabs: Kurds for instance. And there is an Arab minority in Turkey on the Syrian border. Some of them might be Christians.
So your 'nationality' is in the sense 'ethnicity'.

Thanks to Hadassah for her explanations. Mr Levin is the first who needs to read them. I believe that Arab Christians prefer also to mention their nationality as, for example, in "Lebanese Christian" or "Syrian Christian"). Rifat Kassis, whose family is one of the "living stones" of Palestinian Christians in the occupied territories, writes in his book "Kairos for Palestine" : "My great-great-grandfather settled in Beit Sahour in the year 1630, travelling from Sade Mousa (Petra) in present-day Jordan which, far back in history, belonged to the Christian Ghassanid Kingdom. His name was David. ... I am the tenth generation since David. ...The history of our region is a history of wars, of people's movements ... today I define myself as an Arab Palestinian Christian." (pages 14-15)

It matters not, to me, what religion law breakers profess to follow; oppression, apartheid, occupation, theft of land, destruction of property, denial of Human Rights, murder, all of these are criminal acts deserving International sanction and punishment. And especially to those already condemned by the U.N. for the crime of genocide. Pure hypocrisy in the case of Palestinians.
Religion is irrelevant; these criminal acts originate in the decisions and actions of the Israeli and American Governments.
World opinion is near unanimous on this point; Israel and the U.S.A. is criminally culpable in the occupation and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian Peoples from the land which is their birthright. I call upon members of the United Nations Security Council together with The General Assembly, to re-affirm the many past resolutions condemning Israel, and to institute lawful effective procedures, by force if necessary, to remove all settlers from land internationally recognised as the State of Palestine.
Such action would help restore the U.N.’s ethical and moral reason to exist, and remind all members to read again their responsibilities to the Founding Charter. The Palestinian question is deserving of resolution, not just lip-service.
Further, that the United Nations creates a peace keeping force to stay with Palestine until Palestine is peacefully established,
regards. THOMAS W. ADAMS.

Of course we can deepen or detail the issue. Perhaps it would be more exact to speak of citizenship. Concerning the Kurds, they are in fact an ethnic group, and they aren’t Arabs or Turks. They form a State within States; these Kurds are then Arab citizens when they live in Arab countries.

There is also the Arab way of seeing the "Arab nation", ie the "Arab nation" (encompassing all faiths and religions) is above States.

Language: it is not because I know that I am the Arab an Arab in Belgium.

Concerning the Jewish People who’s a nation, he may be landless if it’s necessary, like nowadays since the destruction of the Second Temple until when Moshiach comes. This means that in Judaism there is no Jewish State, we, the Jewish People, are by Divine Decree, dispersed to the four corners of the world, and this is on this way we accomplish the commandments of the Torah . Those, the Jews who denied the ancestral faith and converted to Zionism, who violate this Decree are a rebellion against God and the Torah.
In addition, these Zionists who are an expansionist political movement and not a religion, nor an ethnic group, nor the Jewish people, they are a source of conflict in the region and everywhere in the world where they receive access.

In any case, to be fair, we can only recognize the sovereign nations; what excludes the illegal Zionist entity in Arab Palestine. Unfortunately, don’t expect much from the UN. Only a third Intifada will end this illegal occupation and this hell.

The article mentions Israel laws that discriminate against non-jewish citizens. I'm looking for a list and discription of these laws. If someone has such a list or a linke to a book, article or publication that enumerates them, can they please forward to me?

Thanks.

http://adalah.org/eng/Israeli-...
And ACRI's website (no specific list but still useful):
www.acri.org.il/en/category/ar...