Sunday, September 10, 2006

Many Israelis complain about a lack of leadership. Among the country's Arab citizens that lack appears to be even more manifest than for the rest of the population. Several of 'their' Knesset members - of course many Arab Israelis do not vote, or they vote for any other party than Bala"d ( National Democratic Assembly ), Ra'am-Ta'al or Hadash ( associated with the Israeli Communist Party, with a significant Arab constituency ) - often try to polarize and politicize situations that threaten co-existence. An example of this was the incident in the Church of the Annunciation in March this year, when some Arab MKs tried to put religious-ethnic-political oil on the flames caused by what turned out to be not much more than a sad family tragedy. Now Azmi Bishara and the two other faction members of Bala"d are visiting Syria. That in itself is already questionable but not new, it is not the first visit by Bishara or other Arab Mks. What is really troubling is the fact that Mr Bishara expressed support for Syria, calling himself ( according to the media here ) an ally of the country whose leadership is directly responsible for the last Lebanon war ( in which more than a hundred Israeli soldiers and tens of civilians - Arabs, Jews and others - were killed ). This is completely different from the visits by Arab MKs to representatives of the political wing of Hamas months ago. I am afraid I have to agree with MK Zevulun Orlev and others who appealed to the State Attorney to see if steps can be taken against these parliamentarians. Alternative ways towards finding peace with the Palestinians and other neighbors can and should be explored, but there is a difference between being an MK who chooses not to be a Zionist and one who shows complete disloyalty to the state. Israel's Arabs deserve a much better treatment by that state, but above all they deserve better leaders. PS: As could be expected Mr Bishara welcomes the investigation against him and his two colleagues. Such an investigation and possible legal procedures against him will give Mr Bishara another opportunity to 'expose' the ways in which Israel discriminates against him and other Arabs. Never mind that this is not a case of discrimination but of utter disloyalty, if not outright treason. It is a shame that instead of fighting against true cases of discrimination - of which many Arab Israelis suffer - and of trying to really improve the conditions of his constituency ( something that should be but unfortunately is not a priority for any of the major parties ) Mr Bishara prefers to create controversies which he knows other - Zionist - parliamentarians will and can not let pass quietly, so that he can score some more political and polarizing points.

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