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Lapid, Reach Out to Arabs in Israel

Uri Misgav
Uri Misgav
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Election ad featuring Yair Lapid in Rahat, the largest Arab city in Israel's Negev region.
Election ad featuring Yair Lapid in Rahat, the largest Arab city in Israel's Negev region.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Uri Misgav
Uri Misgav

Terror struck the cities of Israel again. In Umm al-Fahm, terrorists assassinated journalist Nidal Agbaria, and in Lod the murderers did not spare Manar Abu Hajaj and her 14-year-old daughter Hadra. Her twin sister Maryam was injured in the shooting and escaped. Now the authorities plan to move her to a safe house. The victims were of course innocent, for that is the way of terrorism – to inflict terror and death upon a civilian population. Not only is a sovereign state entitled to defend itself by any means possible from murderous terrorism, but it is also its duty to its citizens.

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This is beyond the ability of the regular police force, certainly after its weakening by the defendant Benjamin Netanyahu. Therefore, the right thing to do would have been to immediately deploy the Shin Bet security service and the Police and Border Police’s undercover units. That is what would happen, too, if the terrorists had taken out a journalist in Hadera and a mother and her daughters in Rishon Letzion. Counterterrorism, arresting terrorists, and neutralizing ticking bombs are among the Shin Bet’s core tasks.

But then the Joint List’s politicians would have jumped up and cried out that we are back to the days of martial law and the October riots, and Haaretz columnists would have yelled about “lack of proportionality,” “excessive measures,” and “over-policing.” Trust me. Odeh Bisharat wondered here this year if the increase in murders in the Arab community isn’t a deliberate policy of the Bennett-Lapid government. Hanin Majadli explains how Jews are to blame for everything that happens to Arabs, and never turns so much as half a critical glance inward, and Sheren Falah Saab argued that “Arab lives aren’t really important in Israel,” and that the criminality “won’t be solved by increased enforcement.” In the same breath, of course, she complained of a lack of enforcement and a low rate of murders solved.

Obviously, one of the deep causes of the rise in crime is neglect and discrimination. Poverty, unemployment, poor education and idleness will always lead young men to violence (other aspects contributing to a murderous culture can’t be discussed in the P.C. cult anyway.) Therefore, enforcement is always the bandage and not the source of the infection, although contrary to the current fashion among the self-righteous loonies, it mustn’t be dismissed. Enforcing law and order is the duty of a functioning sovereignty, the core pact between state and citizens, and it also imparts a salutary deterrent and educational message. So how do we treat long-term neglect and discrimination?

Through politics, of course. But see what happened when, for the first time in the country’s history, a pro-integration Arab party joined the coalition. Vast budgets were directed toward the Arab public, and a comprehensive plan for combatting the criminal organizations and collecting the weapons was deployed by the Public Security Minister, with close management by his deputy. And how did the representatives of Hadash and the purist left in Haaretz react? By viciously castigating the United Arab List and Meretz and the entire government, and concurrently the leaders of the Joint List joined with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and far-right legislator Itamar Ben-Gvir to kill the brave attempt. “The Bennett government is worse than the Netanyahu government,” Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh announced, and on another occasion he explained: “We wish to end the road of this bad government.” Now they have the nerve to complain about being “disqualified” from membership in a future coalition, and look with bemusement at the Arab voting rate, as it drops to a historical nadir.

The truth is that a significant portion of the Arabs care more about Tira than Tantura, and about Ramle more than Ramallah. Ofer Cassif and Sami Abu Shehadeh don’t represent them. The criminal terrorism is their hell. These are decent Israelis, who first of all want to live and make a dignified living, and then take their place in the country, in all its complexities, with heads held high. This is their homeland. It is time for the prime minister and party leader, Yair Lapid, to come to them himself, and invite them in, invite them home. The criminal organizations must be smashed by any legal means possible. The Arab voters must be offered another place to turn.

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