How did it come to pass that Yassra Bakri, a 20-year-old Israeli Arab nursing student at Safed College, and her girlfriend, Samiya Asedi, another Israeli Arab student, said nothing for 20 minutes about the presence of a mass murderer on a No. 361 Egged bus this past Sunday morning?
And how is it that the murderer was certain that he could tip Bakri off to his plan to blow up the bus and not worry that she would call the police during the 20 minutes that elapsed between his warning to her and his detonation of his bomb?
And how is it possible that MK Muhammad Barakei reacted Wednesday to Interior Minister Eli Yishai's decision to revoke the citizenship of three Israeli Arabs who have joined the ranks of Israel's enemies by committing terrorist attacks against Israel, by saying that he and the Israeli Arab community would launch their opposition to the legal move in international bodies?
Following last Wednesday's massacre at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the somewhat embarrassed gut reaction of many students was to murmur that Israeli Arab students at the university may have assisted the terrorists in bringing their bomb onto the campus.
Shmuel Mattityahu, a graduating economics major, explains that the suspicion arose naturally, because over the course of his studies he, like many other students, has witnessed a frightening radicalization among their Arab classmates. At the core of this radicalization, in his mind, lies a total rejection of Israel's right to exist.
"The Arab students have boycotted elections to the Student Union. They formed their own Arab Student Union and as a group neither run for election nor vote in the regular elections," he explains.
In the academic years of 2000 and 2001, hundreds of Arab students demonstrated at the Frank Sinatra International Student Center on May 15 the secular date of Israel's founding with black flags.
Waving their black flags and wearing black T-shirts, they chanted in Arabic, "With blood and fire we will liberate you, Palestine." Among their many flyers and signs were maps of Israel with the names of pre-1948 Arab villages. The names of Jewish towns and villages were not on the map.
"In April 2000," Mattityahu recalls, "six months before the October 2000 riots, the Arab students organized violent clashes with police. Several students were injured and many were arrested. When the 2001 school year began, the Arab students distributed student organizers with Muhammad Dura's picture on the cover. (Dura was the Palestinian boy who was killed in the cross-fire between soldiers and PA forces in Gaza in October 2000 and quickly became an international symbol of the Palestinian terrorist war against Israel.)
In November 2001, the Arab students demonstrated at Frank Sinatra with extreme leftist groups. To their "blood and fire" chant they added, "Barak is a murderer, the intifada will be victorious."
Mattityahu explains, "The Arabs speak with one voice, and act in another. They say they are championing equal rights, but what they are actually calling for is political autonomy based on a rejection of the state. While calling for equal rights, they distribute literature in Arabic calling for the establishment of Arab autonomy in Galilee."
Mattityahu believes that the Arab students at the Hebrew University are not exceptional, but rather reflect the sentiments of Israeli Arabs generally. "The irredentism of the students is not unique to them. They are following the same worrisome trend of Arab Israelis generally. It involves complete rejection of Israel and unstinting support for the Palestinians as called for by their leaders."
Who is pushing this trend among Arab Israelis?
According to Moti Zaken, Internal Security Minister Uzi Landau's Arab affairs adviser, much of this extremist trend is the result of work by Arab non-governmental organizations that were founded over the last decade.
"During the 1990s, Israeli Arabs started setting up independent organizations because they felt, with some justification, that their needs were not being met through their traditional representatives in the Knesset and in the local authorities. But rather than limit themselves to working to improve the quality of life and equality of Arabs in Israel, they are working both here and abroad to uproot the foundations of Israel as a Jewish state."
One of the most active and most successful of these organizations is Adala, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. Adala, founded in 1996, was one of the primary forces that caused the Barak government to form the Or Commission of Inquiry into the rioting in the Israeli Arab sector in October 2000.
One of Adala's funding organizations is the New Israel Fund, which seeks through donations to civil society organizations in Israel to "promote equality and social justice for all Israelis."
Adala, however, is not interested in justice for all Israelis. According to its Web site, "The main goal of Adala's work is to achieve equal rights and minority rights protections for Palestinian citizens of Israel."
Through its court cases and advocacy work at the UN, Adala has systematically sought to receive recognition not for equal rights for Israeli Arabs, but rather extraordinary rights for them. At the same time, the group seeks to undermine the right of the Jewish people to self-determination by undercutting the laws and denying the morality of the state.
After forcing the Barak government to form the Or Commission at the end of 2000, Adala set out to prevent Israelis called to give account before the commission the most basic rights of the accused. Adala demanded, and the commission granted, permission to collect testimony from Israeli Arab witnesses independently and bring the edited material before the commission. Thus Adala, with the commission's assent, denied the Israeli police officers called before the commission the basic right of all defendants to confront their accusers.
When last month the Or Commission sent letters of warning to two Israeli Arab MKs and the head of the Israeli Islamic Movement stating that they could face punishment for their roles in inciting the riots, Adala petitioned the High Court of Justice demanding that the Or Commission's actions be limited to the "executive branch."
While the court rejected Adala's petition this week, Adala maintains that the court was wrong because the commission couldn't help but be "discriminatory."
In addition to its legal work in Israel, Adala has been one of the main engines behind the defamation of Israel and the equation of Zionism with racism at the UN. As Adala proudly reports on its Web site, since 1998, the organization has been submitting testimony to various UN bodies about the racist character of Israel. According to Adala, its 1998 report to the UN Commission for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination identified "20 laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel."
Among the laws Adala found objectionable are the Law of Return, which allows for free Jewish immigration to Israel, the law establishing the flag and the national anthem of Israel.
As Zaken, who represented Israel at the conference, recalls, "Adala was the chief accuser of Israel in Geneva. The entire body, chaired by the Egyptian representative, was completely hostile towards Israel. Adala mobilized this hostility to delegitimize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state."
So, too, at the UN World Conference on Racism last summer in Durban, South Africa, Adala was in at the ground floor preparing for the festival of anti-Semitism that Durban was to become.
In a report submitted to the Amman NGO
networking meeting for the UN World Conference Against Racism in February 2001, Adala claimed that in Israel, "Racism exists at almost every level of society."
At Durban itself, Adala was a central force in the NGO conference, where Israel was defined to be "a racist apartheid state in which Israel's brand of apartheid is a crime against humanity."
In Adala's activities in Israel and abroad, we see the line that connects between the terrorist on bus 361, Bakri and Assedi, the irredentism of Arab students at Mount Scopus, and MK Barakei's insulting threats against the minister of the interior and the State of Israel. At their core, in all of these actions, there is an acceptance of the notion that equality for Arabs in Israel can only come about with the destruction of Jewish nationalism. At the most basic level there lies an unabashed hostility and a total rejection of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination.
Many liberal Jews believe that by enabling groups like Adala to take on leadership roles in Israel, they are advancing the causes of equal rights and democracy in Israel for all of Israel's citizens. What we find however, is that through the actions of organizations like Adala, that are supported by liberal Jewish groups both here and abroad, the causes of democracy and equal rights not to mention good citizenship are impeded. Adala, in its actions before the Or Commission and the Supreme Court (where it is currently attempting to limit the state's discretion in prosecuting both ultra-Marxist MK Azmi Bishara and Raed Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement), is attempting to set legal norms where equality will not exist before the law. In Adala's view, since the state itself is illegitimate, Arabs who defy the laws should not be prosecuted.
The widespread legitimacy given to Adala's advocacy of the notion that Israel is a racist state whose very self-definition as a Jewish state is wrong, paves the way for monstrous behavior like that of Bakri and Assedi on the No. 361 bus. After all, if the goal is irredentism, what possible responsibility should they have toward citizens of the state that they are taught to consider illegitimate and racist?
Adala's international legitimacy also clears a path for statements like that of MK Barakei, an elected official of the State of Israel who clearly rejects the notion that Israel has a right to take action against traitors by saying that he will bring his case before the fair-minded international community.
In his decision this week to revoke the citizenship of three Israeli Arab terrorists, Yishai advanced another notion of equality and democracy. In this version, Yishai argues that equal rights of all citizens must be based upon a prior and minimal loyalty to that state. Perhaps this is a notion that Adala's Jewish supporters, who no doubt accept the Jewish people's right to self-determination, should mull over before signing their next checks.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.