Farah warns that failing to tackle the spiral of violence will have ramifications for the whole country
The government has succeeded in channeling the Arab citizens’ frustrations at the mayors of the Arab towns. Once again last night, shots were fired at an Arab mayor, this time in Sakhnin, at Dr. Safwat Abu Raya. Almost ten Arab mayors have been the target of threats, shots and violence. They have become the target of every frustrated person who is seeking a job, a position or a tailored tender.
The Netanyahu government has privatized the state. It shifted responsibility for welfare, education, employment, environment and housing onto the local authorities.
The mayors of the Arab local authorities have become the punching bag for all those who live beneath the poverty line, which is 47% of the Arab citizens. The non-profit organizations are being asked to replace the government, which hasn’t authorized the construction of an industrial zone even in a city like Umm el-Fahm. The mayors who were elected to “change the situation” discovered that they did not have the tools to do so. The poverty, the unemployment, the housing problems became a burden for them. They promised mountains. In reality, the government controls planning, budgets and national-economic priorities, poverty and employment.
Arab society has lost more than 90 of its members in extremely violent incidents since the beginning of 2019. This is a small civil war. Petty disagreements become mass brawls. Facebook has become an arena for defamation from which marginalized young people with no professions and no hope take to the streets. Businesses that are opened must pay protection money to crime organizations and with no banking or funding system, the black market has become a mortgage bank.
A similar situation was created in the Palestinian Authority in the years 2002-2005. The instability, the absence of the rule of law, and the prevailing violence caused many to demand security coordination even with the GSS. The crisis and the violence have prompted the Joint List and the mayors to demonstrate outside the police headquarters with the demand that it deploys larger numbers of police troops. But the real solution lies in the hands of three agencies: 1) The GSS, which views the crisis as a means of controlling the Arabs; 2) The Netanyahu government, which views the Arabs as the enemy; and 3) In the hands of the Arabs themselves, who have not yet stopped playing by the rules and have not yet overturned tables. Once they do this, the Jewish population will have no choice but to wake up and ensure that the rule of law is implemented.
The small civil war in the country’s backyard has the potential to break into the house: the price in blood will have an economic price for the state and its structures. At the current stage of things, this price has not yet prompted the state’s leaders to wake up. What is certain is that the use of the weapons in the Arab towns against the state’s authorities is liable to precipitate a crisis that will be impossible to control. Netanyahu thinks that he will clip a political coupon from the Arabs’ crisis. In the end, we will all pay the price in blood that today only the Arabs are paying. Facing this reality, Arab mayors could place the keys in the prime minister’s hands, and he will become the target of the anger over the unemployment, over the housing shortage and the sewage that flows in the streets instead.
Originally published in Hebrew on Ma’ariv, 15 December 2019. For the Hebrew version, click on the following link: https://www.maariv.co.il/journalists/opinions/Article-735261