Bishara brings the Israeli Arabs’ worst nightmare closer

Arab Knesset member Azmi Bishara, about whom I’ve written before (also here) has been accused of spying for Hezbollah during the war:

In one of the most grievous cases of espionage in Israeli history, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) revealed Wednesday that former Balad chairman Azmi Bishara was under investigation for allegedly spying on behalf of Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War by providing the guerrilla group with targets for their rockets as well as classified military information.

According to the allegations against Bishara, the former MK transferred to Hizbullah information, predictions, assessments and recommendations about the political echelon, the IDF and the Israeli public during the Second Lebanon War. — Jerusalem Post

In addition, Bishara is accused of “being in contact with intelligence operatives of other countries”, and of having “received detailed missions from Hizbullah which he carried out”. He is alleged to have received hundreds of thousands of dollars for his activities; security sources decline to release the name of the country in which the money originated.

There is opposition, there is disloyalty, and there is treason. Bishara is accused of the latter, and if found guilty, he could be given the death penalty. He was questioned by the police on March 22-23, and was allowed to leave the country for several days as he requested “because of his parliamentary immunity”. In my opinion it was felt that the consequences of arresting and trying Bishara would be worse than letting him go.

This is one of the worst things that could happen to the relationship between the Jewish State and its Arab citizens. There has always been tension, usually expressed as a desire for equal treatment of Jews and Arabs in matters of law, public works, state benefits, etc. In recent years more and more Israeli Arabs have come to feel that their status as a minority in a Jewish state is itself a denial of basic rights. This nationalistic feeling has expressed itself in various ways, from a desire to change the nature of the state from a Jewish state to a “state of its citizens”, all the way to identification with Israel’s enemies.

If Bishara has indeed done what he’s accused of, then he’s struck a blow against the idea that Israel can be a democracy in which Jews and Arabs, despite the overall conflict in the region, can live and work together.

Many Israeli Arabs believe that the issue is a frame-up to justify expulsion or other actions against them:

“Perhaps in the short term the Jews will not pay attention to the Bishara affair due to the Winograd report, but in the long term this will affect relations,” said Professor Aziz Haidar of the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute…

Prof Haidar said a mass deportation of Israel’s Arab citizens is not out of the question. “The Jewish public is prepared to accept any act against the Arab population; therefore, the Arabs are discussing the possibility of a second Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic – refers to the flight of Palestinian Arabs during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war).

“In a situation of chaos and war in the Middle East, Israel will use all means possible to repeat what happened in 1948. If, God forbid, another war breaks out, the chances would increase that Israel would expel thousands of Arabs from their homes to ‘diminish the demographic threat’,” he said. — YNet

Nobody in Israel except the extreme right wing has yet seriously suggested that Arab citizens should be deported. Even suggestions that they could be paid or otherwise compensated to move to the Palestinian state or elsewhere have been considered extremist by the majority of Israelis.

Sometimes a person acts in such a way as to make his own nightmare a reality, like the excessively jealous husband who drives his wife into the arms of another. If the political consciousness among the Israeli Arabs becomes primarily one of Palestinian nationalism, and if this finds expression in actions like the ones of which Azmi Bishara is accused, then the realization of their worst nightmare, a second nakba, becomes imaginable.

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