Friday, October 07, 2005

Political views from Haifa

I spent yesterday in Haifa with work colleagues, Hamad and his wife; they had me over for futoor. On offer was an amazing spread of food and a television; I haven't had much of either since my arrival to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories last month, so I made sure to take multiple helpings of both.

Hamad was talking about how he interpreted being Palestinian Arab in Israel:
- Either you can go along with the crowd and voluntarily shed your Arab identity; this of course makes things easier for you in dealings with the police, the government and society in general.
- Or you can hold strong to your Arab identity and deal with its repercussions.

Hamad was about the latter, and for him that meant not voting in Knesset (the Israeli parliament) elections, even if Arab MKs (Members of the Knesset) were running. He felt it selling out; and a lot of people do... playing by Israel's rules is selling out to Israel.

Others, like 25 year old Yamen Al-Hijri, don't agree. Active in politics and an engineer by profession, he calls for his people to be smart. He stresses the importance of working with both options at hand - Arab and Israeli. He votes in the Knesset for Arab MKs and wishes that more would do the same. He also believes in an Arab Parliament being constructed within Israel so that issues tackling the Arab population are given focus.

He says that today Arab Palestinians make up 20% of the population so that they can't really afford not to play by the rules. However, once the dynamics change and the Palestinian population within Israel and the Territories is in the majority (2020 by some estimates), then the Palestinians will be in a better position to shape Israeli politics and see real change within their community.
Political views from Hamad's balcony
(overlooking the Mediterranean)


Anonymous said...

interesting views


Nasrawi said...

Definitely; there's no general consensus among the Arab Palestinian minority about how involved they should be in Israeli (Jewish) policy - economic, social, cultural, linguistic and political.

Equally varied are Palestinian views on Israel's international relations i.e. whether other countries should recognise and engage in dealings with them. In relation to this subject, look out for posts on Bahrain and Qatar.