The Radicalization of Israeli Arabs

(BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University) Prof. Efraim Karsh - The May 2021 riots by Israeli Arabs, like their October 2000 precursor, were not an act of social protest but a nationalist/Islamist insurrection in support of an external attack. It was not socioeconomic grievances that drove the Israeli Arabs to wreak wanton violence on their Jewish compatriots but the growing radicalization attending the decades-long betterment of their socioeconomic condition. The more prosperous, affluent, better educated, and politically aware they became, the greater their leadership's incitement against their state of citizenship. Of course, many Israeli Arabs would be content to get on with their lives and take advantage of the freedoms and opportunities afforded by Israel, no matter how much they might resent their minority status in a Jewish state. Yet from the onset of the Arab-Israeli conflict a century ago, Palestinian Arab society has always comprised militant segments sufficiently large to allow its perennially extremist leadership to sway the silent majority into repeated disasters. Israel's Arab leaders used their constituents' vast socioeconomic progress over the past decades as a vehicle of radicalization rather than moderation. The writer, Professor Emeritus of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King's College London, is Director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.

2021-08-12 00:00:00

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