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Monday, April 07, 2008

The blue and white mosque

From JTA:
Residents of an Israeli-Arab village painted their mosque blue and white in honor of the Jewish state's 60th anniversary.

Breaking with many Israeli Arabs who have declared they will boycott next month's celebrations, residents of A-Taibe in the Gilboa region have painted the dome of their mosque in the national colors.

"We are citizens of the State of Israel," village elder Hisham Zouabi, explained to the daily newspaper Ma'ariv. "For us religion encourages us to bring nations together. The goal is simple: coexistence. A Jew who comes here should not feel that the place is hostile but like home."

A-Taibe has approximately 2,000 residents and reports excellent relations with nearby Jewish communities.

There are some 100, mostly Arab, organizations that have publicly said that they would boycott Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations. Most of them appear to have more words in their names than members.

What would they consider an Arab village in Israel that is proud to be a part of Israel? Are they traitors? "Collaborators"? Deserving of death? Because that is generally the message that these Arab organizations give to their people, where the highest insult is to call someone a "collaborator" with the Jews.

It has been that way for many decades, from pre-state days, that a sizable minority of Arabs were not only willing to work together with the Jews but felt that the Jewish return to the Land of Israel would be a blessing for them. And for those who felt that way, for the most part, it was.

But those voices have been drowned out by the Arabs who consider those people traitors, the ones who have no desire for coexistence or peace as long as it involves Jews holding any positions of power. And the entire Arab nation has suffered as a result of this intransigence and bigotry.

And even today, those who choose to truly work together with Israel are the Arabs who are the envy of their brethren, even if they won't admit it.