The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel
The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel has stirred quite a racket over the last few week, though perhaps not enough. In case you haven’t heard about it, the Mossawa centre says it is:
Published by the National Committee for the Heads of the Arab Local Authorities in Israel, this paper aims to define a future collective vision of the Palestinian Arab citizens in Israel, focusing on legal status, economic and social development, land and housing and educational and cultural visions.
Not too surprisingly, it includes more than a few controversial statements, many of which appear to be aimed a political and cultural autonomy for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and some which were perceived by the Jewish population as challenging the fundamentals of the state.
The text puts forward a position about a possible future of the state of Israel. I have not studied it in enough detail to comment, and I am looking forward to hear more on other people’s perspective. I think the meta-text here is more important than the text itself.
The meta-text is that there is a dialogue between Jews and Arabs regrading the possible futures of the state of Israel. This dialogue is an existential necessity for both groups. The unique contribution of the vision document is in placing this dialogue in legitimate public channels. The exchange of blows of 2000 has been replaced by an exchange of words. While these words are not always pleasant, and not always productive, it is imperative that we maintain the dialogue in this medium.
From reading a bit of the document and a bit of the debate around it, I get a sense that there is sometimes a confusion between dialogue and negotiations. Dialogue seeks understanding, negotiation seeks compromise. In dialogue sincerity is paramount. In negotiation it is subject to strategy. Some of the declarations made in the context of the current debate carry an undertone of an over-radicalised initial stance for bargaining. While this is useful (and expected) in negotiations it is counter-productive in dialogue.
I see the role of concerned people in the diasporas (Jewish and Palestinian) not at the text level, but in supporting the meta-text. I believe we should try to refrain from taking any stance regarding the document itself, and focus on supporting the process of civil dialogue.
In short, the issue is not what the document says, but the fact that the future of the state of Israel can only be shaped by democratic, inclusive, and honest civil dialogue within the state of Israel. Our role, as people outside Israel who care for its future, is to support this dialogue.