By: Yaniv Sagee and Riad Kabaha, - July 2013
Following the demolition of the home in Wadi Ara, swelling feelings of anger are surging in the Arab sector. 13 years after the October Riots, Yaniv Sagee and Riad Kabaha wish to look back on the conclusions of the Or Committee- since in reality, nothing has really changed.
Until recently, a feeling of mutual connection and prosperity has prevailed in the area of Wadi Ara, Eron and Menashe in terms of the Jewish-Arab relationship and the construction of a shared society. Everything attested to that fact: the quiet atmosphere in the Wadi; the social relationships developing through the Givat Haviva's "Shared Communities" program; Jewish and Arab visitors the art gallery in Um El Fahem; the thriving "Bridge over the Wadi" Hand in Hand school; the prosperous trading markets in the villages of Barta'a; and Kfar Qara' and city of Baka el Garbiya; local factories of Gan Shmuel, Hadera and Pardes Hanna-Karkur which employ both Jewish and Arab workers and various other examples of civic achievements in the area.
The protest which took place last week
on Route 65 in Wadi Ara, following the demolition
of the Abu Sharqyee home.
Two weeks ago this social success was forcefully torn down in one crushing blow. The Israeli government decided to tear down the home of Abu Sharqyee which resides on the Barta'a Intersection -Wadi Ara main road (65.) The act of tearing down Abu Sharqyee's home broke a code of mutual understanding and agreement, keeping in mind the fact that the house was built in the year 1969. For 44 years a peaceful family resided in this house. They are educated and contributing members of society who helped develop Jewish-Arab relationships in the area, as well as in the country.
The protest which took place last week on Route 65 in Wadi Ara, following the demolition of the Abu Sharqyee home.
Tearing down the house sharpened the feelings of anger in the Arab community, which suffers property, land and housing problems with no apparent answer to their needs. If Abu Sharqyee's home was torn down after over 40 years, how will the other thousands of families who live in homes of the same statues? Is it not clear that here lies a message which generates fear and at the same time reveals feelings of discrimination and hatred by many Arab citizens towards the State of Israel? Abu Sharqyee's home was perceived as a symbol of resistance against the discriminatory demolition policy practiced by the government, therefore, tearing it down symbolizes the helplessness of the Arab population. It is a short way to the breaking point of the delicate and fragile structure in the mutual relationship between Arabs and Jews who live in the same area.
Settling the Issue of Land
Great frustration erupts when on the one hand, the Jewish towns of Harish and Katzir are developing, and on the other hand, the jurisdiction of the local Arab authorities is limited, contour plans are not submitted and the intensifying acts of violence committed against Arabs and their properties. Moreover, the demolition of Abu Sharqyee's home caused more than a large protest: strong messages flowed through the social media, even by those who have been ardent supports of co-existence: "it is time we turn to force, enough with building a shared community with the Jews, they do not respect us. Only if we react with force and violence that these injuries against us will be stopped and our needs will be met with".
When this message comes from leaders and people, who until this event took place, were a symbol of the partnership between Arabs and Jews, the community is in grave danger. It is dangerous in terms of human lives, democracy, and the ability to live side by side in the future. It is crucial to read the report submitted by Or Committee about the October Riots of 2000 over again. What is described there and brought to the eruption of the riots still exists to this day. 13 years later and reality has not changed.
The authors of this article, Yaniv Sagee and Riad Kabaha, in the middle, Sai'd Abu Sharqyee. (Photo: Samer Atamna, Giva'at Haviva).
he authors of this article, Yaniv Sagee and Riad Kabaha,
in the middle, Sai'd Abu Sharqyee.
(Photo: Samer Atamna, Giva'at Haviva).
Great mutual work and efforts are required by the government and the leadership of the Arab society, in order to settle the issues of land and housing. It is impossible, as well as wrong, to continue to turn a blind eye to the explosive situation that would put the whole democratic society in jeopardy. It is extremely dangerous to continue playing with fire by tearing down homes of peaceful citizens, who seek to build their homes on their own land.
Finally, it is all our duty to find a humane solution that would enable 75 year old Sai'd abu Sharqyee and his family to stop living in the shadow of the broken concrete. The torn down home now symbolizes the hard breakage, out of which, a symbol of the Israeli government's ability to provide a solution for this crisis should emerge.