Something important happened in Israel during the Gaza operation: for the first time, her Arabs rioted in response to foreign events. Thirty years ago, any riots were unthinkable: the commonsense leftist establishment ruled the Arabs with an iron fist. Intifada came about because Israelis strongly provoked their Arabs: the Oslo capitulation created an impression that the Palestinian victory was near and only a last-ditch effort was needed to free the land of Zionists. The Oslo Intifada came in response to Palestinian domestic events. The current operation in Gaza was entirely different.

Most Israeli Arabs have had no communication with Gaza for sixty years; in other words, the two communities never communicated. A large number of illegal migrants from Gaza live in Lod, which is itself alien to other Israeli Arabs. Settled Israeli Arabs feel their roots in their villages even when they have lived in towns for generations. Gazans are an uprooted bunch; their villages are no more. Other Palestinians, accordingly, despise them.

Not surprisingly, the West Bank was the Muslim territory with the lowest attendance of pro-Gazan demonstrations. Relatively affluent West Bankers not only despise their poor and displaced brethren in Gaza, but fear them greatly. A contiguous West Bank–Gaza state is their nightmare, as they don’t want criminal lumpens from Gaza swarming the West Bank cities and villages. Palestinian loyalists explain the lack of rallies by claiming that Fatah suppresses pro-Hamas expression, but that’s a non sequitur: Israeli Arabs stage pro-Gaza rallies without Hamas flags, and so could the West Bankers—but they are not interested. The West Bank Palestinians developed a self-identification which excludes both Israel and Gaza, and comfortably insulated themselves in it.

Not so with Israeli Arabs. A new generation was educated in Israeli schools and universities; it learned secular nationalism from glorious Jewish examples and religious nationalism in mosques. The peace process pronounced them non-Palestinians—true Palestinians live in the West Bank and suffer from Israeli occupation, rather than benefit from Israeli municipal services. They cannot identify with the Jewish state, its Zionist ideology, and its Judaic symbols. So they search desperately for self-identification. To that end, they insist on being brothers to Gazans, behave quite militantly, and oppose the Jewish state which seeks to strip them of their anti-Jewish identity.

In every revolution, the vast majority remain inert. Revolutions succeed depending on the zeal of a few. Israeli analysts wrongly concentrate on the rosy picture of large numbers of Israeli Arabs who vote in elections, work at Jewish factories side-by-side with Jews, and otherwise behave subserviently. More important is the minority of Arabs who urgently seek their national roots. The ever-increasing economic gap between hard-working Jews and inefficient Arabs, massive welfare which allows Arabs idle time, and the provocative police inaction in the face of Arab lawlessness combine to increase the numbers and zeal of Palestinian patriots in Israel.

Nice Jews of the Diaspora sat quietly while European Muslims rioted against Israel. Naturally, gentiles think that the operation in Gaza is not critical to Jews, but of overarching significance for Arabs—and side with them. Jews in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa go on with their life’s routine while their neighbors’ children fight in Gaza and other Jews thirty miles away sit in bomb shelters. Arabs rioted in support of Gaza; for three years when rockets fell on South Israel, where were the Jewish riots in support of Sderot? Arabs desperately want to win; to that all-important end, they have no qualms about targeting Israeli civilians, even her Arabs. Jews value foreign opinion and fake morality above victory, and deliver humanitarian aid to Hamas’ voters. Victorious Israel sued for ceasefire while defeated Hamas refused to submit to international pressure, clung to its nationalist demands, and rejected permanent accommodation. Jews accept the moral equivalence of the People of Israel with the Palestinian no-nation, but Hamas doesn’t deal in splitting its motherland.

In the end, every struggle is a competition in determination. On one side, there are Jews taught that they have no religious right to this land and basically stole it from its owners. On other side, there are Arabs who believe they have a religious right to this land and are its rightful owners. Jews can rid themselves of the post-Zionist attitude or of the Arabs—preferably of both. Otherwise, our chances against Palestinian patriots are slim.

Arab patriots prevail against cynical Jews