Citizenship or Nationalism: Palestinian Jailbreak Puts Israel's Arab Community in a Bind

www.haaretz.com
3 min read
fairly difficult
Arab citizens of Israel are facing once again the question that has followed it for decades, and some fear a renewed wave of Jewish-Arab violence
The Israeli Arab community experienced the phrase "between a rock and a hard place" in a very concrete way over the weekend. The police briefings on the substantive help from Arab citizens of Israel, including reliable information on the location of four out of the six escaped prisoners, such as Zakaria Zubeidi, flooded social media and sparked a heated debate.

Did the fact that four of them were found near Arab towns mean that Israeli Arab citizens were supposed to provide them with protection and shelter? Or was it that by reporting suspicious figures to the police these very same citizens had displayed courage and acted as is to be expected from every citizen in a civilized country?

There is no unequivocal answer. In a society where almost every topic is in dispute, opinions and interpretations are wide-ranging and wait not for answers or final decisions. This weekend's events once again forced the Arab community to confront dilemmas that have trailed it for decades – citizenship or nationalism, loyalty or separatism – as well as the question of how best to navigate them.

On a practical level, the jailbreak aroused widespread sympathy and support among the Arab public. This stood out on social media in particular. The signs of identification were clear, and the escape was perceived as an act of heroism that broke and defeated the Israeli security ethos.

The political parties and movements in Arab society initially refrained from making any…
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