Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Someone should send a copy of this article to Bill Safire and every other American Likudnik, and ask for a response. But then again, Jewish 'liberals' might want to read it as well.

"Seated in her second-floor flat, surrounded by African cloth prints on the walls, classical music CDs and shelves filled with art and Jewish history books, it is not immediately clear what kind of threat Nathan represents. She is slight, still not fully recovered from surgery for a rare eye cancer, and her thin voice is easily drowned out when the muezzin begins the midday call to prayer. Although she refuses to speak Hebrew in Tamra, she still wears a Star of David pendant around her neck.

Paradoxically, her stance has also earned her the enmity of the Israeli peace movement. "The Jewish left is totally in thrall to the idea of two states for two people. What I am doing by showing that Jews and Arabs can live together in peace undermines their argument."

Although there is little in the law to prevent Arabs and Jews from living together, in practice it almost never happens. Israeli Jews are educated to see their Arab neighbours as either primitive or dangerous, says Nathan. Jews and Arabs are forbidden to inter-marry in Israel: the tiny number who do must leave the country and marry abroad, usually in nearby Cyprus. The handful who do live together do so incognito, usually in Tel Aviv or in one of what are misleadingly termed "mixed cities" such as Lod, Acre or Haifa. But in reality these are little more than Jewish cities with poor, separate Arab neighbourhoods.

Israeli Arabs face their own obstacles to joining Jewish communities. Some 93% of land is owned by the state; and those who try to lease it are vetted by committees that weed out undesirables, including Arabs. Against this background, and the eruption of the intifada, Nathan started to question her own Zionism and the direction the Jewish state had taken since its founding. "

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