Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Israeli-Arabs fear for their future

Arab citizens say they feel increasingly unwelcome in Israel and fear forced transfer to a new Palestinian state

Rachel Shabi in Umm al-Fahm, Tuesday 19 October 2010

"Like other Arab citizens of Israel, Leyla Ahmoud is anxious about her future. A young mother of two girls with another on the way, Ahmoud says recent moves by the Israeli government are making it increasingly obvious that the Arabs are not welcome in their own country.

"I feel like my life is not in my hands," said 24-year-old Ahmoud, who lives in Umm al-Fahm, a mountain-ridge town of some 43,000 inhabitants in northern Israel. "The government decides how I live and where I live. We exist in fear, from one day to the next."

Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, famously referred to Arab citizens of Israel, who make up a fifth of the population, as a "demographic bomb" in 2003. His cabinet recently passed a new citizens bill that, if approved, will require all non-Jewish migrants to pledge loyalty to Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state" – although, apparently in response to international pressure, the law may now be amended to apply to all new migrants, including Jews....."

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