Tuesday, September 16, 2014 Elul 21, 5774

War​ning Fires in Acre

October 16, 2008
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The violence between Jews and Arabs in the city of Acre during and following Yom Kippur has disturbed Israelis and left them wondering about more than the future of that city.

That Acre would be racked by rioting is deeply ironic. The northern Israeli city was known as a place where the mixed population of Jews and Arabs were able to live in peace. But after Jews voiced outrage about an Arab taxi driving through a Jewish neighborhood on the Day of Atonement, an Arab mob, acting on the false belief that the driver had been killed, torched Jewish businesses. Jewish rioters then burned down Arab homes.

While most of the focus on Israel has concentrated on the disposition of the West Bank, Acre is a reminder of an even-more- grave threat. The growing radicalization of the Arab minority that lives within the country's June 1967 borders, and the hostility that this has engendered among Jews, has made it clear that no matter where the boundary lines are drawn, Jews and Arabs must learn to live with each other.

Israeli Arabs have many justified grievances against the government in Jerusalem. But the willingness of Arab political leaders to foment violence in this community and to reject the legitimacy of the state undermines all efforts to bolster coexistence. A commitment to peace must be a two-way street.

The Jewish state still has much work to do if it is to fulfill its promise to treat all of its citizens equally. But if Israel's Arab minority, which has rights that few of their co-religionists enjoy elsewhere in the Middle East, starts to identify more with groups that support Hamas than those that embrace peace, then it is likely that last week's violence in Acre is a harbinger of even worse to come.  

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