July 28, 2021

RFI hands its microphone to young “Israeli Arabs” in search of recognition


It is one of the unspoken of the State of Israel. Almost a quarter of the country’s population is not Jewish. The overwhelming majority of Muslims, 23% of the 9 million citizens are “Israeli Arabs”, to use the official terminology. Most of them are descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land when the State of Israel was created in 1948.

It is to explore this paradox that RFI sent two of its journalists to report at the time of the latest events which ended up precipitating the fall of Benyamin Netanyahu on June 13. Trying to understand what some call a “de facto apartheid”, to use the expression chosen by two human rights NGOs, the Israeli B’Tselem and the American Human Rights Watch.

Guilhem Delteil went to meet these Israeli citizens like no other. They lived together, it was believed, on good terms with their Jewish fellow citizens, in Jaffa, Haifa, Saint-Jean-d’Acre… Lived peacefully in the autonomous towns and villages of Galilee, including Nazareth. And then, in the wake of the umpteenth clashes between Tel Aviv and Hamas in Gaza, many of them took to the streets to denounce the occupation of the Palestinian territories by “their” country; participating in a general strike with Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank on May 18.

This minority “In search of recognition”, says the report, has in no way given up its “Palestinian identity”, quite the contrary. “We were like teenagers under pressure, so we had to expect that we would explode, at some point”, affirms one of these rebels, born in Jaffa thirty-three years ago. Smadar Saadi is more balanced. “We want to build something, we have to build something together”, insists this restaurateur from Jaffa, who speaks warmly about her Jewish or Christian neighbors. It “Reject labels”, and is defined “Member of a large family”. She apologizes laughing for speaking her mother tongue badly, Arabic though it is: “As we live together, we always mix Arabic and Hebrew. “

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Between fed up and hope

Living together… A challenge facing the new Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett. The other RFI reporter, his correspondent Alice Froussard, went as close as possible to hand his microphone to this new generation “Who does not hesitate to correct the dominant discourse, aspires to new leaders, and who, above all, has broken the barrier of fear”. A youth shared between fed up and hope, well decided, “From Jerusalem to Gaza, via Ramallah, Haifa, Hebron or even Nablus, [à] take[re] the words “.

Two young Palestinian Israeli from Nazareth, 20 and 21, who prefer to remain anonymous, summarize the general state of mind, in simple terms, with, in the background, the fire of police grenades: “We’re just humans. We have the right to rise up, peacefully. We don’t hurt anyone. We are not the ones who want to rob houses, neighborhoods… We are all together, all next to each other, and that, they will never destroy it. “

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The Palestinians, citizens of Israel in search of recognition, by Guilhem Delteil (Fr., 2021, 20 min), et The Palestinian Youth Uprising, of Alice Froussard (Fr., 2021, 20 min).