Yesterday I attended an online meeting of the Executive of Liberal Democrats for Peace in the Middle East ("LDfPME"). This is a relatively new organisation, and I am one of the Vice Chairs.
One of the things we discussed was the recent Amnesty International report "Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: a cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity." I consider the report unbalanced, especially with regard to the coverage of Israeli citizens of Arab ethnicity.
During the discussion, I made an comment about how I would feel about being a minority citizen of Israel which I will not try to reproduce from memory. My colleagues asked me if I could produce a written version for publication.
I agreed to do that, and created some text which can now be found on the LDfPME website page "A personal perspective on Israeli minorities from Mohammed Amin MBE." (Written text allows you to give the kind of detail you never can when speaking spontaneously.)
You can also read it below.
When I think about Israel, I start from the perspective of a Muslim of Pakistani origin who has lived in the UK, as a member of a religious and an ethnic minority, from the age of two.
As a long-standing observer of Israel, who for obvious reasons identifies with its minority communities, I am very aware of those areas where Israeli law and the conduct of the Israeli government has treated, and sometimes continues to treat, Israeli Arab citizens less favourably than Israeli Jewish citizens. I am also very aware of discrimination against Israeli Arab citizens by some of Israel’s Jewish citizens.
That is why I support several organisations which work towards equal shared citizenship in Israel. For example, Merchavim, The Abraham Initiatives, and The New Israel Fund to name but three.
I am also conscious of the growing awareness of this issue in Israeli society and the significant progress that has been made in reducing discrimination over the last 10-15 years. In that regard, the current Israeli governing coalition looks like accelerating that positive trend.
To be frank, even with the remaining discrimination touched on above, if I had to choose, I would rather be an Arab citizen of Israel than, for example, a Syrian citizen of Syria or a Saudi citizen of Saudi Arabia.
The reasons are straightforward. I place exceptionally high value on my personal freedom:
As an Arab citizen of Israel, I would have those rights.
They are rights which are denied to Saudi and Syrian citizens, to name just two Muslim majority countries which are geographically near to Israel. I could cite many more countries as examples.
On 27 February 2022 I published the same message in my blog on the TalkMatters website.