New Arab Group Stresses Opposition to Armed Action Against Israel

A spokesman for the new Israel Arab Action Committee said today that the goal of the committee was “to demonstrate to Jews in Israel and to the public abroad that we are opposed to all attempts at armed action against Israel.”

The spokesman, Rustum Bastouni, an architect and former Mapam member of the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, said also that a majority of the non-Jewish population in Israel identified itself with the state. He added that an effort was now needed to convince the Jewish population of Israel that the problem of the 250,000 Arabs in Israel should not be confused with the political problem of Israel’s relations with the neighboring Arab states.

“We regard ourselves as free citizens of Israel and expect equal rights,” he declared. “If we are suspected of conspiring with hostile Arab states to bring about Israel’s overthrow and are, as a result, subject to limitations and discriminations, then we have no future here and we had better leave the country.

“But,” he added, “we were born here, and we accept Israel’s statehood of our own free will. We believe it is perfectly compatible to be an Arab and an Israeli citizen. We also favor army service for minorities.” He explained that the committee did not plan to set up an organization with a registered membership, and that the committee would seek only sympathizers. He said the committee would make its opinions known to Arabs in Israel and to Arabs abroad.

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