In 1973, when Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on the Jewish state, there was reason to fear that Arab success on the battlefield might encourage an Arab revolt within Israel. Nothing of the sort took place, writes Abraham Rabinovich. Instead Arab Israelis rallied around the flag:
Israel’s Arabs . . . volunteered to replace mobilized Jewish reservists, worked on kibbutz farms, signed up for civil-defense work, gave blood, and bought government bonds to help finance the [state during this national] emergency. . . .
The government initially refrained from involving the Arab population in efforts to stabilize the home front. “But after a few days,” said [the then-prime minister’s adviser on Arab affairs, Shmuel] Toledano, “we saw that they were offended by this attitude.” Offices were opened in seven Arab communities to register volunteers. The bonds sold to thousands in the Arab sector had the word “war” deleted from the “war bond certificates” they received. This way, Arab Israelis could express support for the state without overtly supporting a war against Arab states.
Rabinovich saw this with his own eyes, when, working as a reporter, he made a visit to the Arab town of Nazareth:
Climbing the Galilee hills, I came upon a roundabout that lay between Arab Nazareth and the Jewish town of Nazareth Illit, which had been founded in the 1950s as a sentinel overlooking the Arab city. The border of the traffic circle was lined with tables bearing soft drinks, sandwiches, and cakes. Several military vehicles had stopped and soldiers emerged for hurried snacks. In villages and towns throughout the country local women had set up similar roadside refreshment points for soldiers heading for the fronts. But there was something different about this one. All the women at the tables catering to the soldiers were Arab.
[The village’s mayor], Seif e-Din Zouabi . . . held a rally in the Arab city “to express support for the state.” Six hundred residents turned up. The rally was clearly expedient politically in the charged circumstances—Israel was at war with Arab states and the authorities were closely watching the reaction of Arab Israelis. But Zouabi offered an insight that sounded more like empathy than expedience. “Arab Israelis appreciate that the Jews have sent their children to war,” he said, “while we sit home at night and count our children.”