In the early years, political cooperation between Jews and Arabs in a joint peace-camp was strong and getting stronger. These days are long past. The gulf has widened.
There was -- and is -- an opposite trend, too. Many Arabs are integrated in important professions, such as medicine. The last time I was hospitalized, I could not guess if the chief doctor of my department was Jewish or Arab. I had to ask my (Arab) male nurse, who confirmed that the very gentle doctor was Arab. I have found that Arab medical personnel are generally gentler than Jewish ones.
In several professions, Arabs are more or less integrated. But the general trend is the opposite. Where once there were cordial relations between neighborhoods, or between political organizations, contacts have loosened or disappeared altogether.
There were times when my friends and I visited Arab towns and villages almost every week. Not anymore.
This is not altogether an one-sided process. Insulted and rejected for so long, Arab citizens have lost the appetite for cooperation. Some of them have become more Islamist. The happenings in the Occupied Territories affect them deeply. A third and fourth generation of Israeli Arab citizens is becoming more proud and self-reliant. They are very disappointed by the failures of the Jewish peace movements.
To throw the Arab members out of the Knesset is, as a French politician once famously said, "This is worse than a crime -- it is a mistake!"
It would cut the ties between the Israeli state and more than 20% of its citizens. Some Israelis may dream of evicting the Arabs altogether from the historical country -- all six million of them in Israel proper, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip - but that is a pipedream. The world in which this was once possible does not exist any more.
What is possible, and indeed already exists, is a creeping apartheid. It is already the reality in the West bank and East Jerusalem, and -- as this episode shows -- it is becoming the reality in Israel proper, too.
The hysteria that has engulfed the country after the "visit to the 'terrorists' families" has touched the Labor party, and even Meretz, too.
I am putting "terrorists" in quotation marks because they are terrorists only to the Jews. For Arabs they are heroes, shaheeds, Muslims who sacrifice their lives to "testify" to the greatness of Allah.
The question is, of course, what is the job of an Arab MK? To upset the Jews? Or to narrow the gap and convince Israelis that Israeli-Palestinian peace is both possible and worthwhile.
I am afraid that Zuabi's smile does not help with the second aim.
IF ANYTHING, this affair has reinforced the arguments for the Two State. Let each of the two states have a parliament of its own, where they can commit all the stupidities they want, and a serious joint Coordination Council, where serious decisions can be taken.