Libyan Junk(et)

Salman Masalha

Libyan Junk(et)

This week's visit to Libya by an Israeli Arab delegation signifies a loss of both political and moral orientation. The group, which included representatives of all Arab political parties, sectors and communities, exposed the depth of political confusion among those who pretend to represent Israel's Arab citizens. The visit did nothing to gain respect for either the delegation members or their constituency.

These members despise each other no less than they despise Avigdor Lieberman and his ilk in the Zionist parties, in some cases even more so. But wonder of wonders, all of a sudden they all came together to fly off and enjoy the hospitality of none other than Muammar Gadhafi, the man who more than anyone else represents the ugly side of the Arab regimes, the tribal autocracy. This capricious and unpredictable individual can unblinkingly say one thing and the opposite in the same breath, and no one will dare to ask him to explain, out of fear that the question will be the last he ever asks.

After a meal offered by their host came the groveling speeches, which included all the tired old slogans and the superlatives that despots of the lowest kind expect to hear about themselves. Outdoing everyone was MK Talab al-Sana, who asked the tyrant whether Libya would open its universities to Arab students from Israel. And his wish was immediately granted.

Instead of concern for schools and education here, al-Sana wants to send students to Libya. But this orotund and energetic legislator did not say where he is contemplating sending these students, or what he expects them to learn there. Perhaps to the Libyan Institute for Nano-Embroidery, or the Libyan Academy of Barbecuing Science?

After the flattery, the great leader, His Majesty the King of Kings and Emperor of Emperors, reportedly sat his guests down and gave them two solid hours of his infantile theories. He urged them, inter alia, to take two, three or four wives each, and to have lots of children. Not one of them had a word to say in reply.

It must be said loud and clear: Not only are such trips by Arab representatives to kowtow before Arab despots an insult to the intelligence, they also harm the just struggle of this country's Arab minority. Just by going to such places and saying what they say there, they are deepening mainstream Israeli society's rejection of the Arabs - the rejection against which they have been fighting a just fight for years. By not resisting the temptation to accept the invitations of Arab dictators, whoever they happen to be, they become tools of those dictators.

Astonishingly, those taking part in the junket included members of political parties like Balad, which brandishes the banner of "A state of all its citizens," and Hadash, which day in and day out emphasizes that it is a Jewish-Arab party. All of a sudden, all these MKs forgot that they have sworn an oath of loyalty to the State of Israel in the Knesset, and whom and what they are supposed to represent. They forgot that "all its citizens" means Jewish citizens, too. They forgot that a "Jewish-Arab" party includes Jews, too. They forgot all their fine and correct slogans and flew off to take shelter in the tent of the unknown.

Delegations like these reveal the civil, political and national immaturity of this country's Arab leadership. They point up the chronic emotional, social and political abandonment suffered by Arab citizens and their leaders.

This trip to Libya has exposed the wretchedness of the people who claim to represent and lead Israeli Arab society. Arab citizens deserve a better type of leadership - one that is serious and mature.

Published in: Op-Ed, Haaretz, April 29, 2010

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