There is no Arab left-wing in Israel

You call this a left?
The left is supposed to bridge the gap and the national tension by positing a civic agenda that crosses ethnic boundaries. The question is whether there is such a leftist agenda among the Arabs in Israel.

Salman Masalha

There is no
Arab left-wing
in Israel

There's no left without Arabs, states Oudeh Basharat (Haaretz, July 19 ), adding: "Had the 11 MKs of the Hadash faction and the Arab factions evaporated during the vote on the Boycott Law, the difference in favor of supporters of the law would have increased from nine to 20 votes."

It's true, there's no left without Arabs; but this slogan is only a half truth. The left is supposed to bridge the gap and the national tension by positing a civic agenda that crosses ethnic boundaries. The question is whether there is such a leftist agenda among the Arabs in Israel. Because in order for there to be a genuine left in Israel, there also has to be some kind of Arab left. And it seems that such a left does not exist.

Basharat did well to try to distinguish between his party, Hadash, and the other Arab factions - because Hadash is, in essence, a Jewish-Arab party, centered around the Israeli Communist Party (Maki ). However, Basharat cannot deny that Hadash has long since lost its unique character on the Israeli political landscape, and its leaders, especially on its Arab side, are not preoccupied with an ideological, social and political discussion, but rather with slogans and a chauvinistic, populist competition with the other groups in the Arab sector.

Blatant evidence of this can be found in the words of Mohammed Nafa, the secretary general of Maki, which were published in Arabic on the Hadash Web site. You have to read his words in order to understand the deterioration of the party that in the past presumed to be Jewish-Arabic, with a progressive civic and social agenda. The secretary-general of the party unashamedly comes to the defense of the murderous and tyrannical Syrian regime: "We will never surrender to the Israeli prostitution that is trying to portray Israel as a victim," he writes to his readers in Arabic, adding: "We must be more involved in the struggle against the Israeli and American occupation rather than in attacking the Syrian regime. The Syrian, North Korean and Iranian dictatorships are far preferable to the American, Israeli and NATO occupiers and all their Arab collaborators, especially in the Gulf states."

So the party that is supposed to fly the flag of the left aligns itself with the benighted ayatollahs of Iran, with the North Korean dictatorship - one of the darkest regimes on earth - and with the murderous tribal regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad that for months has been massacring Syrian citizens and cutting the throats of those who desire and are pursuing freedom.

Can the "pearls of wisdom" of the secretary-general of the Israeli Communist Party be a part of any leftist agenda? I doubt it. It seems that aside from the blind hatred for the United States and Israel that in the past decades has become a kind of populist Arab religion, he has nothing to offer, certainly not an agenda that a genuine left is supposed to present to Jews and Arabs in Israel.

Basharat comes to the correct conclusion in his article: "Only an alliance between the Arabs and the sane forces among the Jews can stop the slide into fascism. The rank and file Arab citizen must be given the sense that he has a good reason to go out and vote - that he has allies."

It's true, an alliance of the sane, Arabs and Jews, could serve as a dam to block the fascism that is suddenly sweeping the country. But it would seem that the words of the secretary-general of Maki, which we have cited here, not only fail to attest to sanity, but leave no reason for a rank and file Arab or Jewish citizen to vote for a party whose spiritual leader is a person who espouses such views.
*
Published: Op-Ed, Haaretz, 26 July 2011

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Rabbi Lior's racism is not his fault

Rabbi Dov Lior did not invent the wheel. He only hung the monotheistic dirty laundry out in public.
---

Salman Masalha

It's not Rabbi Lior's fault

First, let me say this: As a descendant of one of the Sons of Noah who has violated all manners of prohibitions, I am doomed to any number of odd and sundry deaths. The choice offered to those of my ilk is one of the following three: death by sword, death by stoning or death by strangulation. In his "Law of Kings," Moses Maimonides (the Rambam ) specifies that for violating the Noahide laws I am sentenced to death by the sword, unless I have sex with a Jewish maiden who is engaged to be married, in which case I shall be stoned to death; alternatively, if she is already married, then I am to be strangled to death.

I am addressing this matter in light of the tempest over the detention for police questioning of the recalcitrant Rabbi Dov Lior, who did not report for an interview despite repeated supplications from law enforcement authorities.

I don't understand what all the fuss is about. None of the racist things attributed to one rabbi or another, or one Muslim sheikh or another, are new. Anyone who looks at the laws of the monotheistic religions can easily determine the root of the problem. Monotheists not only like to enter the bedrooms of others; they not only stuff themselves into other's guts in an endless search for something that made its way there without permission; they not only put veils, burkas or headscarves on their pious women, who pray for children - monotheists from all their religions and all their sects love to spill blood, lots of blood. This must be said. The naked truth must be told.

There are some good-intentioned, if entirely naive, souls who are quick to quote verses such as "Love your neighbor as yourself." They seek to coat the bitter pill by presenting some positive side of religion. But they forget that "your neighbor" refers solely to another Jew. The verse (Leviticus 19:18 ) commands: "Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." In his explication of the verse Rambam specifies that this applies to all members of the House of Israel who follow the Torah and its commandments, and that it is a mitzvah to hate anyone who does not accept the Torah.

Not to mention "Haviv adam shenivra b'tzelem" ("Beloved is man who is created in the image" ), which is cited incessantly as supposed proof of humanity of any kind in humanism in general and in Judaism in particular. Here, too, the reference is to Jews only. According to the sages, only Israel, Jews, are called "adam," "and not the nations of the world." Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook ("Haro'eh ), providing a persuasive explanation to his flock: "The difference between the Israeli soul, its independence, its inner yearning, its aspiration, its characteristics and disposition, and the soul of all the other nations, is greater and deeper than the difference between the soul of a human being and the soul of a beast." What could we possibly add to these warm sentiments?

All the greatest experts in halakha (Jewish law ) follow this concept. For the sake of example, here's the explanation of Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel (the Maharal ): "The perfection of creation, which relates to the human in particular, applies to Israel and not to the nations." He added that the gradation of Israel in comparison to the other nations is comparable to the gradation of the human being in comparison to non-speaking animals.

If this is the situation, then why are so many politicians and self-declared defenders of the law picking on the respected rabbi of the national religious movement? The "enlightened" rabbi did not invent the wheel, after all. He only hung the monotheistic dirty laundry out in public. The populist politicians show off their dirty clothes in their media-blanketed appearances at every available opportunity (see under: Jewish democracy ), and in their eyes the rabbi is guilty of slander.

It must be said, clearly and unequivocally: The moral impurity resides in the benighted teachings of monotheism. Until everyone with the pretense of being cultured recognizes this, in this region and throughout the world, there will be no light at the end of the tunnel.
*
Published: Op-Ed, Haaretz, July 4, 2011


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On Artistic Freedom in the Nationalist Era

Salman Masalha

On Artistic Freedom
in the Nationalist Era


As I am not a state, I have
no secure borders nor an army
guarding its soldiers’ lives night and day and there is no
colored line drawn by a dusty general in the margins
of his victory. As I am not a legislative
council, a dubious
parliament wrongly called a house
of representatives, as I am not a son
of the chosen people, nor am I
an Arab mukhtar, no one will falsely accuse me of being
a fatherless anarchist who spits
into the well round which the people
feast on their holidays, rejoicing
at their patriarchs’ tombs. As I am not a fatalist or member
of an underground, building churches,
mosques and synagogues in the hearts of children
who will no doubt die for the sake of the
Holy Name in Heaven,
as I am not an excavation contractor
or earth merchant, nor a sculptor
of tombstones polishing memorials
for the greater glory of the dead,
as I have no government, with
or without a premier, and there is no
chairman sitting on my head, I can
under such extenuating circumstances
sometimes allow myself to be human,
to be a bit free.
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Translated by Vivian Eden

Published: Books-Haaretz, July 2011
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Most recently, this poem, from the volume “Ehad Mikan” (“In Place,” Am Oved ), was chosen by the rock band Batsir 76 as the single for their new album, “Folk Yisraeli” (Israeli Folk ), which they will launch on July 9, 2011 at Tmuna theater in Tel Aviv.
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CULTURE
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