Tuesday, October 16, 2012

There's no one to vote for


For Israeli Arabs, there's no one to vote for:
A secular, liberal, democratic and fair-minded Arab citizen can't vote for either parties that support the Butcher of Damascus and his ilk, as Hadash and Balad do, or a separatist Muslim party like UAL.

Salman Masalha || There's no one to vote for


The country is once again abuzz, as the old cliche goes. Color has returned to the cheeks of all the pundits and politicians. Why? Because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to call early elections, and he has leapt at the flattering polls that have fallen into his lap and rushed to inform the nation that the running in place will continue for another four years.

The show will go on for three whole months. Nevertheless, it's worth paying some attention to one face of the issue - or, to be more precise, many faces - generally kept out of view in this performance.

Four years ago, I confess, I didn't vote in the elections. I refrained not because I don't believe in democracy, but for a very simple reason: There was no one to vote for. And now, wonder of wonders, with new elections upon us, this opinion of mine has received redoubled validity.

After all, the electoral discourse, which is steadily growing more heated, stinks once again. Like all Israeli elections, this one is being conducted as a "Jewish democratic election," as befits a "Jewish democratic" state. Beneath this discourse hides a bitter truth: A liberal, secular, democratic, fair-minded Arab citizen has nothing to look for in this election. These "democratic" performances are aimed at establishing governments strictly by and for Jews.

As things look now, four years later, there is still no one to vote for. There are many reasons for this belief. It's enough to listen to the party discourse that has erupted on every television screen in recent days and is being voiced from every platform to understand the pointlessness of voting. The pundits and politicians have begun performing their calculations, forming governments and dismantling coalitions, crowning this one or that as the person who will deal with the Iranian threat and appointing John or Jane Doe as his right hand.

In this "democratic" discourse, one fifth of Israel's citizens disappear. Year after year, the custom is to lump all Arab voters into a single basket called "the Arab parties." The media follows the pollsters in this, thereby perpetuating the ignorance of the general public.

The mobilized Zionist media knows how to take a Jewish MK whom everyone deems kosher, Dov Khenin of the Israel Communist Party, link him up with an Islamist Arab MK, Ibrahim Sarsur of United Arab List, and throw them both into the basket called "the Arab parties." It goes without saying that the Israel Communist Party is, as its name implies, an Israeli communist party. It has always insisted that it is a patriotic Israeli party with both Jewish and Arab members.

But the biggest lie of all is the label "Arab" borne by the United Arab List. For in terms of the party's composition and essence, it is neither Arab nor the least bit united.

It's well known that the Arab public is comprised of different communities: Muslims, Christians and Druze. But lo and behold, this party contains not a trace of two of these three communities: Christians and Druze. This shows better than anything else that UAL is at its root a separatist Muslim party, and that is how it is seen by the Arab public itself. This fact is also reflected in the Knesset elections, in which this party doesn't get a single vote from Christian or Druze voters.

Therefore, calling UAL a "united Arab" party is nothing but a deception. The existence of such a party, which is strictly for Muslims and the Islamic Movement, on one hand serves the Zionist regime, which emphasizes the "Jewishness" of the state, while on the other hand splintering the Arab public into religious communities, and thus perpetuating the communal divisions within it.

A secular, liberal, democratic and fair-minded Arab citizen can't vote for either parties that support the Butcher of Damascus and his ilk, as Hadash and Balad do, or a separatist Muslim party like UAL. Nor can such an Arab citizen vote for the Zionist parties, which exclude him from the government of his country and his homeland for racist reasons. Therefore, in the absence of a truly civic party, there is no one to vote for in these elections.
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Published: Opinion-Haaretz, October 16, 2012

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