Salman Masalha || Boycott the election
The media adore elections. Everyone here wants to feel like America but is choosing only the glittery American shell. No one is talking about the essence. Everyone loves to talk about social justice, because its very fashionable. No one is saying from what to subtract and in whom and in what to invest.
What are they finding so interesting here about Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman running on the same ticket? After all, both of them have been in the same coalition for many years now and no one is able to point to any ideological difference between them. Moreover it is possible to build another story on top of the infrastructure of their joint list Likud - Beiteinu (literally Likud - Our Home) and add another home, Habayit Hayehudi (the Jewish Home). Indeed, who is able to point out serious differences among all those parties?
And it doesn’t stop there. On issues such as occupation, war, peace, national justice and other such “unimportant” trifles, there is no difference among the Zionist parties, as evidenced by the hopscotch of Knesset members jumping ungracefully from there to here and from here to there. The jumpers of all stripes are doing this in the awareness that there is no abyss gaping between the parties out there. The transition does not require concessions on any positions, heavens forefend. All that is required of that the player tread lightly, as in stick out a foot and step in it.
From the perspective of the Arab voter, the grassroots Israeli apartheid is working overtime in the media. They combine different parties under the rubric of the code name “Arab parties” with the aim of keeping an entire public out of the political discourse in Israel. For example, it is possible to see a manifestation of this in Ari Shavit’s op-ed “Israel’s senseless Elections (Haaretz English Edition, December 20). “The Israelis, unaware of what they are doing, are making an irrevocable decision to perpetuate the occupation and to end Zionism,” he writes. Moreover, “But apart from Tzipi Livni and Zahava Gal-On, nobody talks about it. Apart from Hatnuah and Meretz, nobody cries out.”
In Shavit’s political lexicon strictly kosher Israeli parties like Hadash and Balad, which take an oath of loyalty to the state of Israel in Israel’s Knesset, simply do not exist. In Shavit’s lexicon kosher Knesset members like Dov Khenin and Ahmed Tibi do not exist. Hence, this being the case, the election is being conducted in Shavit & Co.’s “Jewish state.”
There is also the despicable species of those whose sole desire is to use the Arab citizens in order to replace the right-wing government and then throw them away. These are heard expressing regret that the Arabs are not uniting into a single Arab party and increasing their representation. Well, here is a scoop: As among the Jews, the Arabs too are divided between left and right – with respect to both political and social issues. As among the Jews, there are Arabs who are secular, religious, traditional and so forth.
Among the Arabs there are parties parallel to the Zionist parties. The United Arab List – Ta’al is the Arab parallel to Habayit Hayehudi: This is an Islamic party, pure and simple, the party of “the Muslim Home” in which there is no trace of Christian or Druze Arabs, never mind truly secular Arabs.
There’s the argument that says an Arab who doesn’t vote is equivalent to someone who votes for Netanyahu – an argument that comes from the despicable racist species. The real question is why would an Arab citizen anoint Netanyahu clones to reign over him? After all, we have not heard from any party a commitment that Arab citizens will be represented in the government, any government that arises. We have not heard a commitment of this sort from any of those who are aspiring to replace Netanyahu. This being so, for whom should we vote? For being a “blocking bloc,” in the sense of disposable Arabs who do the job and then can skedaddle?
All the political rushing about and all the commentaries will not change the picture. There is nothing new under the heavens of Israeli politics. It seems that the headline summing up this election is “Israel snores.” Let it be said, then, loud and clear: No thanks. Therefore I am calling for a boycott of the election.
Published: Opinion-Haaretz, Dec. 26, 2012