Thursday, January 8, 2015

What’s missing is an Israeli party

Israel’s decent Jewish citizens should vote only for parties that publicly state that Arab MKs must be part of any future government coalition.

Salman Masalha || 
What’s missing is an Israeli party

Political life in Israel is based on ethnic and religious identities. There are Jewish parties that occasionally have a token Arab, and Arab parties that sometimes have a token Jew. But there has never been a genuine Israeli party.

In a state whose citizens are of varied ethnic and religious backgrounds, parties named for a particular ethnic or religious community — that is, parties that appropriate for themselves the community’s name — should be prohibited. Every community contains within it a variety of social and political groups.

Recently there have been calls, by Israeli Jews who claim to have the common good in mind, for Israel’s Arabs to run on a single ticket in the March election. The premise of their suggestion goes to the root of the problem in Israel. On one hand, those who seek to put all the Arabs into one political basket also put themselves, all the Jews, into one basket. On the other hand, these same people would never demand that all the Jews should field a single slate. The Jews, in their eyes, are varied, whereas the Arabs are a different story.

Israel’s Arabs do play the democratic game, voting and sending “authentic” representatives from a range of parties to the Knesset. One could say this is democracy at its finest. In comparison to other Arabs in this part of the world, one could say they lucked out.

But from the moment the Arab Knesset members are sworn in, everything stops. From that point on, Israeli democracy starts to limp. In the entire history of the state, none of the individuals tapped to form the government has ever considered bringing the “Arab parties” into the coalition. Nor have any opposition leaders, who ostensibly want to replace the government. The only time the Arab MKs are counted is in a no-confidence motion.

For that reason, anyone who thinks that creating a single Arab ticket, raising voter turnout and putting more Arabs in the Knesset would in any way change the political situation of the country’s Arab citizens will be disappointed. Those who through the years ignored 10 Arab MKs will probably ignore 15 or even 20 Arab MKs. The Jewish parties will form the next government and leave the Arabs outside. So it has been and so it will continue in the state of the Jews.

Unless the ideas that created this situation undergo a sea change, the Knesset holds nothing for Israel’s Arabs. Participating in elections under the current arrangement only perpetuates their exclusion. It only polishes Israel’s image in international public opinion.

Israel’s decent Jewish citizens should vote only for parties that publicly state that Arab MKs must be part of any future government coalition. Israel’s Arab citizens, in contrast to the populist Arab political parties, want to be partners in making the decisions that affect their lives. Therefore, the only worthy alternative in this political desert is a party that champions equal citizenship, neither Jewish nor Arab. Until such a party arises, we will continue to wallow in the racist, ultranationalist dialogue and to sling mud at each other.

In light of this egregious state of affairs, a new party must be established along the lines detailed above. Everyone living in this country who cares about its citizens must make an effort to found such a party. It is the only option worth supporting.
Published: Haaretz, Jan. 8, 2015

For Hebrew, press here


Facebook comments:
Middle East
  • The Arab world's quagmire

    Only a society that can engage in introspection and self-examination can emerge from its dark past and march confidently to a different future. Otherwise, it will continue to sink into the same marshy swamp.

    Read more

    A Feeble Middle East

    The West learned on its own flesh that this region conducts itself by other codes. Iran has continued to entrench its standing by means of its religious ideology. The toppling of Saddam Hussein shattered the illusion of the existence of a unifying “Iraqi identity” and gave an encouraging shot in the arm to Iran, which is forging ahead.

    Read more

  • The decay in the Arab world

    With great sadness, it can be said that in the absence of a sane civil alternative, the Arab world will continue along this path.

    Read more

    Neither Arab nor Spring

    The vicissitudes that have, for some reason, been collectively dubbed the "Arab Spring" are neither Arab nor Spring. One can say that they are actually living proof of the identity crisis and reverberating bankruptcy of Arab nationalism.

    Read more

  • another title

Israel - Palestine
  • Our troubles come from us

    And so we have reached a situation in which every Arab is concerned with his own problems and everyone talks about what preoccupies him personally – that is, his own troubles.

    Read more

  • Never-ending tragedy

    The Israeli right, in all its forms, wants exclusively Jewish control over all of the Land of Israel. To the Palestinians who live in this space, it promises residency – temporary, of course, on condition that they keep their heads down, accept their designated status and behave accordingly.

    Read more
  • Solomon’s Mosque

    Religion, every religion, is the No. 1 enemy of nationalism. But under conditions of tension, such as tribal warfare, these polar opposites combine into a toxic soup that consumes all common sense.

    Read more

  • They see not, nor know

    The term "neutralize" is very popular with people who have served in the security and expulsion forces. The question to be asked is, What did the poet who spoke of "neutralization" mean in this plan?

    Read more

    For Jews only

    From the moment the pundits followed in the footsteps of the politicians, both large and small, they carried this noxious melody everywhere. They were part of legitimizing the illegitimate in Israeli politics.

    Read more

  • With yearning soul

    The Zionism that aspired to establish a "Jewish home" in the Jews' "ancient homeland" did not take into consideration the fact that the land was not empty. It thus adopted the principle of population transfer, based on the same ancient biblical tradition.

    Read more

    Rabbis of the Dry Bones

    Racism surfaces when a society loses its self-confidence and turns to seeking ways to defend itself against what is different and perceived as increasingly threatening.

    Read more

  • الحلم

    أنّي في سجن جدران بيضاء
    حيث لا يعرفني أحدٌ، وأصواتٌ
    تختفي في الرّدهات، وأضواء تستنشقُ
    جمجمتي اللّاهثة.
    تتمة الكلام

Press photo to Email



Site Archive


  • The pit and the pendulum

    In those days, we did not drink four goblets of wine, because everything that gladdens the human heart is not a part of our custom.

    Read more

  • Welcome Back to History

    Islam, like other imperialist ideologies, still needs enemies to flourish. Enemies have served Islam in the past as fuel for its wagons. Without enemies Islam declines and stagnates...

    Read more

  • another title

  • Balkrishna Sama

    Man Is God

    He who loves flowers, has a tender heart.
    he who cannot pluck their blooms,
    has a heart that's noble.

    Read more

  • Martin Niemöller

    First They Came

    First they came for the Communists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Communist.
    Then they came for the Socialist
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Read More

  • Salman Masalha

    The Song About the Child

    Boston Gospel Choir

    Text: Salman Masalha
    Composer: Stephen Feigenbaum