Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sayed Kashua || Israeli Arabs' only hope at the polls


Sayed Kashua || 
 Israeli Arabs' only hope at the polls


Dear Salman,

First of all, I hope you’re in good health, and that we will be able to meet again in Jerusalem. Forgive me for writing you in a newspaper and not in a personal letter. But this time I felt it was my duty to publish a letter in response to your recent opinion piece in these pages ("Why I’m voting Meretz and not for the Arab ticket," March 12), in the hopes that you will once again choose the path of Moshe Dayan and change your mind. Not necessarily about voting Meretz, but rather in making your crude comparisons, which to me are unrealistic, between Balad and Yisrael Beiteinu, and the Islamic Movement and Habayit Hayehudi.



I’m sure you’re aware of my views on jingoism and nationality, as well as my stance on religion and religious political parties. But when I read your article, I felt you were doing a great injustice – not only to the new Joint List of Arab parties, but particularly to this newspaper’s readership.

I wondered why you chose to compare the Islamic Movement to Habayit Hayehudi, and not another religious movement like Shas. Of all the possibilities, why did you compare Balad’s nationalism to Yisrael Beiteinu, and not to the nationalism of Zionist Camp, or even that of Meretz?

Have the Islamic Movement and its representatives sought to rule over another people? Do they champion occupation and force other peoples off their land because of promises made in holy books?

Your description of Balad members as being in the vein of Yisrael Beiteinu was misleading, and constitutes an act of throwing sand in the eyes of the reader. It’s possible that some Balad supporters are guilty of jingoism, but comparing that party and its platform to Avigdor Lieberman’s party is a great sin. How can you compare a party that goes by the slogan “a state for all its citizens” to a party that considers Arabs a demographic threat, a fifth column, and as being representatives of terrorist organizations in the Knesset?

When have you heard a Balad MK call for the destruction of Israel, or for deporting citizens? Sadly, your article contained incitement reminiscent of Lieberman’s messages against Arabs.

May God forgive you, my friend, for prompting me to defend a religious party, and even a nationalist one. Although, if you’re wondering, yes – I believe concessions should be made when it comes to an oppressed minority on the issue of nationalism.

“If only there were a Palestinian state already,” a good friend and Balad supporter told me after I accused him of nationalism but not jingoism. “Just let there be a state and I’ll be the first to burn the flag,” he said.

Yes, we deserve some concessions. When I was young and optimism still flowed in my veins, I marched in protests against land appropriation, against the occupation and discrimination, and I remember how I acted when I heard some protesters shouting religious slogans, and others yelling jingoist ones.

How I had to bite my tongue, look for the group with the red flag under which Jews and Arabs marched together, still at the same protest, and remind myself that the overarching goal of the joint march – crying out together against discrimination and disenfranchisement – needs to be front and center.

I’m the last person who would support a schism between Arab and Jewish parties; I’ve always supported parties that feature a joint list. But I look at the Arab towns and I see the danger, the want, the crowding and violence that will only get worse without a fundamental change in the government’s policy toward its Arab citizens. We need a strong defense, a defense that no other party can currently offer Arabs.

It’s possible that I’m mistaken, Salman, my friend; it’s possible that there’s no room for hope. But I must say that Joint List head Ayman Odeh managed to instill some faith in me since last summer, full as it was of hatred, racism and blood, during which I felt that there would never be a common future together.

I saw Odeh facing Lieberman, and for the first time in many years, Lieberman didn’t scare me. He looked lackluster compared to the young politician who wouldn’t play into his hands. I saw Odeh and understood for the first time in many long months that there is still something to fight for, that a regime of segregation and fearmongering can be beaten, that it’s still possible to overthrow the government that silences the people, that it’s still possible to prevent a descent into the abyss of apartheid.

Odeh is the only one that has succeeded to instill in me the hope that there is still a chance of ending the occupation; that there is still a chance that we will be accepted as full citizens, including having roles in decision making and in land and resource allocation; that there is still a chance that we will stop being accused of treason and ingratitude when we aren’t satisfied with the crumbs and justifications we are fed by some of the decision makers; and that there’s still a chance that one day we will be full citizens with all that entails.

For that hope, for that faith, I am in Odeh’s debt, and because of that hope and faith I’m sorry that I am unable to vote.

“But it 40 days haven't passed,” my mother answered on the phone this week when I asked her to go out and vote.
“I know,” I answered my mother, busy mourning my father. “But, Mom, you have to.”
“Okay,” she gave in. “For you, for your children.”
“For all our children,” I told her.
*

Published: Haaretz, 17 Mar. 2015

***

For Hebrew, press here


Print Friendly and PDF

Share:


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


Racism
  • 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

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


Press photo to Email

Classic

***
Jazz




Site Archive

SELECTED TOPICS

 
Essays
  • 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

Poetry
  • 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


    listen

TOPICS