Salman Masalha ||
Why I’m voting Meretz
The actions of the Joint List of Arab parties for the Knesset over the question of a surplus votes agreement with Meretz was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Meretz was willing to cancel its surplus votes agreement with the Zionist Union to sign such an agreement with the Joint List, just to prevent tens of thousands of votes from going to waste – but the Joint List refused.
What Moshe Dayan said before the signing of the peace agreement with Egypt is well known: “Better Sharm el-Sheikh without peace than peace without Sharm el-Sheikh,” but the time came and Dayan joined Menachem Begin’s government and was one of those who pushed the signing of the treaty with Anwar Sadat. When the opponents of the agreement reminded him of his statement, he did not hesitate to say he had changed his mind, then came out with the statement that later turned into a cliché: “Only an ass doesn’t change his mind.”
I admit that I boycotted recent elections, and that I recently used this platform to call for boycotting the present election too. I had many reasons in favor of a boycott. The reasons have not changed. The circumstances have.
When Islamist imams declare in the Arab media that a vote for the Joint List will bring down the rule of the right, yet the Joint List includes an Islamic Movement whose candidates live a polygamous life, I wonder which right they are talking about. Do they themselves not represent the very same thing just in a different costume, the sheitel or the hijab?
We must say clearly that the Joint List includes not only the equivalent of Yisrael Beiteinu of the Arab street, in the form of the Arab nationalism of Balad; but also the racist parallel of Habayit Hayehudi in the shape of the Islamic Movement.
There are those in the Israeli left who say that Arab citizens are a discriminated against minority, and therefore they have mitigating circumstances and deserve to receive concessions in the political tests determining the makeup of the legislature. Even if there is some justice in these claims, there are moments when a decent citizen – and it does not matter from what ethnic background – stops accepting the assumption that certain citizens deserve unlimited concessions because of their background.
Here it turns out that the nationalists of Balad, who are fighting with all they have to enter the Knesset and swear loyalty to the “Jewish and democratic” State of Israel, are not willing to sign an agreement with Meretz based on the claim that it is a Zionist party, but when the time comes they embrace the racists from the “Habayit Haislami” (“Islamic Home”) of the Arab street.
Therefore, this is the time to disperse the fog and put everything on the table. I confess that I have never voted for Meretz. I always gave my vote to Hadash. But the time has come to voice a clear and pronounced civil Arab call: If the choice is between a vote that will give Meretz a Knesset seat or a vote that will give another seat to the Arabs from the Joint List who are the counterparts of Habayit Hayehudi or Yisrael Beiteinu, then the proper choice of every responsible citizen is clearly Meretz.
Every vote for Meretz is a sure vote for separating religion and state, for civil equality and equality between the sexes. Every vote for Meretz is a sure vote for social justice, cultural and national justice, freedom of expression and freedom of thought. And above all, every vote for Meretz is a certain vote for the peace we all aspire to. It is impossible to say all these things with certainty about any other party.
That is why, for a sane country and equal citizenship for everyone, I have decided to vote for Meretz.
Published: Haaretz, Mar. 12, 2015
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