The Israeli Election as a Racist Festival

The difference between Benny Gantz and Yitzhak Rabin

As long as things continue to operate along tribal, ethnic and religious lines here, there can be no hope.

Salman Masalha ||

The Israeli Election as a Racist Festival

Ladies and gentlemen, history is repeating itself. The same man who stood on the balcony in Zion Square in November 1995 and incited against Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is currently standing on every possible social media balcony and repeating the same mantra. Back then the rightists, led by this same man, hoarsely shouted that Rabin had no Jewish majority to implement his policy. And all because the Rabin government relied on a blocking majority that included Arab opposition MKs.

Nothing has changed since then. In fact, the situation has gotten worse. The man who came to power in the wake of the Rabin assassination understood how to win a majority in an election and he’s not about to stop betting on the racist winning horse. He might not use the word “Arabs,” since there is still a certain variety of Arab that votes for him. Therefore, his battle cry against the droves of Arabs streaming to the polls boils down to the rhyming slogan: It’s either Bibi or Tibi.

In a racist society that sees every Arab as an “Ahmad,” MK Tibi, whose name really is Ahmad fits the racists like a glove. This evil man, Bibi, who has had Israel in a stranglehold for many years, not leaving it any air to breathe, is not about to change his skin or his racist stripes.

And what is the opposition doing? What is the other Benjamin who heads that opposition and aspires to replace this evil rule doing? He is falling again and again into the same racist pit dug for him by the first Benjamin, and is hastening to disavow any connection and any possibility of cooperation with the “not nice” “Ahmads” of the Joint List. Unlike those who aspire to replace Netanyahu today, Yitzhak Rabin had the moral courage to call a thing by its name. Just a few days before the assassination in Tel Aviv, he said that the demand for a “Jewish majority” was racist.

The current opposition and contenders for the crown have been struck dumb when it comes to any moral pronouncements. Not a single statement of civic and moral value has been heard from them against the racist and divisive campaign of Netanyahu and his evil cohorts.

This being the case, is it even possible to hold a true Israeli civic dialogue? The answer is no. Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid and their gang of generals do not possess the kind of moral integrity one hopes to see in a leader. So they blather on and say nothing of substance in response to the racists’ terrifying appearances.

Therefore Gideon Levy is wrong to think that increasing the power of the Joint List will bring about any change. “Only a major and impressive show of force by Israel’s Arabs will persuade Israel’s Jews that they have no choice but to partner with you,” Levy writes (Haaretz, February 13). “Only a show of force in the election will overcome Zionism,” Levy continues to mislead his Jewish and Arab readers. A show of force? Let’s say the Joint List obtains 15 or even 20 Knesset seats. How will such a result change the racist Zionist reality? It will only strengthen the call for an Arab-free national unity government. You think Zvi Hauser will sit down with the Arabs? Moshe Ya’alon? It’s just another lousy Zionist joke.

As long as things continue to operate along tribal, ethnic and religious lines here, there can be no hope. Only an Israeli party – neither Jewish nor Arab – that puts separation of church and state, and civil equality, at the top of its agenda, will be deserving of the people’s votes.

With much sorrow, we must inform you that no such party yet exists in Israel. Thus the foreseeable future will be no different than the past, or even worse.

Haaretz, 20.2.2020

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