+972 Magazine » +972 Blog http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Tue, 27 Jan 2015 08:55:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 How the joint Arab slate challenges Israel’s discriminatory politics http://972mag.com/how-the-joint-arab-slate-challenges-israels-discriminatory-politics/101841/ http://972mag.com/how-the-joint-arab-slate-challenges-israels-discriminatory-politics/101841/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:53:31 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=101841 For the first time, the Knesset could have a sizable political bloc that is ’100 percent for equality, 100 percent against occupation.’ The joint Arab slate should use this to not only challenge the right-wing’s discriminatory agenda, but to expose the center-left’s distorted idea of democracy. 

By Amjad Iraqi

Last week, the four main political parties representing Palestinian citizens of Israel announced their agreement to run as a joint slate in the upcoming elections. Although there is popular support for the decision, Palestinian citizens are uncertain of what the slate can achieve. Personal conflicts, ideological differences and other disputes will make it difficult for the parties to stay together after the elections. Moreover, its members will still be attacked in the Knesset by right-wing parties such as Likud and Jewish Home, and will likely be ignored by the center-left “Zionist Camp” led by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni.

Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni, December 10, 2014. (Photo by Activestills.org)

‘Zionist Camp’ leader Tzipi Livni, December 10, 2014. (Photo by Activestills.org)

But despite the justified pessimism, a unique opportunity has emerged with the creation of the joint Arab slate. For the first time, the Knesset could have a sizeable political bloc that is “100 percent for equality, 100 percent against occupation.” The four Arab parties have always represented these views, but never as a single body with the potential to control nearly a dozen seats.

This development is significant since it not only challenges the right-wing’s discriminatory agenda, but also exposes the center-left’s distorted idea of democracy in Israel. Many in the international community believe that the “Zionist Camp” will diverge from the racist policies of the right-wing – both in relation to Palestinian citizens of Israel and to the wider Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But this is hardly the case. The discrimination faced by Palestinian citizens, along with the occupation of the Palestinian territories, did not begin when the right-wing came to power. It is a systemic reality born out of Israel’s “Jewish state” mission since 1948, which grants Jews privileges and rights not afforded to non-Jews, while seeking to force indigenous Palestinians to accept their inferior, second-class status.

The center-left has been both an architect and accomplice to this system, including as coalition partners to Netanyahu’s governments in 2009-2012 and 2013-2015. The difference is that while the right-wing wants to make Jewish supremacy more explicit, the center-left conceals it in order to maintain Israel’s democratic image. This is why the center-left will publicly oppose “blatantly racist” legislation proposed by the right-wing, yet endorse subtler laws and government policies that essentially achieve the same objective. The center-left’s idea of democracy thus not only denies the Palestinians’ historical and collective rights in the land, but also contradicts the basic principle of civic equality for its citizens.

Palestinian citizens of Israel demonstrate against the Prawer-Begin Plan, BeerSheva, May 12, 2013 (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Palestinian citizens of Israel demonstrate against the Prawer-Begin Plan, BeerSheva, May 12, 2013 (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

In view of this, the joint Arab slate represents the only multi-party bloc that is unequivocally committed to full equality, the end of the occupation and a just peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These are expressions of the landmark Future Vision Documents (including the Democratic Constitution), which were authored and endorsed by Palestinian citizen politicians, intellectuals, community representatives and civil society members. The slate’s candidates further attest to the bloc’s democratic vision and diverse representation, which includes Arabs and Jews, men and women, Marxists and nationalists, religious and secular, and others.

The joint slate is certainly not without its faults and shortcomings, and it will need to clarify and address many issues in order to play a crucial political role. These include meeting internal communal needs, such as greater representation of Arab women and youth, and external considerations, such as cooperation with parties like Meretz or even the center-left if it were to head the government. The slate would also need to mobilize an increasingly disenchanted Palestinian public to vote, and ensure that their collective interests as a national group are represented upon entering the Knesset.

But the Arab parties can still count their major achievement in the formation of a high-profile coordinated front to challenge the dominant political discourse in Israel, which makes a person’s rights conditional upon their ethno-national identity. If the Israeli electorate fails to recognize the inherently undemocratic and racist nature of that system, then at least it will be clear for the international community to see, and make the joint slate’s work all the more crucial.

Amjad Iraqi is a Projects & Advocacy Coordinator at Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. The views in this article are the author’s own and do not represent Adalah.

More on the united Arab slate:
Arab parties announce joint slate for upcoming election
The Arab parties united? Great, now it’s time to get to work
+972 poll: Joint Arab list would raise voter participation

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Israel won’t become part of the Middle East until the occupation ends http://972mag.com/israel-wont-become-part-of-the-middle-east-until-the-occupation-ends/101856/ http://972mag.com/israel-wont-become-part-of-the-middle-east-until-the-occupation-ends/101856/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:10:09 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=101856 The chance of Israel’s re-admittance to the Middle East lies in its ability to show initiative, originality and flexibility of thought. Only by attempting sincerely to solve the Palestinian problem will it have a chance to become a public and recognized player.

Prof. Elie Podeh

A few months ago, former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni traveled in secret to New York to a meeting attended by the foreign ministers of several Arab countries, Arab League officials and European foreign ministers. The topic of the meeting was the formulation of a regional coalition, or cooperation, against ISIS. Participation of an official Israeli representative of such a call marked a significant achievement in Israel’s foreign policy, and confirms that the post-Arab Spring developments in the region have created an opportunity for Israel to forge new alliances and coalitions with regional actors. Recently, it has been revealed that Foreign Minister Liberman secretly met Arab and Palestinians officials in Paris with the aim of promoting a regional initiative. In light of the diplomatic impasse, this is good news.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (photo: Yotam Ronen / activestills)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Why won’t Israel’s leaders hold public meetings with their Arab counterparts? (photo: Yotam Ronen / activestills)

The bad news is that these exchanges are held in the dark. This once again highlights the fact that Israel is still suffering from a “mistress syndrome” in the Middle East— relations with her must be kept a secret.

Since its existence, Israel has conducted secret contracts with individuals and countries in the Middle East. Common interests led to occasional cooperation, which needed to be hidden so as not to endanger the collaborators. Jordan’s King Abdullah and his grandson King Hussein held many talks with Israeli leaders. Abdullah even paid with his life for secret contacts that almost led to the first ever peace agreement with an Arab country. Even ties in the late 1950s and early 1960s between Israel, Turkey, Iran, Ethiopia and perhaps Sudan—the so-called “Periphery Alliance”—were kept secret.

Cooperation in the 1950s was designed to combat the threat posed to the Middle East by the pan-Arab ideology under the leadership of Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser. Thus, for example, Israel was covertly involved in the Yemeni civil war of the 1960s, in which it helped royalists in their struggle against the republican regime backed by Nasser. Israel also secretly helped the Kurds in Iraq in their fight against the Ba’ath regime in the mid-1960s.

Israel later aided the Maronites in Lebanon, although when that cooperation came to light in the Lebanon War in 1982, the Maronites were alienated. Even the Egyptians and Palestinians held many secret talks with Israeli before any formal agreements were signed. And since publishing of the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, there have been scattered clues of meetings between Israeli and Saudi representatives.

Read: 100 ex-generals tell Bibi to reach peace agreement now

The only period in which Israel managed to escape the “mistress syndrome” was following the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. The decade of the 1990s was a golden age in Israel’s relations with countries in the region; it had diplomatic relations at various levels not only with Egypt and Jordan, but also with Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania and a host of states in the Persian Gulf. Cooperation between Israel and Turkey reached its peak during that time, and a number of regional economic conferences brought public meetings between Israeli and Arab businessmen.

Though there were still many in the Arab world who refused to see Israel as part of the Middle East, the Oslo Accords broke the barrier of fear and allowed many Arabs to have public relations with Israel and Israelis. Yet this positive development was reversed with the failure of the Oslo and the outbreak of the Second Intifada. Israel was then relegated back to its traditional status of the concubine of the Middle East in public.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureates for 1994 in Oslo. (From right to left) Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. October 12, 1994. (Photo by GPO/Ya’acov Sa’ar)

The Nobel Peace Prize laureates for 1994 in Oslo. (From right to left) Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. October 12, 1994. (Photo by GPO/Ya’acov Sa’ar)

Israel has suffered from this syndrome for most of its existence; it dovetailed with the Jewish history of living in the ghetto (in Eastern Europe) or the mellah (in Morocco). However, this is not an act of fate. The history of the Oslo Accords in the 1990s shows that Israel is not doomed to isolation and boycott, but rather that isolation and boycott are also the result of its actions. No progress on the Palestinian problem, the insensitivity shown by the decision-makers in continuing settlement activity, and particularly the rejection of the Arab Peace Initiative – all these actions damage Israel interests in the Middle East.

The chance of Israel’s re-admittance to the Middle East lies in its ability to show initiative, originality and flexibility of thought. Only by attempting sincerely to solve the Palestinian problem will Israel have a chance to become a public and recognized player. It is unclear how Balaam’s biblical curse, “They are a people that shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:9) has become the motto of so many in Israel. A more worthy motto comes from Israel’s second Prime Minister, Moshe Sharett, who said that “Israel shall not be a people that dwells alone, not in the Middle East and not among the nations of the world.” This should be the guiding light of Israeli policy-makers.

Professor Podeh teaches in the Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies Department at the Hebrew University, and is a Board Member at Mitvim – The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies. A Hebrew version of this article first appeared in Haaretz

Related:
The hand that holds the status quo together
Security Council’s election message to Israelis: Keep ignoring the occupation

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The Arab parties united? Great, now it’s time to get to work http://972mag.com/the-arab-parties-united-great-now-its-time-to-get-to-work/101766/ http://972mag.com/the-arab-parties-united-great-now-its-time-to-get-to-work/101766/#comments Sat, 24 Jan 2015 15:44:59 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=101766 After a great deal of work, the joint Arab election slate has finally come into fruition. But what does the list say about the place of women in Arab politics? Who proved himself to be the real leader of the group? And what can the Arab public do now?

By Samah Salaime Egbariya

Members of newly announced "United List" of Arab parties in Israel ahead of March 17, 2015 election Photo: Courtesy Balad)

Members of newly announced “United List” of Arab parties in Israel ahead of March 17, 2015 election Photo: Courtesy Balad)

You know that joke about how Arabs can’t agree about anything but the fact that they disagree about everything? Well, it is officially no longer relevant!

With the looming elections and the raising of the electoral threshold, Israel’s Arab population went into a long state of difficult contractions. A group of talented gynecologists, nicknamed the “agreement committee,” were appointed to bridge the gaps between the Arab parties and worked without a midwife, trying everything they could in order to birth to a united election slate.

Let’s just say it was a vacuum delivery, and that the committee was resigned to do it forcefully. But why ruin our most joyous occasions? The main thing is that the list was born and that Arab society is now recuperating from a difficult birth. The decision over which MKs will receive ministerial portfolios (should it ever come to that) could bring about a world war, so we’ll set aside these issues for a different time.

For now let us read between the lines of the agreement, which was disseminated across social media outlets and was signed by all the respectable men present during the negotiations. The agreement, which is similar to Israel’s Declaration of Independence with its colorful signatures, was sent out alongside a photo of tie-wearing men straight out of Kafr Kara. What do we see in this new list?

1. Women

Representation of Arab women in the next Knesset will double. To two. It all sounds much nicer when we look at it in terms of percentages: a 100 percent increase in Arab women in the Knesset! Ahmed Tibi’s Ta’al faction started acting like a proper political party and struggled to get one of its own women into the list — a healthy change. As a result, perhaps there will be two-and-a-half women in the following Knesset — an increase of 150 percent.

MK Haneen Zoabi tries to enter the Aqsa Mosque via the Lions’ Gate, October 15, 2014. Police eventually let her and other members of Knesset enter. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

MK Haneen Zoabi tries to enter the Aqsa Mosque via the Lions’ Gate, October 15, 2014. Police eventually let her and other members of Knesset enter. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

I believe that the Islamic Movement must also meet this demand in the future, and struggle with itself over women’s representation. If this change actually takes place, then the united slate will be truly justified.

2. Half and half

If we have already discussed the half-seat reserved for a woman from Ta’al, we may as well talk about the fact that the list is full of all types of “halves”: one seat is divided into two halves – half for Hadash and half for Balad. Two seats are divided between Ta’al and the Islamic Movement. The genius who opened this falafel stand and suggested half a meal to the parties with any toppings it wants — half Bedouin, half Druze, half woman and half educated — that person, who had no other choice but to prevent a disaster, deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. I suggest adding this person to the peace talks that aren’t taking place between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Maybe that will push things forward.

The only thing that is lacking in this agreement is understanding the possibility that the Knesset will only make it halfway through its term. What will happen if the other half of the Arab candidates don’t make it into the parliament? It wasn’t very long ago that Hadash’s Nabila Espanioly was promised that she would replace former party head Mohammad Barakeh. And what happened? Today we have no Nabila and no Barakeh.

3. Tests of leadership

Ayman Odeh is starting his career with a passing grade in his first test of leadership. He is new and young, and had reservations about uniting the Arab parties. However, Odeh did not give in to the pressure to forgo his chance for the Hadash party leadership against Barakeh, and after winning he pushed the party committee to throw its support behind the united slate.

Ra'am-Ta'al MK Ahmed Tibi. (photo: Activestills.org)

But the person who really deserves the best grade is Ahmad Tibi, who did not have an easy time throughout this process. Every single poll showed that Tibi had, by far, the most public support to lead the slate. And not only that: after Barakeh (actually) retired, Tibi was the only candidate who could fit the bill. The fact that Tibi was given the fourth slot, and while two half-seats were given to his party further down the list, shows that he can put aside his ego and make a responsible decision for the sake of this historic moment — two qualities that one doesn’t generally see in politics, let alone in Israel’s Arab society.

4. The limits of Arab politics

The announcement of the united slate left out several parties and groups. This is a clear statement from the parties elected to the last Knesset: we are the legitimate parties, there is no room for others. These others include supporters of Taleb Al-Sana (Mada), representatives of the mixed Jewish-Arab cities, academics, representatives of Nasrati (the party of Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam) and others. The parties tell us: whomever wants to be elected to the Knesset must find her or his place in one of these four parties, and start working hard from now on.

5. Mobilizing the public

We have a lot to learn from the establishment of the united slate, both as a society and as a minority. We can learn about the connection between leadership and the people, between the minority and the majority, between men and women, academics and public figures, between the religious and the secular, etc. We have passed the first stage of working together and lived to tell the tale. Now let’s get off of the living room sofa and smartphones and get involved.

Samah Salaime Egbariya is a social worker, a director of AWC (Arab Women in the Center) in Lod and a graduate of the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem. This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

Related:
Arab parties announce joint slate for upcoming election
+972 poll: Joint Arab list would raise voter participation

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Arab parties likely to announce historic joint election slate in coming days http://972mag.com/arab-parties-likely-to-announce-historic-unity-list-in-coming-days/101688/ http://972mag.com/arab-parties-likely-to-announce-historic-unity-list-in-coming-days/101688/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 17:54:34 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=101688 Islamists, Marxists, women and Jews: The Arab parties have done the seemingly impossible and are likely announce a united election slate in the coming days.

By Yael Marom and Nadav Frankovich

Ra’am-Ta’al MK Ahmed Tibi. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israel’s Arab parties are expected to announce the formation of a combined election slate in the lead-up to the upcoming elections. The slate, which will group Ra’am, Balad, Hadash and Ta’al into one party (without formally merging), has been named “The United List,” and is set to include secular, religious, female and Jewish politicians.

While the different Arab parties have historically run separately, a law spearheaded last year by Avigdor Liberman and Yair Lapid raised the election threshold to 3.25 percent (four seats), and has effectively forced the parties to consider joining forces in order to remain relevant. The new threshold has sparked a fierce debate about the possibility of giving an equal voice to all sectors of the Arab population, as well as the inclusion of Hadash’s Jewish members.

According to +972 Magazine’s sister site, Local Call, which spoke to several sources, the list will likely headed by Hadash’s Ayman Odeh, who was elected party chairman last week, followed by Masud Ghnaim of the Islamist Ra’am and Balad’s Jamal Zahalka in third place. Ahmed Tibi (Ta’al) will take the fourth place, followed by Aida Touma-Sliman from Hadash.

Read: Joint Arab list would raise voter participation, +972 poll shows

Abdel Hakim Haj Yahia (Ra’am) will take the sixth place, and Hanin Zoabi (Balad) will be placed number seven. Eighth place will go to Hadash’s Dov Khenin, the only Jewish member of the slate who is likely to be elected, followed by Ra’am’s Taleb Abu Arar.

The biggest controversy is between Balad and Hadash over spots 10 and 11 (between Balad’s Basel Ghattas and Yousef Jabareen from Hadash), and places 13-14 (Jum’a Azbarga from Balad or Abdullah Abu-Ma’arouf from Hadash). Furthermore, spots 12 and 15 have yet to be decided between representatives of Ra’am and Ta’al.

Hadash's new party chairman, Ayman Odeh. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Hadash’s new party chairman, Ayman Odeh, along with the party’s second in command, Aida Touma-Sliman. What kind of compromises will Hadash have to make as part of a united list? (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Should the parties join forces, the United List faces will likely face several challenges, including whether to remain together after the elections, as well as working together on the campaign and the ability to appeal to different groups within Israel’s Arab population. Despite the difficulties, it seems that Arab citizens are united in their desire to see a united list. According to a recent +972 poll, nearly 70 percent of Arabs citizens intend to vote if the three existing Arab parties run on a joint list, compared to 56 percent who voted in the 2013 elections, a new +972 poll found.

The parties began negotiations over the past dew days, after both Balad and Hadash elected their individual slates. The violent events in the Bedouin city Rahat, where two residents were killed by police, and the protests that came in their wake had an effect on the negotiations.

Read: Should a joint Arab list trump Jewish-Arab unity? Not so fast

Balad MK Bassel Ghattes, who heads his faction’s negotiating team, told Local Call: “We have taken the road that leads to a united list, and I believe things will be finalized in the coming days.” Ghattes also gave an update on the state of negotiations:

On Tuesday night we held a crucial meeting with all the parties, along with the agreement committee, which is made up of different public figures from all walks of life who decided to assist and take part in the negotiation process. Each party, without exception, agreed to give the committee the right to decide on contested issues.”

Regarding the conflicts between the different parties, Gattes explained:

The biggest conflict is the question of dividing the 12th and 15th seats designated for Ra’am-Ta’al (which ran as a joint list in the previous several elections) between the two factions. The committee will decide on the issue, but it is assumed that Tibi’s Ta’al party will get the 12th seat.

Two of the smaller conflicts stem from Hadash’s demand to reorganize the order of seats 10 through 14 with Balad. We in Balad did not think we needed to give up on these seats, but we will accept whatever the committee decides. In any case, it will not prevent a united list, which at this point is nearly a done deal.

In an interview with the Arabs48 website, committee head Muhammad Taha Ali said that aside from several minor issues, the factions are in agreement regarding all the important issues, emphasizing that “no party has any interest in torpedoing the talks. Everyone is giving their all so that we can declare a united list; it is at the top of every party’s list of priorities, and each one has given its consent to and trusts the committee to bring an end to the negotiations and declare a list.”

Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article was originally published in Hebrew.

 Nadav Franckovich is a translator and Arabic teacher.

Related:
Why won’t the Arab parties just unite already?
+972 poll: Joint Arab list would raise voter participation

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The importance of being earnest about human rights http://972mag.com/the-importance-of-being-earnest-about-human-rights/101683/ http://972mag.com/the-importance-of-being-earnest-about-human-rights/101683/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:34:26 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=101683 In an open letter, one of Israel’s foremost refugee rights lawyers calls on the deputy attorney general to follow her conscience.

By Asaf Weitzen

Thousands of African asylum seekers leave Holot detention center without intention to come, June 25, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Thousands of African asylum seekers leave Holot detention center without intention to come, June 25, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Dear Deputy Attorney General Dina Silber:

I am familiar with a bit of your academic work, including two books you authored and speeches that you give from time to time. You have demonstrated a deep commitment to basic rights and an understanding that the any government must be checked if and when it seeks to infringe upon basic rights. What I find incomprehensible is the disparity between those views and your intensive involvement in legislating the amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Act. Hence this letter. Due to the importance of the issue at stake and its relevance to the public, I feel that it should be published and I would appreciate the publication of your response to it as well.

I am not trying to convince you that you are perpetrating an injustice. I am not calling on you to “refuse.” I am only asking you to help me understand. To reveal what it is that allows you to work with such devotion and intensity on the legislation of an additional amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Act. How do you remain so devoted to a law that translates into the continued deprivation of liberty, all while doing nothing for overburdened neighborhoods like south Tel Aviv that have high concentrations of asylum seekers and other non-deportable foreigners.

I make three basic assumptions in this letter. The first assumption is that you have freedom of choice and that you would not pay a catastrophic personal price should you refuse to take part in the legislative process. The second assumption is that you believe the denial of liberty from the innocent and harmless should be a last resort, and that every man and woman has a right to weave his or her own life story. In other words, I assume that if it were up to you, the phenomenon of unauthorized entry into the country — which has all but stopped — were to be addressed entirely differently than the current law, with its imprisonment and exclusionary mechanisms, and the tremendous cost of holding so many people in detention facilities. The third assumption is that you have read the High Court judgments that struck down two previous amendments to the law, and that you are aware of the existence of other solutions to the challenges it sought to address — those relating to the continued presence of non-deportable foreigners in our country.

For example, one such solution is reducing the number of foreign workers who are brought to Israel. Another is to improve the process of examining asylum requests and increase compliance with international standards (so that the recognition rate for asylum seekers who fled the genocide in Darfur, for example, might be higher than zero, as it is today). Rather than invest in detention centers, the state could incentivize the geographic dispersal of asylum seekers throughout the country and invest in the disadvantaged south Tel Aviv neighborhoods that bear the burden.

African asylum seekers wake up in Levinsky Park, South Tel Aviv, on the second day of a sit-in after spending the night on the ground, February 3, 2013. The African community is continuing its struggle for refugee rights, determined to reach a full solution. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

African asylum seekers wake up in Levinsky Park, South Tel Aviv, on the second day of a sit-in after spending the night on the ground, February 3, 2013. The African community is continuing its struggle for refugee rights, determined to reach a full solution. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

I suppose that if I were in your position and was being asked similar questions, I would explain the difference between elected officials and civil servants. You are a civil servant, and it is your job to assist elected officials in implementing their policies within the framework of the law, not to dictate policies according to your own worldview. After all, a state where civil servants dictate how to act to elected officials is not a democracy.

You might have added that if you weren’t the one doing it, somebody else would. And that other person would almost certainly be much less sensitive to human rights and not as steadfast in their adherence to the relevant Supreme Court rulings. It is also possible that if you were not the gatekeeper, more far-reaching and egregious constitutional changes seeking to dramatically weaken the Supreme Court would be implemented, consequently worsening the human rights situation for both citizens and foreigners alike. In fact, such threats are being made today more than ever and, indeed, you are there to stand in their way. Those are the facts.

Moreover, you might argue that our lives – professional and otherwise – are made up of tradeoffs and compromises. It is only by making compromises that you can have a humanistic and liberal worldview that empowers disadvantaged populations and other marginalized groups. For example, you recently reversed a decision that would have prevented B’Tselem from employing youths performing national service, and in an opinion piece in Haaretz, you wrote about the various effects of excluding women from the public sphere, as part of your role as “supervisor for implementing the report on preventing the exclusion of women.”

African asylum seekers jailed in the Holot detention center protest behind the prison's fence, as other asylum seekers take part in a protest outside the facility in Israel's Negev desert, February 17, 2014. (Photo by Activestills.org)

African asylum seekers jailed in the Holot detention center protest behind the prison’s fence, as other asylum seekers take part in a protest outside the facility in Israel’s Negev desert, February 17, 2014. (Photo by Activestills.org)

If you were to argue all of the above, I’m afraid I wouldn’t know how to rebut. I, too, believe that the fifth amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Act would be legislated with or without you; I am willing to assume that you are making considerable efforts to mitigate the harm Gideon Sa’ar and his friends are trying to inflict upon Israeli legal system and asylum seekers in particular. Indeed, life is often a game of compromise in an endless chain of means and ends. Maybe you being there is one way to achieve a less harmful law.

If those were your arguments, you would win our imaginary debate. But in that victory, the true failure would reveal itself. Because a political system and a moral worldview that is constantly deal with the means and the ends by which we achieve them, push aside what can only be called justice.

It is an injustice that Mutasim Ali is in the Holot detention center, while his asylum case has languished for more than two years.

Mutasim Ali says goodbye to friends before being driven to Holot. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Mutasim Ali says goodbye to friends before being driven to Holot. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

It is not just that a man whose only crime is surviving genocide in Darfur be held in jail for two-and-a-half years. It is not just that an asylum seeker whose application is not being processed is held in a prison facility (referred to as an “open” camp). It is not just that a man is sent to jail for an indefinite amount of time because he does not have a receipt for his bicycle. Above all, it is not just that Israel has the lowest rate of refugee recognition in the world and the longest periods of incarceration. There is not an iota of justice in incarcerating people without trial and without them having broken the law. When this is the state of affairs, it really doesn’t matter how much worse it could have been without you.

When one of us legitimizes these injustices and many other evils, and when it is done knowingly, after the High Court has already twice nullified similar legislation, the world we share loses one of its fundamental foundations: words and deeds are detached from one another. Perhaps refusing to take part in legislating the law wouldn’t make a difference in the end, but nonetheless, because of what is at stake, it is ever so critical.

Since your actions prove that you disagree with me on this, I would appreciate a response to my letter. If not for the asylum seekers then at least for the Israeli public, which, I believe, we both care for.

Sincerely,
Asaf Weitzen

* * *

Epilogue: This letter was published in in Hebrew in Haaretz on November 3, 2014. The response came in the form of the anticipated new amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law, this time allowing the imprisonment of asylum seekers for a three-month period, followed by another 20 months in the Holot facility. A High Court petition was submitted a day after the law was published and the hearing is scheduled for February 3, 2015. I hope that the Supreme Court will give us all another chance to be human and to rid ourselves of the shame our treatment of asylum seekers brings upon us. After all, as Salman Rushdie once wrote: “Shame is like everything else; live with it for long enough and it becomes part of the furniture.”

Asaf Weitzen is the head of the legal department at the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, an Israeli human rights NGO that promotes the rights of asylum-seekers, migrants and human trafficking victims.

Related:
The origins and politics of Israel’s refugee debate
Asylum seekers to stay in prison while Israelis hit the polls
How jailed asylum seekers are taking over Israeli Facebook feeds

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Why EU recognition of Palestine isn’t enough http://972mag.com/why-eu-recognition-of-palestine-isnt-enough/101665/ http://972mag.com/why-eu-recognition-of-palestine-isnt-enough/101665/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 18:08:22 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=101665 If the European Union wants to play a more active role in Israel-Palestine peacemaking it should first articulate a common policy and decide whether it can continue playing second fiddle to Washington.

By Charalampos Tsitsopoulos

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, July 11, 2014. (EU Photo)

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, July 11, 2014. (EU Photo)

Much has been made of recent European initiatives to symbolically recognize a Palestinian state in pre-1967 borders. On December 17, 2014, a European Parliament resolution supported “in principle recognition of Palestinian statehood.” The move followed similar resolutions in individual European parliaments in previous months. Meanwhile, there was no shortage of commendation for European recognitions, welcomed by the Arab League as a measure that will “undoubtedly put pressure” on Israel.

While far from speaking with one voice, the Europeans at least seemed to agree on basic common denominators for their regional policies, something no shortage of observers have described as vital if Europe is to advance stability in the region. Articulating coordinated policies would also signify something else: that Europe has come a long way from its eternal policy of playing ‘second fiddle’ to the United States.

Yet, hailing Europe’s supposed resurrection ignores the deeper question of the efficiency and impact of its actions. Are Europe’s recent initiatives a renewed push for bolstering the resolution of the conflict? Have Europeans calculated the potential impact their actions have on regional stakeholders? Or are these merely a fig leaf meant to conceal the absence of true progress in Israel/Palestine? It would be hard to ignore the latter. And here is why:

Europe’s approach does not seem to be particularly nuanced. Had it wished to play a constructive role in the region, it could have formulated a clear objective and a strategy for achieving it. True, the EU Parliament resolution talks about two states living side by side in security and under international law. But this in itself is simply a repetition of what every institution and individual hoping for a two-state solution has said for decades: one could hardly be accused of pedantry for expecting a more sophisticated approach from the EU. For example, the Resolution calls settlements “illegal under international law”. That’s hardly a surprise. But what exactly is it proposing?

A look at recent policy pronouncements shows that the EU rarely hesitates before throwing its weight behind policies and proposals that appear even slightly tenable. For example, it sanguinely supported John Kerry’s peace before the details of his plan were revealed to anyone. They were eventually leaked to Israeli journalist Nahum Barnea.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini,September 26, 2014. (State Dept Photo)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini,September 26, 2014. (State Dept Photo)

The EU’s efficiency is consistently beset by its lack of a clear vision for the region, manifested recently when its member states could not form a united policy in the Geneva II negotiations on Syria. In addition, the union hasn’t taken a clear stand as Russia turns to EU-hopeful Turkey as the former attempts to expand alternative markets to mitigate the EU sanctions it’s facing.

Others speculate that the EU is merely playing subcontractor for the US. Faced with an increasingly intransigent Prime Minister Netanyahu, the U.S. is presumed by some to have turned to the EU, Israel’s chief trading partner, as an alternative channel for exerting pressure. But that is not an appropriate strategy, according to Israeli journalist Michael Karpin, who believes it would be better for the EU to stay away from the driver’s seat. And with US peace initiatives stalled once again, why would anybody put money on an identical initiative put forth by the Europeans?

In addition, when it comes to the Middle East/Mediterranean, the EU suffers from a significant communication deficit. It has consistently failed to clearly get its messages across to regional populations. For example, an “unprecedented” package offered to both Israelis and Palestinians in December 2013 in exchange for a peace agreement went unnoticed by 86 percent of Israelis. When compounded with the fact that there has been no EU Middle East envoy since January 2014, the sense of dissonance between how and what the EU is seeking in Israel is amplified. Israelis have a growing perception that Europe is obsessed with their country, with some even viewing it as hostile and naively oblivious to the region’s dangers.

Finally, and most importantly, the Palestinian leadership does not have a common state-building agenda behind which the EU can throw its weight. While Gaza is nominally under the control of a technocratic reconciliation government, Hamas is still in charge of security and has dismissed laying down its arms as nonsensical. The group has come out against Abbas’ recent efforts at the UN in the harshest terms. And if the stalled UN-supervised Gaza reconstruction effort does not get under way soon, another round of violence may not be far off.

To say that Europe is bracing for a more active role in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict stretches credulity. And if it is going in that direction, a clear articulation of the union’s goals in the region would be more than welcome. But a blurred geopolitical outlook, diverging priorities and deference to the U.S. on core issues will not put the EU on a path to advancing or taking part in any brokered conciliation.

Charalampos Tsitsopoulos is a freelance journalist writing on the Eastern Mediterranean. He holds a BA in Communications from the University of Athens, Greece and an MSc in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the University  of Edinburgh, UK. He can be reached at c.tsitsopoulos@gmail.com

Related:
Israeli petition to European lawmakers: Recognize Palestine
How EU money enables the occupation
Is Eastern Europe the next front for fighting the occupation?

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Netanyahu blames Abbas for Tel Aviv stabbing attack http://972mag.com/netanyahu-blames-mahmoud-abbas-for-tel-aviv-stabbing-attack/101655/ http://972mag.com/netanyahu-blames-mahmoud-abbas-for-tel-aviv-stabbing-attack/101655/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 09:49:11 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=101655 Palestinian man boards public bus during rush hour, stabbing at least 10 before being shot in the leg and apprehended.

Photos by Oren Ziv, Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org

Medics treat a victim of a stabbing attack on a Tel Aviv bus line, January 21, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Medics treat a victim of a stabbing attack on a Tel Aviv bus line, January 21, 2015. (Activestills.org)

A Palestinian man from Tulkarm stabbed at least 10 people on a public bus in Tel Aviv Wednesday morning. Three of them were in serious wounded, four moderately.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu placed blame for the attack on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, saying that it “is the direct result of the poisonous incitement being disseminated by the Palestinian Authority against the Jews and their state.”

“[Abbas] is responsible for both the incitement and the dangerous move at the ICC in the Hague,” he added.

Just after 7 a.m., during rush hour, the 23-year-old from Tulkarm boarded public a bus on Begin Road, a major thoroughfare in the city. He reportedly starting stabbing the driver and other passengers before fleeing.

An Israel Prison Service officer who happened to be nearby shot him in the leg and apprehended him.

Israeli police evacuate the Palestinian suspect in a bus stabbing, whom an Israel Prison Service officer shot in the leg and apprehended. (Photo by Activestills.org)

Israeli police evacuate the Palestinian suspect in a bus stabbing, whom an Israel Prison Service officer shot in the leg and apprehended. (Photo by Activestills.org)

Several months ago there was a string of deadly of stabbing and vehicular attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces, culminating with a terror attack in a Jerusalem synagogue.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu placed blame for the attack on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, saying that it “is the direct result of the poisonous incitement being disseminated by the Palestinian Authority against the Jews and their state.”

Related:

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Is Eastern Europe the next front for fighting the occupation? http://972mag.com/is-eastern-europe-the-next-front-for-fighting-the-occupation/101498/ http://972mag.com/is-eastern-europe-the-next-front-for-fighting-the-occupation/101498/#comments Sun, 18 Jan 2015 17:47:13 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=101498 While Israel’s behavior has managed to antagonize many European countries, some former Soviet states have yet to take a stand against the occupation. That may just change soon enough.

By Inna Michaeli

Israeli Foreign Minister and chairman of Israel Beitenu, Avigdor Lieberman (photo: Israel IMFA / flickr)

Israeli Foreign Minister and chairman of Israel Beitenu, Avigdor Lieberman (photo: Israel IMFA / flickr)

The vile and repugnant behavior of Avigdor Liberman and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs toward Sweden (one of my favorite countries) has re-lit a spark of optimism. At least among those of us who hope that international pressure will force Israel to end the occupation.

When it comes to international relations it isn’t the human rights violations or war crimes that cause antagonism toward Israel. Rather, it is the use of tactics such as “defense is the best offense” and representatives such as Liberman that do the trick. But the journey from interpersonal hostility to sanctions is long, much like the journey from headline-making political theater to actual change in policy. It seems, however, like those roots are being firmly planted.

Four years ago I traveled to Brussels for a series of meetings at the European Union as part of my previous job with Coalition of Women for Peace. It was a year after Liberman was appointed foreign minister. During that year, he not only managed to cause the entire EU leadership to hate him, he also brought up fond memories of his predecessor, Tzipi Livni.

Pearl of wisdom #1: Diplomatic work is superficial

It doesn’t matter that as part of her job Livni worked to whitewash mass killings during the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. For her European colleagues, Livni was far easier to work with. Liberman’s macho chic, not to mention his caveman style, was less successful.

Understanding the goings-on in the corridors of the European Union is like an allegory for understanding art history. In art history, one learns a lot about the gossipy relationships between the different artists. The EU gives similar weight to interpersonal relationships, and its agenda is affected by fads. Truly, it’s all very tiring.

So what is the positive side of it all? Israeli behavior leads to antagonism against it, mostly due to a series of personal and national attacks.

Pearl of wisdom #2: Your political opinions don’t matter, and no one likes feeling like an idiot

I met diplomats from the EU’s “new member states” – Central and Eastern European countries with a socialist past that were allowed to join in 2004 and 2007. They include Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and the Baltic states. Calling them the “new member states” is actually a bit insulting: they are technically included in the European Union, but no one really cares about them. However, in the case of Israel they actually carry some weight, especially since they typically refrain from criticizing Israeli policy, and are forgiving toward its violations of human rights and international law.

When I spoke to them, representatives of these states tended to repeat the Foreign Ministry’s hasbara talking points word for word: Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, Arabs in Israel are awarded full equality, as opposed to oppressed Jews in Arab countries, etc. They were surprised to learn that there is a long list of laws that discriminate against Israel’s Arab population. I saw my interlocutor change colors before my eyes, especially when he realized that he was being fed lies that are easily debunked. It doesn’t feel so good to realize that you have been the victim of propaganda – that you truly believed in a bunch of lies.

I discovered that Central and Eastern European countries are a goldmine for anti-occupation activities.

However, the limits of language and the lack of resources have prevented activists from reaching and prioritizing them. This makes them more vulnerable to the hasbara industry. An additional problem is that those states, which are still growing out of the ashes of socialism, are still trying to put together their own agendas and are therefore less inclined to deal with international affairs. These states barely have any Palestine solidarity movements.

However, their policies toward Israel/Palestine have little to do with strategic interests, but rather with sentimental and historical ties (such as pushback against the Soviet-style politics of the 20th century), as well as a position that they choose to adopt in the face of stronger member states. In other words, these countries are full of potential for activism.

I very much hope that we take our struggle in this direction as well.

Inna Michaeli is a feminist activist and a PhD student of Sociology at the Humboldt University of Berlin. This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here

Related:
This election, Liberman’s racism is going mainstream
Liberman’s de-patriation plan of illusions

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In Tunisia, Muslims and Jews come together to honor Paris victim http://972mag.com/in-tunisia-muslims-and-jews-come-together-to-honor-paris-victim/101486/ http://972mag.com/in-tunisia-muslims-and-jews-come-together-to-honor-paris-victim/101486/#comments Sun, 18 Jan 2015 15:14:35 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=101486 A vigil in honor of Yoav Hattab, who was killed in the terrorist attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris, brought together Tunisians of all faiths to Tunis’ Grand Synagogue. Together they formed a united against all forms of terrorism and extremism.

By Houda Mzioudet

TUNIS — Approximately 200 people gathered Saturday night at the Grand Synagogue in Tunis to pay tribute to Yoav Hattab, the young Tunisian Jew who was killed in the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris last week. The crowd, which was comprised of different religious groups and nationalities, lit candles in honor of Hattab, sang the Tunisian national anthem and chanted “Viva Tunisia!”

A Muslim woman and her daughter attend the vigil in honor of Yoav Hattab, Tunis, January 17, 2015. (photo: Houda Mzioudet)

A Muslim woman and her daughter attend the vigil in honor of Yoav Hattab, Tunis, January 17, 2015. (photo: Salma Jarad)

Both local and international media outlets were present at the event, which included renowned academics, Tunisian Jews from across the country and even several foreign embassy employees. The Grand Synagogue is located in Tunis’ Lafayette neighborhood, home to Tunisia’s Jewish community, where Hattab is remembered for attending Shabbat services on a regular basis. His family did not attend the vigil, as they are still mourning in Jerusalem, where Hattab was buried.

One Tunisian Jew paid tribute to those who died defending the Tunisian state – especially the soldiers who were killed by Islamist militants in the Chaambi Mountains near the Algerian border in July 2014. Hattab also died trying to defend hostages during Amedy Coulibaly’s attack on the Hypercacher store in Paris.

“They were were not only martyrs – they should be elevated to the status of saints,” said the man. “Charlie Hebdo cartoonists such as George Wolinski and Elsa Cayat, who died from the terrorist’s bullets, were also Tunisian. Some of the four Jews who died in the kosher market were of Tunisian origin, including Yoav,” he added.

Tsion Cohen, 22, from Djerba attended the vigil to honor Hattab and show support to his family and friends. “We are like a family,” he said, “We wanted to show that Tunisia is the land of all faiths, to show that Tunisians are all brothers – be they Muslims, Jews, Christians or atheists.”

Cohen admitted that although extremists have tried to create divisions between Muslims and Jews in Tunisia, it has not undermined the Jewish community’s feeling of belonging. “I do not think that extremists can become stronger in Tunisia, because the Tunisian flag is what unites us and is above all these divisions,” he said with confidence.

Regarding the controversy surrounding Hattab’s burial in Jersualem, Cohen expressed that he, like most Tunisian Jews, hoped that Hattab would be buried in his home country, and that he does know the reasons behind the decision. ”Whether he is buried in Tunisia or Israel, Yoav remains in our heart,” Cohen stressed.

Tunisians march in front of Tunis' Grand Synagogue (left), mourners light candles during a Tunis vigil to honor Yoav Hattab. (photos: Houda Mzioudet)

Tunisians march in front of Tunis’ Grand Synagogue (left), mourners light candles during a Tunis vigil to honor Yoav Hattab. (photos: Houda Mzioudet)

The vigil was organized along with the Tunisian Association for the Support of Minorities, whose president, Yamina Thabet, stressed the fact that Tunisian Jews are part and parcel of Tunisia (the association is also organizing a ceremony in remembrance of Hattab at Hotel Africa on January 18). The mobilization of Tunisian civil society comes in response to the utter failure of the government to commemorate Hattab. Nidaa Tounes, the current ruling party, and specifically President Béji Caid-Essebsi, did not officially condemn the terrorist attack. Only the moderate Islamist Ennahdha party sent its condolences to Hattab’s family, issuing a condemnation of the attack and expressing its grief at the loss of their son.

Those present at the vigil agreed that terrorism is able to strike anyone, making no distinction between people. “Some died because they were Jews – others died because they fought for freedom of expression,” said one of the Tunisian organizers to the crowd, emphasizing that it is incumbent on everyone to condemn any support or sympathy for criminals and their crimes against innocent people. “We are here to pay tribute to those who were killed by hatred,” she added.

Houda Mzioudet is a Tunisian journalist. This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here

Related:
Paris victim Yoav Hattab died a Tunisian patriot
The real reason Bibi wants French Jews to move to Israel

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This election, Liberman’s racism is going mainstream http://972mag.com/this-election-libermans-racism-is-going-mainstream/101456/ http://972mag.com/this-election-libermans-racism-is-going-mainstream/101456/#comments Sat, 17 Jan 2015 16:42:55 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=101456 Liberman launched his election campaign under the slogan ‘Ariel to Israel, Umm al-Fahm to Palestine,’ once again signaling his willingness to expel Palestinian citizens from the country. The only difference? This time around he is being flagged as a moderate.

By Samah Salaime Egbariya

Avigdor Liberman speaks at the campaign launch for the upcoming elections. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills)

Avigdor Liberman speaks at the campaign launch for the upcoming elections. One of the campaign slogans reads “Ariel to Israel, Umm al-Fahm to Palestine.” (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills)

Every time Avigdor Liberman opens his mouth to speak, one can smell hate and fear-mongering. In a speech during his election campaign launch Thursday morning, Liberman went a step further in his racist and inciting speech against Israel’s Arab citizens.

While his Yisrael Beiteinu party is being investigated for a major corruption scandal, Liberman is pulling out his most powerful weapon – one that always works in catching the attention of both the Left and the Right (assuming there is such a thing in Israel): attacking the Arabs, threatening in the most obscene way to harm their lives, security and rights to their land.

Once again he pulls the rabbit out of the hat: “population exchange.” Again? Yes, again and again. And this time, like all the other times, the idea that once seemed so out of touch is beginning to permeate into the political “center.” It goes something like this: Liberman lets fly another crazy idea into the political ether, repeats it at any given opportunity, forcing citizens and the media alike to play around with it. At a certain point they start to discuss it as a serious possibility. “Moving Umm al-Fahm to Palestine.” Slowly but surely the idea sounds like it is becoming more acceptable and possible. It is a classically racist plan whose goal is to erase, demonize and take whatever rights are left to the oppressed minority. Time after time it’s the same message: transfer, population exchange, expelling the local population, loyalty oaths and more.

Liberman is thus crowning himself as the expert on discrimination and violence. He demands the expulsion of Arabs from Wadi Ara in Israel’s north, as well as from everywhere else, while continuing to fan the flames of war in the occupied territories. He is not willing to see the Palestinians who were born here – and have been here for generations – as deserving of rights to their land. Their land was occupied, most were expelled, and in their stead came Jews from across the world. Liberman himself only arrived here in 1978, but in his eyes Palestinians such as myself, who were born here and became second-class citizens in the Jewish people’s democratic and moral state, need to continue and search for the way toward peace by themselves. Without him.

Liberman staunchly opposes any progress toward an agreement with the Palestinians. To his credit, it must be said that he has quit every coalition he has been a part of for one of two reasons: progress toward a peace deal, or due to investigations against him. In 1997 he quit due to an investigation; in 2001 he left along with Rehavam Ze’evi after Israel returned the Abu Snina neighborhood of Hebron to the Palestinians; in 2002 he left Sharon’s government; in 2004 he was fired in the wake of the disengagement from Gaza; in 2008 he quit due to the negotiations with the Palestinians over core issues; and in 2012 he left due to the Belarus ambassador affair.

If you ask Liberman, there is no solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict – war and power are the name of the game – this is the fate of all Jews who come to this part of the world. He has a hard time admitting to the failures of 1948, when the job wasn’t finished and “Arabs” still remained in the country. In such a reality, the only thing that Liberman believes is left to do is to continue occupying the West Bank, tighten the stranglehold on Gaza forever, feed the cancerous settlement enterprise and swallow the Palestinians inside Israel until they disappear.

Let’s put aside the worrying fact that a party like Yisrael Beiteinu even exists in Israel. Any party in France or Germany, whose main goal was to throw out all the Jews to Israel in a population exchange, or even to segregate all the Jews in one big city (a ghetto, perhaps), would not survive the tidal wave of condemnations from both the Jewish and international community.

Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog announce a joint slate for the upcoming elections, December 10, 2014. (Photo by Activestills.org)

Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog announce a joint slate for the upcoming elections, December 10, 2014. (Photo by Activestills.org)

But we can put this aside for a second, since Israel’s Arab citizens have long ago developed a kind of immunity to these phenomenons over the course of 65 years. What is truly worrisome is the fact that this party has started to crawl leftwards. All of a sudden Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog’s “Zionist Camp” is talking peace, and Liberman has become a potential coalition partner in the next government – the “anyone but Bibi” government.

The fact that Livni is embracing Liberman’s party is not surprising. She has yet to match her new leftist look to her old right-wing wardrobe. But what about the ostensibly left-wing Herzog? Is it ideological blindness? A lust for being prime minister? Or perhaps a couple of thousand of Arabs in Wadi Ara don’t really count on the way ballot box? I mean, surely no one will really take notice anyway. It’s not like we’re a bunch of racists.

Samah Salaime Egbariya is a social worker, a director of AWC (Arab Women in the Center) in Lod and a graduate of the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem. This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here

Related:
Liberman’s de-patriation plan of illusions
If Herzog wants to lead, he’ll need to bring the Arabs with him

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