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Balad

  • On our way out of the apartheid closet

    By advancing legislation to exclude the Arab minority from the Knesset, Israel is showing the world that its political system is really only intended for one group. By Marzouq El-Halabi The so-called "suspension bill," which passed its first reading in the Knesset several weeks ago, constitutes another step by the Israeli Right to exclude Arab representatives from Israeli politics. The bill, which gives the Knesset the authority to temporarily or permanently suspend elected members, stems not from a worry over the fate of Israel's democracy, but is part of the Right's slow effort to maliciously and intentionally harm it. The ultimate…

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  • Israel's Knesset just voted on a very dangerous law for democracy

    The draft law, which passed the first of three votes on Monday, would allow the expulsion of Arab MKs from the Knesset. It is one of several recent steps by the Netanyahu government to limit Palestinian political participation. Minutes before leaving for the spring recess Monday night, Israel’s Knesset passed the first reading of a law allowing legislators, with a three-quarters super-majority, to expel other members of Knesset for making statements they deem beyond the pale. The law is widely understood to have been drawn up to specifically target Arab-Palestinian members of the Knesset, particularly of one faction, a legislative…

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  • The problem with calling Hezbollah a terrorist organization

    In Israel the question of whether Hezbollah is a terrorist group or an army boils down to the racist idea that Arabs do not have the right to defend themselves. Even asking is considered treasonous. By Lilach Ben-David The Balad (National Democratic Assembly or A-Tajamou') Hadash and Hadash (Democratic Front for Peace and Equality or Al-Jabhah) parties, the respective liberal-nationalist Palestinian and socialist parties in Israel’s parliament, publicly condemned a GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) decision to define Hezbollah a “terrorist organization” last week. [tmwinpost] The announcement gave the Israeli media another chance to join the merriment of incitement and lies…

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  • The domino effect of persecuting Arab politicians

    The government’s latest attempts to oust Balad from the Knesset are part of an intensifying campaign against Arab political movements, regardless of their different stripes. Three months ago, when the Israeli government outlawed the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, Palestinian citizens of Israel feared that they were witnessing the beginning of an intensified campaign against Arab political groups. Many suspected at the time that the government’s next target would be the Balad party, the nationalist faction of the Joint List, which has been in the crosshairs of consecutive Israeli governments since the 1990s. [tmwinpost] Those suspicions were confirmed last…

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  • Jewish politicians meet with terrorist families too

    Netanyahu wants to kick Arab MKs out of the Knesset for meeting with families of Palestinian terrorists. Will the same standard be upheld for those who meet with Jewish terrorists? Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to punish Palestinian members of Knesset for meeting with families of Palestinians who have carried out deadly attacks against Jewish Israelis. But could his initiative backfire and end up punishing members of his own government? [tmwinpost] The prime minister announced on Sunday that he would be promoting legislation to bar three MKs who met with families of terrorists from serving in Knesset. His announcement came…

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  • When every fire is a potential arson attack

    As incitement against the Israeli Left grows, it is no surprise so many people believed right-wing arsonists were behind the fire at the offices of Israel's oldest human rights organization. Preliminary investigations by Israeli Police and Israel Fire and Rescue Services indicated that the fire that erupted Sunday night in the Jerusalem offices of Israeli human rights group B'Tselem was not the result of arson. The police and fire department published detailed explanations on their findings, according to which the fire was a result of a short circuit in the office's acoustic ceiling. The fire reportedly burned the entire ceiling…

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  • The real danger of outlawing Palestinian political movements

    Banning and persecuting political groups like the Islamic Movement and Balad has the effect of disengaging Palestinian citizens of Israel from the state and its political system. That is very, very dangerous. The Israeli government has done very few things that worry me more than its ongoing assault on the country’s Palestinian citizens’ political representation. In the latest such move, the government outlawed the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement and seized assets and properties belonging to 17 affiliated organizations on Tuesday. One of the things that enables Jews and Arabs to live together in this country, which despite everything…

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  • In Israel's democracy, dissent has always been off limits to Arab citizens

    The banning of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement may seem like a new low, but a closer look at history reveals how the state has been at war with Palestinian political organizations since its very inception. Israel’s Palestinian citizens have never had an easy time organizing politically. The government’s decision to outlaw the northern branch of the Islamic Movement is only the latest — and perhaps most significant — example of the hurdles Arab citizens must face in their struggle for equality. The state has been pushing for the ban for years, accusing the organization of maintaining links…

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  • In natural gas debacle, the Joint List just can’t win

    The slate of Palestinian parties in the Knesset, aligned with neither the coalition nor the opposition, is quickly — and at times clumsily — discovering its own power. Lessons from Israel's natural gas debacle. By Samah Salaime There’s an old joke about a tyrannical lion who abuses a monkey in the jungle. Every time the lion sees the monkey he gives him a hard, loud slap, and asks him, “why aren’t you wearing a hat?” After a few good, hard slaps, the monkey decides to fight back against these unprovoked injustices. He starts to organize, enlists some animal rights organizations,…

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  • 'The Joint List isn't turning its back on Israeli society'

    As an oppressed and colonized minority, we will only ever achieve real change in Israeli policy when we behave as a coherent national group. This does not, however, mean we are excluding our Jewish allies. By Awad Abdelfattah The true strategic significance of the creation of the Joint Arab List has eluded most Israelis. Even among Arab Palestinians inside Israel, the common assumption is that the List’s sole objective is to surmount the electoral threshold after it was raised to 3.25 percent by Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, thereby increasing the influence of the Arab minority in Israeli politics. This…

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  • 'A Palestinian state isn't the solution, but it's a step in the right direction': Meet MK Jamal Zahalka

    Chairman of the Balad party says that unification of Israel’s Arab parties is nothing short of historic — both in Israel and the Arab world: ‘There has never been unity between the communists, nationalists and Islamists.' In an interview, Zahalka talks about his party’s appeal to Jewish voters, why the Joint List won’t join an Israeli government and what compromises he is willing to make to end the occupation. "A war of attrition." That is how writer Samah Salaime Agbaria, my colleague at +972's sister site Local Call, described the endless negotiations between the Arab parties in their attempt to form…

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  • United Arab slate thumbs nose at Liberman's disqualification attempt

    After years of engaging in relentless, blatantly racist incitement against the Arab parties, the foreign minister may soon get his comeuppance. Avigdor Liberman, head of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party and current foreign minister, is trying to get the new unified list of Arab parties disqualified from running in the upcoming elections. According to settler website Arutz Sheva, Liberman's petition is based on the claim that Balad, one of the parties on the list, supports terrorism. Liberman's previous campaigns included a proposal to strip citizenship from Israeli citizens who refused to swear an oath of loyalty to the Jewish state. His 2009 campaign…

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  • The Arab parties united? Great, now it's time to get to work

    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? 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…

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