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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?

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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    COMMENTS

    1. Brian

      Powerful statement. Thank you. It would be great to see the nascent democratic maturation your describing survive, develop and flourish.

      Reply to Comment
      • ICat

        Wow, what an extremely smart and informative comment from an unemployed foreign sycophant with irrational fixation on- and compulsive obsession with Jews and Israel. Shouldn’t you be spending time on the affairs of your own country, Brian, and worrying about how to make your own country better? What exactly got you so hooked to Jews and Israel, Brian, that you even neglect yourself and won’t go find a job to support yourself, but instead depend on food-stamps provided by the United States government with my tax dollars to survive? What exactly is wrong with you, Brian?

        Reply to Comment
    2. Brian

      Well, forgive me my severe limitations, dear Merav, but one is always learning. It’s a pleasure. For example, the essay of Mr. Henry Lowi (the poster above) written here, is very interesting and articulate. It’s powerful. For your reading pleasure:

      http://www.nion.ca/public-forum-lowi.htm

      And visiting Ms. Egbariya’s fine essay and pausing to discourse with you and linger on this page on a lazy Saturday off from work afforded me the opportunity to discover that essay by Mr. Lowi. Life is full of opportunities. I’m grateful. Now please excuse me while I turn my attentions to my 2014 tax returns. I like to get started early.

      Reply to Comment
      • ICat

        LOL!! Keep fooling yourself on that tax return stuff, idiot, because we know what you don’t want to face and are desperately running away from: your unemployment. But no one is fooled. And pls. keep providing yet more evidence that of your irrational fixation on- and compulsive obsession with Jews and Israel, even as you care not about what goes on in your own country, let alone get emotional about them as you get when discussing Jews, Israel and Jewish affairs. Something is seriously wrong with you, Brian. You latest hit that wins the Olympic gold medal is the piece from one obscure blog “explaining “Why Israeli Anti-Zionists do NOT “recognize the right of the State of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.” You swallowed that nonsense line, sink and hooker and you failed to notice that you are in fact being fed some “brownies” by the author who has nothing new to offer. Anti-Zionist Israelis are 99.99% Muslim Arabs who oppose the right of Israel to exist at all – since 1948, while Israeli Jews on the far-left of the political spectrum (Meretz) who oppose the Jewish State Bill are in fact Zionists! But why would anyone be surprised by your hallucination and confusion and readiness to swallow and parrot anything that remotely reflects negative on Israel? After all, you have said on this site that “Israel has no right to exist”; that “Jewishness and Israeliness: is a kind of mafia ruled by a code of omertà”, and many more idiotic stuff. Do you want me to re-produce your posts (you have quite a record on this site) to that effect? As said, keep fooling yourself, moron.

        Reply to Comment
        • Brian

          You’re quite the brazen liar, Merav/ICat. It reveals who you really are.

          1. “Israel has no right to exist”

          I never said it.

          2. “Jewishness and Israeliness: is a kind of mafia ruled by a code of omertà”

          I never said it. This is what I said, which you quite deviously altered, and which I said in response to one Ginger Eis as follows:

          ————————-l

          Ginger Eis
          Wednesday
          October 29, 2014
          I thought you were going to use ropes to do it. Now, you are going to take a bath? Hmmmmm, just make sure the bathtub is deep enough and filled with water, otherwise it is going to be a difficult drowning, manic marnie…… just saying……

          Brian
          Wednesday
          October 29, 2014
          Evidently you think publicly inviting someone to hang/drown themselves and suggesting techniques to do it is “a proper Zionist response.” This fits with what seems to be your concept of Jewishness and Israeliness: a kind of mafia ruled by a code of omertà.

          ———————–

          You are an utterly shameless liar, Merav/ICat. You are one creepy guy.

          Reply to Comment
          • ICat

            Brian, you already explained what you meant in your reply to Frank, you idiot. Check this out:

            Brian
            Wednesday
            October 29, 2014

            Again, Jewishness as a kind of mafia, ruled by a code of omertà!

            Reply to Comment
            • Frank
            Wednesday
            October 29, 2014

            NOT Jewishness!!! Some Israelis, just like some Italians.

            Reply to Comment
            o Brian
            Wednesday
            October 29, 2014

            Unfortunately it’s not just some individuals. It’s a whole entrenched racist system, a system of Jewish superiority and Arab inferiority. On many overlapping levels. With a code of silence enveloping it. Why do you think a certain organization calls itself “Breaking The Silence”?

            Reply to Comment
            • Samba
            Friday
            October 31, 2014

            Jewish …Maffia ??jajaja more Christans _Maffia. you are stupide to insinate religion.

            http://972mag.com/photographed-punching-an-arab-woman-sue-the-photographer/98152/

            Brian, in your own posts you explained yourself what you yourself meant. Now you are trying to lie, rationalize and bring in Ginger Eis. Impressive. But hey, I am not surprised that you are still obsessed with Ginger Eis. Keep whacking it. Just don’t pull too hard, else you hurt yourself.

            Reply to Comment
          • ICat

            As to your dragging “Merav” into the discussion, remember that you also thought that I am “Phil Fumbel”, “Slug”, “Sluggo”, “Gustav”, etc. Soon, you will add “Frank”, “Samba” and others to that list. That is unsurprising, Brian. Indeed, when bigoted anti-Semites like you idiot are exposed, they get rattled and paranoid and start “seeing things”, “hearing voices” and getting fearful of their environment and everyone. Need your meds, Brian?

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            That’s it. I’m writing to have you banned from +972 for lying and slander. You openly and with malice aforethought lied about what I wrote and deviously convey here a sense of Jewishness and Israeliness that is the precise opposite of the one I am arguing for and promote. That’s unforgivable. In fact it’s criminal and may be actionable in a court of law.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            The article you link to is actually quite interesting. I stand by every word I wrote. I see absolutely not a thing wrong with the words I write in the context I write them. They are spot on. They are pro-Jewish! And pro-Israel! The context on the page is wonderful! You on the other hand are shown here to be quite simply a liar. As someone so weak he has to resort to lying. There is no covering that up that up. People know, Merav, people know! lol!

            Reply to Comment
          • ICat

            Another hysterical set of mumbo jumbo from a psychotic anti-Semite. Check this out you little weasel:

            Brian: “That’s it. I’m writing to have you banned from +972 for lying and slander…”

            Brian: “The article you link to is actually quite interesting. I stand by every word I wrote. I see absolutely not a thing wrong with the words I write in the context I write them. They are spot on.”

            Which one is it, Brian? Are you still rattled and confused? Anyway, Brian, don’t worry, I am tracking and watching you like the eagle on the treetop. like the American Sniper I lie in ambush watching and waiting.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            If you’re banned let me suggest you adopt a new moniker: “The Liar.” Or perhaps “The Lying Hairball.” People know Merav, people know! lol!
            Do you have legal representation yet? Why don’t you hire Eis? LOL! I have many scintillas of evidence right here on this page!

            Reply to Comment
          • Daniel

            Brian, you are not making sense anymore. Maybe you should stop talking. Enough.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Not “Daniel,” Merav, I recommended “The Liar.” Try to keep it straight. Got legal? It never pays to lie.

            Reply to Comment
          • Felix Reichert

            Haha, who is this iCat idiot supposed to be?

            Way to completely disgrace and make a fool of yourself.

            But again I have to thank you and your ilk: you’re succesfully making mainstream-zionists look like the vile scum many of them are.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            Icat – your talents are wasted here, mucking around with the hill-top youth and vying with Baruch Gottesman and Richard Barnes to see who can be most contemptuous of the intelligence of others and most damaging to the cause of Israel. Why not put your fine rhetorical powers, your cogent and learned analysis and your eloquence and gushing charm to better use – perhaps you could be Israeli ambassador to Dublin? If your application is successful the GOI will put you on an Israel advocacy training course that will tell you that there is a role for bullying and bluster, but only when you find yourself losing an argument, and that generally such tactics alienate those who have not yet made up their minds. They will teach you that your focus should not be totally on your heavy-weight opponent with whom you are slugging out sixteen rounds, but that you must also focus on the referee and the audience, who will admire nifty footwork and clever maneuvering and award points for these and disqualify you when you kick your opponent or head-but him or punch below the belt.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            P.S. before you reply, your Israel advocacy trainer will tell you that you should not lightly invoke antisemitism and to respond to a justice or human rights stance with claims that your opponent is ranting, hallucinating or employing mumbo-jumbo is an absolute no-no. Positive responses if you find them are overwhelmingly best, though sometimes you will have to resort to pathetic distractions like “what about Saudi Arabia” or “remember what Britain / America / France did a century or more ago” or “that’s not what you said on that Friday morning seventeen years ago”.

            Reply to Comment
          • ICat

            What a hysteria! The resident neonazi scums felix reichert (from Germany) and Bryan (the little old turd) have entered the discussion with their usual mumbo jumbo to rescue their demolished brother in hate, Brian, who is clearly melting down. No surprises there – except: no one can make sense of their hysterical rants.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            Are you insane or what Icat? I just suggested that you did your cause no favours by calling your opponents ranters, spouting mumbo-jumbo. So what do you do – you call your opponents ranters, spouting mumbo-jumbo. How does it feel to be the laughing-stock of +972 – you are one serious idiot, I feel deeply sorry for you, imbecile – without even the slightest capability to vary your line of attack. You keep very good company with your fellow lunatics Baruch and Richard.

            Reply to Comment
          • ICat

            Right! Bryan along with his viper-mentors: David Duke and David Icke, is now giving lectures on how to defend Israel and hallucinating about being “a laughing-stock at +972” – even as he neither makes nor can make any coherent arguments either on this thread or any other thread? What a delusional little old turd! Take your hysterical mumbo jumbo “suggestion” with you and shove it.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            I do indeed have every right to lecture you since the only thing you bring to this site is a vicious name-calling. David Icke is a New Age spiritualist and professional conspiracy-theorist who has discredited some of the ideas he promotes (e.g. Green politics, the role of elites, the concept of problem-reaction-solution) by his crazy argument “that a secret group of reptilian humanoids called the Babylonian Brotherhood controls humanity”. I am a simple old-fashioned atheist with no time for psychics or reincarnation. David Duke is at the opposite end of the spectrum to me (an American white supremacist, racist, homophobic, Holocaust-denier). Your charges are simply desperate nonsense. Your constant slur at my “anti-Semitism” is equally nonsensical – my real heroes and mentors are Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Gideon Levy, Amira Hass, Gerald Kaufman, Helen Suzman, Max Blumenthal, Jeff Halper, Ilan Pappe, Avi Shlaim, etc.

            Those who comment on this site come in two categories (1) those engaged in a monologue like Baruch and Richard who simply express the weird voices in their heads in a take-it-or-leave-it manner. They add nothing to the discussion but probably have a right to express their opinions. (2) those who are engaged in a dialogue like yourself and myself. The very act of entering dialogue carries certain responsibilities otherwise dialogue is impossible. Chief among these are (a) not to deliberately spread what you know to be a falsehood and (b) to go for the ball not the player. When your main line of attack is repeatedly “little old turd” you simply display your moral bankruptcy and utterly discredit your political stance. Go on an anger management course and do give some thought to what sensible advocacy entails. It may of course be that you are incapable of reflection or listening to anyone else and are simply a bully unable to do anything except shout down your opponents. If so just ask yourself whether your approach is working? Are the long hours you spend insulting those whose ideas you dislike actually being silenced, or are there people who just like to stand up to bullies. (There are of course which is why Palestinian steadfastness is so admirable).

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Felix and Bryan: Look, his own Prime Minister just outright slandered a fellow citizen of his, viciously, calculatedly. Yossi Sarid (in Haaretz) in the past week discussed this Prime Minister in the context of criteria for antisocial personality disorder. And this was before the Bahloul slander! All this vicious stalker is doing here is crudely emulating his own Prime Minister. He’s laying low with the rank personal invective and creepy sexual stuff for the moment only because he knows he’s being watched. His type responds only to rule-based environments (prisons for example) in which bad behavior has direct consequences. Otherwise they don’t care. And they are not able to see themselves as others see them. They just don’t get it. The funniest/saddest and most pathognomonic thing this ‘angry little nonentity’ may have produced yet is his characterizing what he perpetrated here on this page as “the discussion.”

            Reply to Comment
    3. Mikesailor

      Hairball: You’re back and littering the pages of 972 again. Bad kitty. Since you are an Israeli pretending to be an American, I would think that you would be sick and tired of trying to pretend you are something you are not. But then again, your intellectual shallowness is only exceeded by your loutish behavior and dishonesty. I guess you are still reading Israel Hayom because that is what lines your litter box. Or are they now putting “Commentary” in you box, now? Doesn’t matter. Each one is intellectual drivel written by hacks with the moral integrity of… well… you.

      Reply to Comment
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