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WATCH: Finally, an Israeli politician demanding Arab-Jewish unity

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post sharing my personal grappling with the question of whether to vote or not in the election in 12 days. I’m still not sure if I will end up voting, as it feels to me in principal like conceding to Israel’s farcical democracy and a direct affront to all the disenfranchised Palestinians who live under the same governmental roof.

But if I do vote, I know who I will vote for: Da’am, the Arab-Jewish workers’ party. I’m not going to elaborate much more, at least not in this post (you can read their platform here), because I think the message in the video below by the party’s chairwoman, Asma Agbaria Zahalka – a Palestinian citizen of Israel from Jaffa – says it all. It is such a simple message, but for 2013 Israel, it is a revolutionary one. A message that you don’t hear from any politicians in Israel, Arab or Jewish, certainly not in such an assertive, unabashed, matter-of-fact-manner.

And as for the argument that there are no politicians out there with any charisma, that can out-charm, or out-talk Netanyahu, I think  he’s met his match.

I just want to note that I happened upon this video the first time on a local TV channel that was playing in a supermarket in Jaffa, with subtitles in Arabic.

*The views expressed here are my own and do not represent 972mag or any other entity. 972mag.com does not endorse any specific political party.

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    1. Palestinian

      The Palestinians who live in Yafa Lyd and Ramle are Palestinian,its true they live in what has been given to the Zionist immigrants,its true they hold the Israeli passport but they are who they are.They live in a state that was established upon the ruins of their people,a state that keeps terrorizing their brothers and sisters and discriminates against them .They live in a racist state that sees them as a demographic bomb.What do Jewish Israelis expect ?!

      Reply to Comment
    2. Richard Witty

      If I were an Israeli citizen, Da’am would not represent my views.

      While I identify as a working person, I am not a “revolutionary worker”.

      Reply to Comment
      • sh

        If you watch other interviews with Asma Aghbarieh-Zahalka you will see her freely confess to never having been a worker herself so much as a university graduate. I don’t know why you think that being a revolutionary worker is mandatory to qualify as a supporter of her party. The essence of her message on this clip is that she does not see a kippa-wearing man with a long beard questioning her about his fears as an enemy, or herself as his enemy, she sees him as part of a collective to which she, too, belongs. The Daam collective comprises artists, academics, workers, etc., of whatever provenance. As you can see from the man’s face, he is not used to hearing things like that. And as she says, it’s not his fault, or her fault, it’s the leadership that incites. We are pitted against each other all the time although in human situations we are similar and instinctively often help or commiserate with each other despite the mistrust and fear that has been carved into us.

        Compare talk like that with Likud Beiteinu’s election spot. I found a translation in The Jewish Press (!):

        “We are proud of the Jewish state.
        “We are proud of our heritage.
        “We are also proud of what we have achieved here. . .
        “. . .in the last past four years.

        “We are proud we have recruited the world in placing sanctions on Iran.
        “We built a security barrier which stopped the wave of illegal migrants from the Egyptian border.
        “We are proud to have brought an economic flourishing, among the highest in the world.
        “We brought a dramatic reduction in cellular (phone) prices. ”
        We granted free education to children from the age of three.
        “We are proud that we created 350,000 (new) jobs.
        “We advanced the number of workers in the periphery and reduced unemployment.
        “We invested millions in highways and trains.

        “We are proud of the combination of forces between the Likud and Yisrael Beitenu. We are proud of all that we have done and together we will continue to strengthen Israel. We are proud of our unity and our power.”

        What kind of election platform is that?

        Reply to Comment
    3. Omri

      What?? Throughout Israel’s history there has allways been a joint Jewish-Arabic party: the Communist Party of Israel and since 1977 the Democratic Front for Peace and Eqality (Hadash). Unlike the sectarian Daam, which has failed to gain more than a tiny fraction of the votes needed to enter the Knesset, Hadash has a popular base and thousands of Arab and Jewish activists engaged in municipal, trade-union, peace and social grass-root struggles.

      Reply to Comment
      • Shlomo Krol

        Hadash is an Arab party with one Jewish candidate on the list. Just like Meretz is a Jewish party with one Arab candidate. Nobody can deny that there are strong Arab nationalist overtones in Hadash discourse. Daam rejects nationalism. Hadash supported anti-democratic putsh in Russia, the Hadash leader went to Lybia to meet dictator Ghaddafi, leaders of Hadash raised recently their support for Assad. Daam always supported democratic processes in the world. Hadash relies on support of clans. Daam is the party of ideology, not of clans. Hadash is a party of men, the first woman in the list is on the 5-th place, which is not a real place. Daam lead by a woman and has women on fourth and fifth place. Well, one might say that even number one is not real for Daam – but I have no doubt that their forces will grow and they will make up if not this time than the next one. Now, Daam is the only party in Israel not only as a joint Arab-Jewish list, but also as the party which actually struggles for the rights of workers, organizes proffesional unions and helps to sign collective work agreements to the most underprivileged ones, to those working in small factories, in moving companies, in agriculture. This party is indeed different, its voice is not the voice of opportunism, nationalism, inflammatory slogans and demagoguery, as the voices of all the rest of the parties to greater or lesser extent – it’s the voice of reason, of solidarity, of principles, of internationalism, of humanism.

        Reply to Comment
        • Susann Codish

          Well stated. I’ve been vacillating between Meretz and Daam for quite some time. You’ve helped tip the scale in Daam’s favor, though I’d still like to see where it stands in the polls. Overall, I hate the idea of strategic voting: I’d love to cast my ballot straight from the heart. But having done that 4 yrs. ago and watched my party go up in flames, I think I’d rather strengthen the center-left in a meaningful way.

          Reply to Comment
          • Yshai kalmanovitch

            Shlomo – even if you will repeat those lies again and again it won’t make them true. this patronizing attitude towards Israeli-palestinians from the side of the pseudo-liberals behind DAAM, which take pride at supporting a Palestinian candidate while expressing their old chauvinist-Zionist views is exactly the reason why DAAM has practically no supporters among Israeli-Palestinians. ever heard of Kafr Kassem and Vilner and Tubi’s activity there? the fight against the military regime lead by the communist party? the day of land and Taufiq Ziad? and Al-Araqib today? Israeli-Palestinians vote HADASH because of its history, because it always stood up for peace and equality and democracy – not because they are so primitive as you portray them and vote “with the clan” because they “take bribe”.
            at the same time this attitude – together with your count of “how many Jews are in HADASH” – which is of course also completely false (but why should you care about the facts) – is a perfect example for anyone who wants to see what is behind those empty words of yours.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            “Israeli Palestinian” is an oxymoron, like “Netherlander Batavian” or “Moldovan Bessarabian”

            Reply to Comment
        • JorgeG

          Shlomo: your criticism of Hadash (most of which is based on distorted facts) is revealing. It conforms my suspicion that Daam is out to show how much better it is compared to other leftist parties. Perhaps Daam is really irreproachable, a consequence of being a new born movement that hasn’t done anything yet except talking about idealistic politics.
          Let’s face it though, the main result of Daam electionary activity is to draw away potential voters from Meretz and Hadash. I assume that right-wingers are very happy for Daam doing a good job of it.

          Reply to Comment
    4. JKNoReally

      The difference between Israeli State incitement and Arab incitement is that the latter refers to a credible threat to displace or kill Israeli Jews en masse. Genocidal solutions to the Jewish question are mainstream discourse in Egypt, Iran, and other powerful actors in the region. Despite their shameful and shabby treatment by the government and many Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs need fear no such outcome, which is why the parity asserted by Zahalka is false.

      Reply to Comment
      • What you have done, JKNR, is assert that because SOME in a designated class are actively against you, ALL in that class should so be treated. This makes that label (here, Arab) into a kind of universal guilt. This is exactly what Zahalka is arguing against.

        Nor does incitement to riot in South Tel Aviv–in which at least two sitting MK’s participated in–have anything at all to do with “Arabs.” That incitement was racial.

        I think the view you express is terrified of losing control: people must EVERYWHERE be afraid and hate, otherwise the barbarians will enter the gates. And so Arabs born in Israel, with multigenerational family histories therein, are made into enemies.

        Reply to Comment
        • JKNoReally

          Greg Pollock: I didn’t say anything you’ve attributed to me but go ahead and keep imagining things if it makes you happy.

          Reply to Comment
          • What Arabs do in other countries is irrelevant to what Arab citizens of Israel do. The issue is not all Arabs as a class, but Arab Israelis. And there is no ground for “Israeli State incitement” based on the actual focal class within Israel. To claim that Arab Israelis do not have to fear the outcome a Jew would face in Iran or Egypt is supurious, for the focal Arab is an Israeli citizen. Your argument has to generalize to all Arabs to make any sense at all.

            Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          You know.. Sometimes the barbarians do enter the gates and the result isn’t pretty. That fact is more obvious here than wherever it is you are so you can discount the possibility.

          Reply to Comment
    5. Mairav, if you will not vote, should not Asma Agbaria Zahalka refrain from speaking, for similar reasons?

      Reply to Comment
    6. Vittorio

      Wow, I am impressed.

      But there is only one problem. Would it work?

      Lets see.

      – Syria, not so good.
      – Lebanon, not so good.
      – Egypt, not so good.
      – Libya, not so good.

      I won’t go on. Show me a place where Arabs get on with non Arabs/Non Muslims if the Arabs are a near majority or a majority?

      So how will it work with the Jews? Personally, I am very sceptical. But then again, I am just a cynic.

      Reply to Comment
      • Rafael

        Show me a place Jews live well with non-Jews when they’re in a clear majority?

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser


          Reply to Comment
          • Rafael

            If Jews got on well with minorities in their country, that video wouldn’t have been made. Haredim wouldn’t spit on Armenians in Jerusalem, pro-settler activists wouldn’t burn down mosques and churches, Arabs wouldn’t refuse to join the army, and all non-Jews wouldn’t live in constant fear of losing their properties under laws that apply to non-Jews only.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Lies, lies, lies.

            >If Jews got on well with minorities in their country, that video wouldn’t have been made.

            A lie. This video is racist in it’s core – there is no such thing as “Palestinian Israelis”

            >Haredim wouldn’t spit on Armenians in Jerusalem.

            Yet another lie.

            >pro-settler activists wouldn’t burn down mosques and churches

            And bit more lies once again.
            I dare you to back your words.
            A picture of burned-down church would do nicely

            >Arabs wouldn’t refuse to join the army


            >and all non-Jews wouldn’t live in constant fear of losing their properties under laws that apply to non-Jews only.


            Dude, you are certainly a Judophobe of the Week.

            Reply to Comment
        • Vittorio

          “Show me a place Jews live well with non-Jews when they’re in a clear majority?”

          I tell you what, I won’t play the blame game and will not claim that the Arabs at least contribute to problems.

          What I will say though is that even if I accept your premise that it is all the Jews fault (isn’t it always according to people like you?), even then it proves my point. What this woman advocates has not got much hope. At least not in our time.

          Thanks for proving my point for me.

          Reply to Comment
    7. Ben-Kedem

      Wow, the type of leader we need. Wish someone like her was “running” the West Bank or at least the PA. But how could W.Bank Palestinians possibly have opinions (not to mention policies) like that when all personal connections have been blocked off for so long due to the Wall and freedom of movement restrictions?

      Reply to Comment
    8. Kiwi

      “… blocked off for so long due to the Wall .,. ”

      There would not have been a wall if there would not have been the sustained suicide bombing campaign by Palestinisns against Israeli civilians.

      There would not have been occupation and settlements had the Palestinians and their Arab brethern chosen to make peace with Israel prior to 1967 instead of perpetual war and terrorism.


      Reply to Comment
    9. caleb

      Nice idea for the naive.

      Reply to Comment
    10. JorgeG.

      I see two main problems with Daam:
      a) in advocating the demotion of the present PA leadership, it ignores that the only political alternative to Abbu Mazen’s is Hamas. If Hamas were to attain power in the West Bank, not only the Israeli right wing but also Centrist parties would have the perfect excuse for not negotiating with the Palestinians.
      b) Daam introduces more fragmentation into an already weakened political Left.
      Both because a) and b) Daam is doing a job for the right wing parties.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Netty Sänger

      It is so good to see and hear this wonderful Arab woman speak.
      I am amazed she still has the will and the courage to speak up.
      She speaks about how every citizen should be equal to his fellow
      citizen in Israël. Of course, this is how it should be all over the world.
      We are all equal, no matter what religion, state, tribe, footbalteam, you name it.
      This is so true and so obvious, yet cumulative Israël governments violate this fact.
      I cannot comprehend that, after all that was done to the Jews during the last world war and even long before in the pogroms, the successive governments of Israël fail to understand that the only way to piece and prosperity for all is to realise that all are equal.
      Israël should not be like The Animal Farm. But they are definitely acting like that.
      They have no right to build illegal settlements. It will only make the hate against the settlers grow and they know that!
      And how outride stupid it is to claim that 3000 years ago Jews lived in this region, so therefore contemporary Jews have a “right” to claim all this territory.
      I wander how many wars every region in Europe would be in right now if every single person would claim the land where its ancestors of 3000 years ago once lived.
      The only solution is to start treating every citizen equal, to totally separate religion from government and sincerely show and make final piece with the neighbouring states.
      I understand this will be difficult but it is the only road to go.
      If you change and are sincere, then your so-called enemy will change with you!

      Reply to Comment
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