Hezbollah Terror Listing Sparks Uproar in Left-wing Israeli Arab Party

The rank and file of the largely Arab Hadash party did not know their leaders would condemn the Gulf states for bashing Hezbollah.

Ayman Odeh, leader of the Hadash and Joint List parties, speaks during an interview in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015.
Bloomberg

The Hadash party’s condemnation of the Gulf states’ labeling Hezbollah a terror group has caused a stir in the largely Arab far-left party.

On Monday, two factions in the Joint Arab List – Hadash and Arab nationalist party Balad – condemned the move by the Gulf states, saying it served Israel’s interests. Joint Arab List has 13 MKs in the 120-seat Knesset.

Hadash sources have said they did not know the party would make its announcement; the issue was not debated in party institutions in Hadash proper or in the Communist Party, which is part of Hadash.

The issue is particularly sensitive given that the Syria crisis is a controversial topic in Hadash; Hezbollah supports the regime of Bashar Assad. The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, has sided with Saudi Arabia.

Hadash MKs Ayman Odeh, Dov Khenin and Abdullah Abu Maaruf declined to comment, but Yousef Jabareen said the argument was over the timing.

MK Aida Touma-Suliman, a member of the Communist Party’s politburo along with Khenin and Abu Maaruf, said the condemnation of the Gulf states was not discussed in the politburo. She said most of the criticism should have been directed at Saudi Arabia and its policies in Syria and the region.

Touma-Suliman said the party’s institutions would now discuss the matter. It’s not the first spat between the Communist Party and the wider Hadash.

“Undoubtedly there is a segment within the party that is very radical in its perception of events in Syria and which saw in this decision an opportunity to attack the Saudis and the Gulf states,” a senior Hadash official told Haaretz.

He said that others, even though they agreed with the condemnation of the Gulf states, opposed a public declaration. Balad’s central authority did discuss the issue.

In any case, other voices in the Arab community say such declarations do not help fight racism.

"Forty-eight percent of Jews support a transfer of Arab citizens out of the country,” wrote Abraham Fund co-chief Thabet Abu Rass on Facebook, referring to a recent opinion poll. “Are recent declarations by Balad and Hadash instrumental in fighting racism and plans for a transfer?”

As Abu Rass put it, “Don’t you think that combating racism is also our responsibility, not just of Jewish citizens? We must remember that in addition to our being part of the Palestinian nation we are also citizens of this state and we always will be.”