Letters to the Editor: No Democracy to Fight for if Israeli Arabs Are Excluded

Haaretz Staff
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Credit: \ Ilan Assayag
Haaretz Staff

A strange concept of democracy

Just what or who is the democratic opposition in Israel? The recent elections demonstrated there is a large portion of the public that does not want Netanyahu to continue as prime minister – not a large enough portion, as it turned out. So the effort rightly shifts to the Knesset floor and to the streets. But the opposition leaders appear to have a strange concept of this democracy they are striving, genuinely and rightfully, to preserve. It does not seem to include 20% of Israel’s citizens.

Indeed, Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz made this clear some weeks ago. when he said in discussing coalition building, his party would join only with “non-Jews.” His partner, Yair Lapid, said in an early election speech he would not form a government with the “Zuabi’s.” And making the same point, these organizers along with Labor (and unfortunately Meretz) of the demonstration in Rabin Square to save Israeli democracy did not invite all the opposition parties. The Arabs were not welcome, and if, exceptionally Hadash was to be allowed, that party could not mar the occasion by having its leader speak at the rally.

While all of this is a legitimate decision by the demonstration organizers, it portends a bleak future for what is supposed to be a genuine Knesset opposition. If Kahol Lavan doesn’t consider the Arab parties, and by extension Palestinian Israels, full-fledged members of Israeli society and of our political life, we have little hope of saving democracy from the incitement, racism and xenophobia (as well as corruption) of Netanyahu and his coalition. Indeed, Meretz and hopefully Labor should beware of the brewing contradiction – there is no democracy to protect, or save, if the Israeli Arabs are excluded.

Perhaps we are witnessing the logical conclusion of the injustice and denial of democracy that governments of Israel have perpetrated in our name through rule over millions of Palestinians in the occupied territories. It was inevitable, as Yahoshua Leibowitz pointed out so long ago, that civil rights inside Israel would gradually be limited as continued occupation required protection from domestic criticism. Add the Nation-State law and, now, even the opposition is acquiescing to the political ethnic cleansing of its leading party, Kahol Lavan. Beware. We cannot let this happen.

Prof. Galia Golan

Member of the Meretz executive since 1992

At least they are our problems

In response to “There is somewhere else where Israelis could go” ‏(by Tomer Persico, Opinion, May 4‏).

Tomer Perisco’s piece is absolutely correct. Emigration is the most fundamental right an open and civilized society can offer, and Israel offers it easily.

He points out that Israelis are leaving a country marked by racism, inequality, problems in the health care system, and the rise of the political right (to name only some failings), choosing instead to live in a country marked by racism, inequality, problems in the health care system, and the rise of the political right (to name only some failings).

Who is Persico kidding? There is, of course, one real difference: Israel’s problems are our problems, and some of us who left the goldene medinah and came on aliyah did so precisely to take responsibility for our Jewish failings.... and appreciate the many genuine successes.

Edward Breuer


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