Without Arabs, There Won't Be Democracy in Israel

Jewish-Arab cooperation is the only way to stop Israel from careening down the nationalist-fanatic slope.

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Arab-Israeli parliament members and other candidates join hands after a joint political slate was announced, Nazareth, January 23, 2015.Credit: Reuters

Since the establishment of the joint Arab Knesset list, with a Jewish candidate on it, is good news that brings new, real hope to the Jewish people, every Jewish person of good will should vote for it.

It is true that the establishment of this party and voting for it in the upcoming elections will not change a thing, and Benjamin Netanyahu will be prime minister once again. Then it will also become clear that almost everyone who swore by their founding fathers, before the elections, “that they would do everything so that Netanyahu would not be prime minister,” will accept, with feigned resignation, the “voters’ will” and ring in Netanyahu’s government, which they now define as a “national disaster” that “leads Israel to the verge of the abyss,” and who knows what else.

What else is obvious? They “will do everything so that Netanyahu will not be prime minister” except for one thing: cooperate with our Arab fellow citizens and their party.

Almost every Zionist – in other words, Jewish – party and most of their leaders are willing to cooperate, and a respectable number of them proved that already until two months ago, with a person they thought and still think is a corrupt and miserable charlatan who is leading the State of Israel to rack and ruin. But to form a government, or even to cooperate with an Arab party that represents one-fifth of Israel’s citizens, in order to prevent this terrible disaster that they are warning us about – this they are not by any means willing to do, ever.

But – and anyone who does not understand this now will understand it after the elections – there is no way to stop the State of Israel from careening down the nationalist-fanatic slope to the abyss except by Jewish-Arab political cooperation. All the rest is nonsense. And the new joint Arab list, with its Jewish candidate, can and must be the harbinger of that hope, the start of that cooperation, the first rung in the beginning of our rescue.

And yes, it is correct that in the meantime, the list is mainly Arab, and it contains only one Jewish candidate in a guaranteed slot, and it also contains nationalists and religious fanatics. So what? And the Jewish – excuse me, the Zionist – lists do not? Do any of them contain more than one Arab candidate, if any, in a guaranteed slot? After all, Likud, Habayit Hayehudi, Yisrael Beiteinu and the rest of the parties that comprised and will comprise this and the next Jewish government contain an abundance of nationalists, racists and zealots of all types and annoyances.

But the Arabs are out. They are out not because of their opinions, their fanaticism or their religiosity. They are out because they are Arab. And the reason why there is only one Jewish candidate on the joint Arab list is not because they do not want Jews. It is because the Jewish parties do not want them – not as partners and not at all. The Zionists do not see the Arabs as partners or as allies, but as strangers, as Other, as enemies.

But our enemies, the ones who place our lives in danger, are not the Arab citizens. Rather, it is nationalism, fanaticism and racism. The war against them must not be adversarial, but together, shoulder to shoulder, with our brothers the Arab citizens.

All the talk about a “Jewish democratic” state is illusion. Without Arabs, without their partnership in all areas of life, there will be no democracy here. What we will get, what we are already getting, and in abundance, is an absolutely Jewish state – nationalist, racist, fanatical. And darkness is in store for us here on the way to the abyss.

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