Opinion

For Israel's New Government, Arabs – Out, Corruption – In

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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From Left: Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh, Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz and Joint List lawmaker Ahmad Tibi, October 2019.
From Left: Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh, Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz and Joint List lawmaker Ahmad Tibi, October 2019. Credit: Ofek Avshalom
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

It was Knesset member Yoaz Hendel, the designated minister for strategic affairs in the new government, who coined the phrase by which the world is divided into Jews and those who hate them. Well, it seems that this is the motto of the new government, as well most of the opposition.

It’s not Benny Gantz who capitulated or Benjamin Netanyahu who triumphed. It’s the essence of the State of Israel – an ethnic state with no room for civic partnerships, even if blue-eyed and blond Finns replaced its Arab citizens.

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Corona keeps Bibi in power and unmasks the MossadCredit: Haaretz

Before the election, the opposition camp committed itself to three “no’s”: no to joining a government headed by Netanyahu, no to a fourth election and no to reliance on Arab lawmakers to form a coalition government. Only the last “no” was upheld. Arabs were not partner to decision making, despite the heavy price the new government will cost us.

“It’s doubtful that a more deeply corrupt deal was ever put together in this country’s history,” wrote Haaretz’s Gidi Weitz. This deal made it clear that Arabs are out and corruption is in.

Gantz shook off the Joint List even before the election. Yair Lapid, head of Yesh Atid, told us that the Joint List would not be part of the government. “They’ll vote once from outside the coalition, and that will be the end of it,” he said. Just like the disposable mask you use when emptying garbage into the bin outside, disposing of it before re-entering your house.

Most parties are behaving according to Hendel’s division – Jews and those who hate them. Sixty-eight Knesset members from Likud, Kahol Lavan, the ultra-Orthodox parties and Orli Levi-Abekasis have already agreed on establishing a Jewish government. The 16 MKs from Yesh Atid-Telem and the seven from Yisrael Beiteinu are also in favor of a Jewish government, with one difference: The last two support using the Joint List as a one-time disposable item. The only exceptions are MKs from Meretz and Merav Michaeli (Labor).

“This is not the way to build a wall,” said TV presenter Yoram Arbel once. This is barely the way to build a plaster partition asking to be knocked down.

Masks are everywhere in the public sphere, but in this campaign, all political masks came off. At this rate, the war on corruption, which was the basis for Kahol Lavan's establishment, might become a war for the legalization of corruption. With it, the trampling of the rule of law might reach such proportions that the High Court of Justice becomes an empty shell and the work of the Knesset loses all meaning. The deal says in plain language that if there is a legal hindrance preventing Netanyahu from being prime minister or acting prime minister, coalition Knesset members will not be able to propose alternative candidates. It’s Netanyahu or the deluge.

My sad conclusion is that the parties which before the election espoused a “just-not-Bibi” line effectively support his divisive messages, which harden Israel’s identity as a closed nation-state with a bunker mentality. Even if Netanyahu falls, Yesh Atid, Telem and Yisrael Beiteinu will happily fall in line and continue promoting annexation and the exclusion of Arabs.

One bright spot are the masses filling the streets even in these difficult days of the coronavirus crisis. The people carrying the burden of this heroic civic campaign must find their voices outside the satellite parties surrounding Netanyahu.

It’s time to awaken from delusions. It’s time to build a democratic Jewish-Arab camp.

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