Gantz, Forget About Israel's Arabs

Gantz and Ya'alon at a party meeting, November 11, 2019.
Emil Salman

The process started a while ago, but the nightmarish days of last week made it clear to me, at least, that the Joint List can’t link up with Kahol Lavan.

It was a week that began with bloodletting in Gaza, along with the deligitimization of the Arabs in Israel through a spectacular television campaign, from which the Arabs (21 percent of the population) were absent and which later put the Joint List’s 13 MKs in front of a one-man firing squad, that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

All this – and this is the problem at hand – happened without any condemnation by their supposed future partners, members of Kahol Lavan, whose leader is a serious contender for prime minister thanks to the Joint List.

My late mother would refer to the Kahol Lavan slate and those like it as a “crooked wall” which you can’t rely on. Moreover, these people, in their arrogance, thought they had these 13 MKs in their back pocket; they went ahead to negotiate with Likud without showing any interest in the feelings of their back pocket’s occupants. Meanwhile, Kahol Lavan’s petty ideologue, MK Yoaz Hendel, who said that the world is divided between the Jews and their enemies, was negotiating with Naftali Bennett without considering the sensitivities of the 13.

So it’s about time to acknowledge that both Kahol Lavan and Likud don’t recognize the Arabs; the latter explicitly, the former being embarrassed by them. Given this, why should we be Rambo and work to rescue the state from the jaws of its own dark forces? Most of the Jews (the 55 right-wing MKs and, no less, the eight of Yisrael Beiteinu) want a corrupt state run by Third World standards. Is it the Arabs’ job to clean out the stables and block the Jews’ prime minister from accepting cigars and champagne? Is it the Arabs’ job, for example, to defend State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, who is asking the High Court of Justice to reverse its order to prosecute the policeman who fatally shot the retreating Kheir Hamdan in Kafr Kana in 2014?

Are Arabs meant to bring to power MK Moshe Ya’alon, who seeks to fight corruption in the purchase of submarines and with the money saved will buy more weapons to carry out a policy summarized as follows: “The border is marked by the plow?” On the contrary, let the money go to the machers rather than to buy more weapons to oppress the Palestinian people.

If we examine the demands of the Joint List we will see that most of them are civil demands with a very general demand regarding to a diplomatic process. These are demands that most parties could live with. Moreover, in Kahol Lavan’s current format, it’s impossible to talk about a diplomatic process. One can also assume that if what happened last week in Gaza had occurred on Benny Gantz’s watch, the number of victims in the Strip would have been even higher, due to both pressure from Kahol Lavan’s hawks and the incitement from the extreme right.

Therefore, I propose that the Joint List get out of Gantz’s back pocket and moreover stay out of the factional struggle in the Jewish street. In a situation where Benjamin Netanyahu’s camp has 55 MKs and the Kahol Lavan-Yisrael Beiteinu camp has 52 MKs, let the Arabs tell Netanyahu that we’re not intervening in the wars of the Jews.

Although this means Netanyahu will return big time, it’s reasonable to assume that the Arabs will get more in every area. And if the Joint List promises Netanyahu that it will vote against removing his immunity on the fast-approaching Judgment Day, all the Arab demands will be fulfilled, including cancelling the Nation-State Law, which was initiated by some of Kahol Lavan’s people.

And to the notables of Kahol Lavan, who are too ashamed to even mention our names, we say: Just forget it. When you’ll be ready to defend your alliance with the Arabs, then we can talk, but trying to have it both ways isn’t acceptable. Either there’s a true partnership here, or leave us alone, and we will pursue our interests with Netanyahu.