Opinion

On March 2, the Genuine Jewish Democrat Will Vote for Israel's Arab Citizens

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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A member of the Israeli security forces walks past election posters in the West Bank town of Hebron on February 23, 2020.
A member of the Israeli security forces walks past election posters in the West Bank town of Hebron on February 23, 2020.Credit: HAZEM BADER / AFP
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

When they abuse Jews, I feel Jewish. When they oppress blacks, I feel black. When they engage in ethnic cleansing against Muslims, I feel Muslim. When they engage in attacks against Christians, I feel Christian.

Yes, that’s what singles out the genuine democrat: No human suffering is foreign to him, no barrier of identity will separate him from those who are suffering. Next Monday the genuine Jewish democrat will overcome all the walls that separate the two peoples, and will give his vote to the most threatened ethnic group in the State of Israel – the Arab population.

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You read it correctly. When the winds of separation are destroying everything good in our country, when both the government and the alternative treat Arabs like a contagious disease, when the Kahanist genie is settling in the hearts of people and political parties that until recently considered it an abomination, when a question mark is hovering above the citizenship of 300,000 Arabs, when a good Arab is a humiliated Arab, when there is a consensus that the Arabs are the jungle – when all of this exists, the democrat does not have the luxury of voting for another party. All that’s left for him to say is: “Let me cast my lot with you, my Arab brothers and sisters. Anyone who wants to get to you must pass through me.”

Anyone with a human heart must stand alongside a threatened minority, because under the circumstances in which we live, that is the only act that turns a person into a human being. And if such a step had been taken a long time ago, the entire course of history would have been totally different.

It’s not only a moral step, which is important in itself. Rather, it is mainly a revolution of awareness in the State of Israel, which is ruled by paradigms of separation between the two peoples. If 50,000 or 100,000 Jews vote for the Joint List, the snowball, a welcome one this time, would roll and gain strength and lead the way to a humane country, which will never abandon its children, regardless of religion, race or gender.

Having 50,000 or 100,000 Jewish citizens vote for the Joint List is a sharp, glittering, exciting step. It contains a message for all the citizens of the country: “If you’re declaring that the Arabs are the jungle, then please, count us in with the jungle! If you want to separate from 300,000 Arab citizens, our lot is with those who are being separated, not those doing the separating.”

Today, when we have a boring election market because of the meagerness of the ideological, political and social merchandise, when Benny Gantz, the chairman of Kahol Lavan, the alternative to Likud, wants to form a government based on a “Jewish majority” (in German it sounds more authentic) – especially during these crazy times, do not remain captives of the idea that you have to vote for those who are less evil, for Kahol Lavan or the Labor-Gesher-Meretz coalition, despite the problematic nature of the worldview of some of the Joint List’s candidates.

Anyone who wants to break the consensus does so in a big way. There’s a poem in Arabic that says: “Either I will drink straight from the spring, or I will remain thirsty forever.” Yes, why make do with a statement here and a hint there, to the effect that perhaps one party or another is opposed to the policy of separation and incitement. Instead, go straight to the spring, to the punching bag, to the object of the incitement, racism and exclusion.

Excuse me for challenging you, but the situation is grave, and salvation will not come from the present political alignment, in which every party is afraid of its own shadow, and fears being accused, God forbid, of loving the Arabs too much. The response of the Jewish democratic public in Israel must be to shatter the chains to which it has bound itself.

Next Monday you don’t have to demonstrate. You don’t even have to visit the Arab towns to express solidarity. All you have to do is insert the revolutionary ballot inside the polling booth for your place of residence, and thereby change the course of history. If you will it, it is no dream.

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