The Iron Ceiling

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Joint List MK Mansour Abbas in a Knesset meeting in Jerusalem, November 10, 2020.
Joint List MK Mansour Abbas in a Knesset meeting in Jerusalem, November 10, 2020.Credit: Danny Shem Tov

For a few years, since 2015, to be exact, I’ve had this feeling that we, the Arabs of Israel, were a charmed branch of the Palestinian people. The Arab world is mired in wars, the Palestinians are already two separate entities, and even the Jewish world is pretty rife with divisions and political parties that get smashed to smithereens. And amazingly enough, this branch was the only one that seemed to be uniting its ranks.

But like everything, good or bad, it’s coming to an end. Now we’re in the twilight of the Golden Age; the Arabs have decided to return to their ancient custom and split.

Let us just say to our Jewish friends who cast their hope upon us to fix what was broken on their side: You’ve missed the boat. Three times the Arabs threw you a rope, and in your great genius, instead of grasping it, you cut it. You casually rejected it, you acted spoiled and insulted, and instead waited for a purebred, blue-and-white rope. And so, all of us missed the opportunity to change the national agenda.

The Koran states: “Allah does not change a people’s lot unless they change what is in their hearts.” It seems that the opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have a long way to go to effect this change. Yair Lapid, who sees himself as an alternative to Netanyahu, is the most enthusiastic supporter of the assassination of the nuclear scientist in Tehran. If Netanyahu were to ask him to go on a public diplomacy tour in Europe, one can assume he would get on the first plane and start yelling “we love Israel” in the streets over there.

On the other hand, the honorable pampered ones have forgotten that Arabs also have desires. Are only Jews permitted to upgrade their status? Look at MK Pnina Tamano-Shata, who in an Olympic leap has become a minister. When the political market is bubbling with intrigue, deception and promises not kept, Arabs will also be there, “buying and selling.”

Unfortunately, MK Mansour Abbas will quickly discover that what is permitted for a Jew is not permitted for an Arab. Benny Gantz is permitted to join up with Netanyahu, but Abbas isn’t. Ze’ev Jabotinsky spoke about the iron wall, but the problem here is the iron ceiling above the head of every Arab in Israel; even the luxury of being an opportunist and crossing lines is denied him. MK Shlomo Karhi of Likud congratulates Abbas on his moves, but says, “We won’t sit with terror supporters.” Meanwhile the Arabs say, “We agreed to the bitterness, but the bitterness rejected us.” Karhi doesn’t want you, Abbas, even if you give his leader the so-called French law that would block him from being prosecuted while in office.

But still, and with all due respect, Abbas didn’t invent the wheel here. This wheel was invented in 1948. Netanyahu was then called David Ben-Gurion, and he established Arab satellite parties, but nothing good came out of that, even if they fulfilled all his demands. Why? Because the DNA of the prevailing policy – now, as then – is to leave the Arabs outside the warm ethnic nest.

As a result, only a struggle and unity with the democratic Jews forces have brought and will bring about positive changes in the lives of Arab society in Israel. Any other kind of unity built on “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” will only lead to disappointment, especially for the weaker party.

It also turns out that Abbas has a defective understanding about the role of the prime minister, or any minister. The prime minister is not the representative of his party in his senior role, and he cannot take any quid pro quo, party-related or personal, for responding to Arab demands, or to the demands of any other public. Supporting the French law, for example, in exchange for fighting crime in the Arab community is bribery.

Still, one can hope that Abbas will veto the cooperation with Likud until the spreader of “abominations,” gay minister Amir Ohana, is booted from all his positions. After all, we cannot conduct a world war against those disseminating this “abomination” among the Arabs and leave our Jewish brethren drowning in it.

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