The Joint Arab List Is Not Representative of Israel's Arabs

One would have to imagine a Jewish Knesset list which united Meretz, Yisrael Beitenu and Shas to begin to understand how the Joint Arab List functions.

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
File Photo: MKs Basel Ghattas, Haneen Zoabi and  Jamal Zakalka from the Joint Arab List's Balad faction.
File Photo: MKs Basel Ghattas, Haneen Zoabi and Jamal Zakalka from the Joint Arab List's Balad faction.Credit: Rami Shlush
Moshe Arens
Moshe Arens

Communists, Nasserists, Islamists, this is the witches brew which constitutes the Joint (Arab) List, forced into each other’s unwilling arms by the law that raised the threshold for representation in the Knesset. One would have to imagine a Jewish Knesset list which united Meretz, Yisrael Beitenu and Shas to begin to understand how the Joint List chaired by Ayman Odeh functions.

The latest crisis occurred when all members of the Joint List were invited to visit the family of Baha Alian, who was part of a two-man terrorist team that killed Haim Aviv, Alon Govberg and Richard Lakin on a bus in Jerusalem last October. The three-member Nasserist component of the Joint List, Balad, accepted the invitation, while the others stayed away. These three – Jamal Zahalka, Haneen Zoabi and Basel Ghattas – don’t miss an opportunity to create provocations that demonstrate their hate of Israel and enrage most of Israel’s citizens, Jews and Arabs alike.

Flaunting their immunity as Knesset members, there seem to be no limits to what they are prepared to do. The founder and former leader of Balad, Azmi Bishara, fled Israel amid allegations of treason and espionage, and is now in Qatar. He may be the example they are trying to emulate.

Refusing to condemn the murderers, Zahalka insists that they are “victims of the occupation.” In other words, according to him, it is “the occupation” that is responsible for the death of Aviv, Govberg and Lakin, and not the Palestinian terrorists who killed them. The same presumably is the case for Nashat Milhem, who did not live under the “occupation,” and the two 13-year-old girls who lived in Ramle and knifed a guard there on Thursday.

The Joint List is the perfect example of the Law of Unintended Consequences. With the intention of improving the quality of “governance” in Israel, Avigdor Lieberman promoted the idea of raising the threshold for representation in the Knesset. A law raising the threshold to 3.25 percent was passed in the last Knesset and faced the three diverse Arab factions represented in the Knesset with the choice of uniting or risking disappearing from the parliament. It was a gun-shot marriage, as the three Arab parties appeared in the present Knesset in a “united” front.

Governance, the stability of the coalition formed after the election, was not improved but rather impaired. A direct result of this law is the present coalition which controls 61 Knesset seats, one of the smallest coalitions in Israel’s political history, while Lieberman himself sits in the opposition together with the Joint Arab List.

But the damage done does not stop there. The antics of the Balad trio enrage many of Israel’s Jewish citizens, but worse, they create the impression that they reflect the position of the entire Joint List, and that they represent the feelings of many of Israel’s Arab citizens. This cannot possibly contribute to improving relations between Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens.

Improving relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel is obviously not one of the objectives of Zahalka, Zoabi, and Ghattas. It is important to dispel the impression they create, and that the chairman of the Joint Arab List, Ayman Odeh, publicly distances himself from them and make it clear that these three represent only themselves.

The Zahalka-Zoabi-Ghattas provocation comes at the very time that the government has reached a historic decision to allocate 15 billion shekels to minority sectors during the next five years in order to improve the quality of life there and move toward greater equality between all sectors of Israeli society. This is obviously of little interest to the Balad trio. If their theatrics throws a monkey wrench into the implementation of this decision, they couldn’t care less. It is further proof, if any was needed, that their aim is not to advance the interests of Israel’s Arab citizens. The voters who elected them to the Knesset will hopefully draw the appropriate conclusion from this episode.

Click the alert icon to follow topics: