Opinion

They Forgot What It Means to Be Jews

Joint List members Ofer Cassif, Ahmad Tibi, Ayman Odeh, Mansour Abbas and Osama Saadi make their recommendation to the president of who should form the next government, September 22, 2019.
Emil Salman

“Racism” is one of the most inflated words in Israel’s national conversation. It’s partially true with regard to relations between different Jewish groups with roots in different Diasporas, but exaggerated to the point of falsehood when people say this is the reason for discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel. The objection to them stems from national issues, not race. Some of their political, cultural and religious spokespeople reject Israel as the state of the Jewish people and identify with terrorist organizations. When they choose a different leadership that takes a brave stand against terror and recognizes the Jewish people’s right to sovereignty in the state of Israel, attitudes toward them will likely change dramatically.

The rhetoric and actions of their current leadership, with the possible exception of Ayman Odeh (though he also bears responsibility, as head of the ticket), sow hatred and shake the foundations of the economic and social bridges that have been built over the years. A Jew who truly longs for the day when Arabs will enjoy equality should have considered it unconscionable to vote for this ticket. After all, even its “moderate” members, like Ahmad Tibi, identify with convicted terrorist Marwan Barghouti, consider the “right of return” obligatory, and reject the Jews’ return to Zion and the Jewish people’s right to sovereignty in Israel.

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Jews who vote for the Arab parties’ Joint List are generally well educated and familiar with the ideology of the ticket they’re voting for. They are well versed in the personal and political history of its leaders and know what they say to members of their own community in Israel and to their brothers in Ramallah, Nablus, Beirut and Damascus. “We are the owners of this land,” Tibi said this week, summing up the shared essence of the Joint List. The approximately 50,000 Jews (or more) who voted for the Joint List agree with Tibi; no other interpretation is possible. Thus the bitter truth is that these Jews have joined a ticket that justifies terrorist attacks against their own people and rejects their nation-state’s existence.

They voted for people such as Balad members, some of whose leaders have become terrorists, rather than making do with verbal justifications of terror. And no rationale can cleanse the sin of this vote. In Balad’s view – and also in Tibi’s, as evidenced by his address to the Palestinian parliament – people who murder women and children are martyrs. Tibi, an honored guest in certain Israeli political, social and media circles, also extended a “brotherly hand” to Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences for the murder of Jews and for horrifying acts of terror committed by his subordinates. Tibi termed him an “esteemed leader,” a “partner in our [political] path,” a “symbol,” a “fighter and commander” and “part of our national and personal lives.” Anyone who voted for Tibi also voted for Barghouti.

On the eve of the election, Haaretz published an advertisement whose signatories, the vast majority of them Jews, urged readers to vote for the Joint List. Jews in Israel, including admired academics, urged readers to vote for people who admire the outrageous views and terrible acts described above. The ad’s signatories, and anyone influenced by them, also thereby voted against the Law of Return, against the blue-and-white flag, against “Hatikva” as the national anthem, against Hebrew as the country’s language, against Jewish holidays as national holidays, and of course against Independence Day as a civic Israeli holiday.

Through their vote, they expressed solidarity with those of Israel’s enemies who fight, including through acts of terrorism, against Israel as the state of the Jewish people. I must therefore conclude, with great pain and sorrow (and since it’s the eve of Rosh Hashanah, I’m refraining from more accurate and appropriate words), that they have forgotten what it means to be Jews.