Israel Election Results: Who Cares What Pushed Netanyahu Into the Arab Israelis' Arms? It's a Revolution

Carolina Landsmann
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit at a coronavirus vaccination center in the Arab town of Tira, this month
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit at a coronavirus vaccination center in the Arab town of Tira, this month Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Carolina Landsmann

Good morning, Mansour Abbas. Who could believe it? Likud’s Tzachi Hanegbi has defended the option of forming a government supported by Abbas and his United Arab List, and David Bitan has said “sometimes you have to compromise,” while recognizing that the party’s No. 2, former Sakhnin Mayor Mazen Ghanayim, “could serve in any capacity in Israel.” This sounds like the days of the Messiah.

Who cares what exactly drove Benjamin Netanyahu into the arms of the Arab Israelis? This is a development that Israel needs like a breath of fresh air. Abbas, believe Netanyahu or don’t, what difference does it make? Go Abbas go!

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We’ve read and heard right-wing media stars such as Shimon Riklin and Jacob Bardugo speak out against immediately dismissing any cooperation with United Arab List. And, writing in Hebrew on Facebook, Caroline Glick has recommended “working with Abbas to implement the principle lying at the basis of the Abraham Accords, which relates to our ties with Israel’s Arab citizens,” while hoping that this bears fruit for the benefit of “relations between Jews and Arabs here at home.” All this attests to a revolution taking place before our eyes.

This isn’t the right moment to be petty or relish the shock of the political and moral acrobatics, pointing out the hypocrisy or double standards of the Bibi camp. A British friend once explained to me that double standards are characteristic of political revolutions, because after all, what’s a revolution like the abolition of slavery if not the replacement of one moral standard with another? In transitional periods, of course, there were slave owners who opposed slavery. Should we mention that peace at home is also made between erstwhile enemies?

The attempt to attribute these changes to self-effacement by Netanyahu’s supporters and his total dominion over their minds reflects political childishness, ignoring that a leader is judged by his or her ability to effect change, even hard-to-digest change, when it’s vital to a society and a country’s well-being. The willingness of Netanyahu’s supporters to follow him even when he leads them on a path they hitherto were scared to follow attests to their complete faith in him. It’s similar to the faith the peace camp had in Yitzhak Rabin, who led it to conciliation with bitter enemies such as the PLO and Yasser Arafat.

The shattering of the ceiling of delegitimization of Arab representation in Israel’s governments is more important than any other process taking place before our eyes. This wouldn’t have happened without the pandemic, the criminal indictments and Benny Gantz turning his back on Netanyahu.

Israel’s reality seems to have been pushed into this historical necessity. There’s no better way of fixing the nation-state law than by establishing – for the first time in the country’s history – a government that includes Knesset members from an Arab party, and to see members of this party around the cabinet table. This isn’t a change in legislation but a de facto cancellation of this law, rendering it a dead letter. Go Abbas go!

Moreover, we can’t help but view the appeal to Arab citizens within the context of the Abraham Accords, as noted by Glick. The peace camp’s integrity requires that it recognize this fact. Also, this camp’s integrity requires that it place the importance of such cooperation with Arab parties above the camp’s sectorial interests.

In addition, if Netanyahu’s Likud forms a coalition which includes Kahanists together with Arabs who are also the local representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood( as explained by Amos Harel) and that promotes domestic and regional peace, we shouldn’t only take off our hats and sing “Hallelujah, an Arab Spring is here”: Other parties such as the Joint List, Meretz and Labor – if it really is continuing in Rabin’s footsteps – should seriously consider supporting such a government, at least from the outside.