We, the Arab Hordes

I believe that this nation, whose history is paved with pogroms, incitement and hatred, will never allow a racist and instigator of divisiveness to be placed at its head.

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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An Israeli Arab stands behind a voting booth before casting her ballot at a polling station in the northern town of Umm al-Fahm, March 17, 2015.
An Israeli Arab stands behind a voting booth before casting her ballot at a polling station in the northern town of Umm al-Fahm, March 17, 2015.Credit: Reuters
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

In his second speech before the United States Congress in 2012, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extolled the standing of the Arab minority in Israel: “Half a percent” of the world’s 300 million Arabs live in a true democracy. Following that declaration I wrote that if Jews are “a light unto the nations,” Israel’s Arabs are the “poor man’s light unto the nations.” Last week he changed his thinking and decided to confront that one half of one percent, that jewel in his crown.

Since that person boasted of us in full view of the entire world, let’s not disappoint him and do what’s expected of every true democrat: demand the immediate resignation of a prime minister who expressed such blatant racism. This is no more than would be demanded by any Jewish democrat in the United States, when confronted with racists statements against Jews. Jews in that country and their democratic allies would not hesitate in demanding the deposition of any racist from public office. That’s democracy.

Don’t worry, Mr. Netanyahu. In your fourth speech before Congress you’ll be proud of your Arabs, who acted against their prime minister when it was justified to do so. We’ll play the part of “American Jews” in Israel when it comes to local racists. What are we missing? Facebook? Twitter? A big mouth? Most of all we’re missing “hordes” of democratic-minded Jews. We’ll learn Israeli-style audacity from you and enlist the help of outsiders in our internal Israeli dispute, only this time in a legitimate manner. We’ll ask our representatives to appear before Congress and explain the widespread incitement directed at us by Israel’s government.

On Friday, as part of the threatening hordes that Netanyahu warned against, I launched a petition addressed to President Reuven Rivlin, who values democracy and equality. The petition calls on him to abstain from calling on Netanyahu to form the next government, since a threatening black banner of incitement, divisiveness and a hatred of the other flies above his head. Two thousand signatures were collected by Saturday morning.

To Netanyahu I will say: You’ve gone overboard – you cannot delegitimize an entire public by demonizing it and then turn innocently to the president, asking him to invite you to form the next government. Every sin has its appropriate punishment, and you’ve committed a great sin. I’m not saying that we’ll demand that you be permanently banned from forming a government – maybe only for 10 years, to allow you a period of reeducation. Maybe you’ll learn that when speaking of human beings you don’t use the term “hordes,” a term used for other purposes. Even animals aren’t termed this way anymore.

I believe the president will accede to our demands. I believe that this nation, whose history is paved with pogroms, incitement and hatred will never allow a racist and instigator of divisiveness, who incites against Arabs and his own people (one mustn’t forget his infamous whisper to a rabbi, claiming that the left has forgotten what it is to be Jewish) to be placed at its head.

Other potential partners in the government also view us as unwanted “hordes.” One states that we are like shrapnel stuck in his rear end, another compares Palestinian children to snakes and a third, perhaps in the role of the head of the Israeli branch of ISIS, suggests no less than wielding an ax to chop off the heads of his Arab opponents (who object to being transferred). I’m sure that with such a government even the moderate right will sign the petition.

Finally, I owe the readers an apology: Last week I promised that two springs are upon us. I was wrong. Even the seasonal one is tardy and the recent rains are reminiscent of early winter. I would like to make a correction – springtime has not been abolished, only postponed. Patience, dear readers. The universe will return to its rightful track again.

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