Netanyahu’s 'Arab Droves' Remark Showed Our Black U.S. Brothers What We're Up Against

Bibi’s election remark hit a nerve with Obama. It seems the president suddenly felt that he too was a member of an excluded horde – a punching bag for the arrogant white man.

Saja Abu Fanni
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Procession of African Americans carrying signs for equal rights, circa. 1963.
Procession of African Americans carrying signs for equal rights, circa. 1963.Credit: Buyenlarge/Getty Images
Saja Abu Fanni

Al-Mutanabbi, the greatest Arab poet of all time, said: “I will spend the long night without thinking about poetry, while others will spend the night fighting over it.” And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to sleep happy and satisfied while we, with the rest of the world, were immersed in debate over whether he really apologized when he said he was sorry if his “droves” remark offended Arab citizens.

What’s the difference? There’s a big difference. Let’s say I give someone a resounding slap and then express regret that the slap hurt him, while in my heart I believe he deserved it. Expressing regret is one thing, but apologizing makes up for the action altogether.

Netanyahu expressed regret that his words hurt Arabs but didn’t denounce the words themselves. But hey, what can you say? The Arabs really did vote in droves to bring down the right-wing government.

In Arabic there is a saying: “The excuse is worse than the sin.” Today we can add: “The apology is worse than the sin.” To express regret, Netanyahu could do no better than gather together his supporters, who looked uncomfortable at that embarrassing event. He made them lose face in front of the Arabs, who, in a video, made fun of the scene by adding singing and debka dancing.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu called the Arabs representatives of population segments, denying them the status of a people. I’d like to ask Netanyahu to stop apologizing. Soon the prime minister will explain to the world that the Arabs are nothing more than a clan.

For the most part, the expression of regret was directed at the Americans. But Netanyahu forgot that they have a president of the same stripe as those “droves” over here. And it looks like the “droves” reference drove the U.S. president up the wall.

After all, every man has his weak spot, and the reference to the Arabs hit a nerve with Barack Obama. It seems he suddenly felt that beyond the posturing and tuxedos, he was no more than the member of an excluded drove, a punching bag for the arrogant white man.

So in a flash the obvious comparison was made across the ocean: The Arab over here is a member of a drove, and Obama is a member of a drove. Long live the Arab-American brotherhood of droves. Netanyahu has created for us an ally: the president of the United States.

It wasn’t just Obama. Muscles also moved in the congressional black caucus. Would Netanyahu have dared to visit the United States without coordinating with the White House if the president were white?

So the lighthearted Israeli chutzpah has become a harsh expression of arrogance and hatred of Arabs and blacks. And we’ll be there. We’ll explain to our black brothers the march led by Joint List leader Ayman Odeh through the Negev Desert for the rights of its residents, the Bedouin. They’re being brutally trampled on by the soldiers of the man who humiliated the black president. It resembles the marches by Martin Luther King Jr.

Things are stirring in Israel. Isaac Herzog strongly condemned Netanyahu’s remarks, and Zionist Union’s No. 3, Shelly Yacimovich, wasn’t far behind. Who says no one here learns anything?

The black box that is still undecipherable is Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid, whose existential struggle is with ultra-Orthodox leader Arye Dery. It seems Lapid’s public hygiene can’t tolerate corruption that’s already been paid for, but not a muscle on his face flinched when hit by the prime minister’s racist slime.

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