It’s hard not to be astounded by the ability of Israeli Arab leaders to push their voters into the dark corner where the government sometimes traps them. The Balad and Hadash leaders’ objection to Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states defining Hezbollah as a terror group is a ringing example of this.
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The stupefying thing, the idiocy even, in their position contains two components. When Hezbollah threatens to strike an ammonia plant in order to kill Israeli civilians, this threat is also directed at Arab citizens who live in and around Haifa, many of whom would surely be killed by the blast. Could it be that the representatives of the Balad and Hadash parties are willing to accept this, just as long as Jews are killed too?
One can understand and accept the desire of Arab leaders to express a stance and influence Arab policy in the region. But they’ve provided a convoluted explanation: Their position is meant to support the struggle against the occupation and criticize Saudi Arabia, which they see as a friend of the West and a partner of Israel. This explanation does not jibe with reality.
Saudi Arabia is certainly no beacon of human rights, and its regional policy is also controversial. But given the mass slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians – in which Hezbollah is taking part with the Assad regime – the tortuous explanation offered by the Balad and Hadash leaders doesn’t provide their position any logical footing.
It hardly needs stating that Hezbollah isn’t fighting the Israeli occupation in the West Bank, that it brazenly controls Lebanon, and that it tends to view Israel’s Arab community as collaborators with the occupation because they’re not waging an intifada.
But it’s not just the absence of diplomatic logic that makes the Balad and Hadash leaders’ announcement condemnable. With their own hands, they are crushing Israeli Arabs’ struggle for equal rights and recognition of their unique status in the Jewish state.
Not only did they play right into the hands of far-right leaders, who need no further proof that Israeli Arabs are enemies of the Jewish people and the Jewish state. They also boosted that half of Israeli Jews who, according to a Pew survey, want to see Arabs expelled from the country, as well as the Jewish majority that supports preferential treatment for Jews.
Balad and Hadash, whose representatives make up the bulk of the Joint Arab List in the Knesset, painted all Israeli Arabs with one brush, with no consideration for the severe repercussions their declaration could have. These repercussions will adversely affect all Israeli Arab citizens – who weren’t asked for their opinion.