Opinion |

Arab MKs Have Learned a Lesson From Netanyahu

Leaders of the Joint List, who are not silent for one minute when it comes to the government’s injustices, have adopted its tactics. Justice is being subverted

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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MK Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint List, Israel's only Arab-majority political party, July 2017.
Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh. Is it conceivable for him to head the roster of a party that does not keep agreements?
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

Why doesn’t Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fulfil his obligation with respect to the establishment of a Palestinian state? Because the Palestinians don’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state, because of their payments to the families of Israeli-held prisoners, because of some inflammatory remark by a second-grader in some refugee camp – and all kinds of other excuses.

It turns out that the Joint List, Israel's only Arab-majority party, has learned something from Netanyahu, and are applying it so as not to have to make good on the internal party rotation agreement they signed on the eve of the elections.

Here, as part of the Joint List, we have Ta’al, headed by MK Ahmad Tibi, which wants very much to go through with the agreement, whereby MK Osama Saadia was to have resigned over a month ago. But its leaders are now demanding that move as part of a package deal – that is, that Saadia resign at the same time as those following him on the party slate, from the Hadash and United Arab List (Islamic Movement) factions. On the other hand, the latter two want to carry out the terms of the accord, but first of all, Saadia has to resign.

It’s Netanyahu reborn on the Joint List.

Note: The agreement states, in black and white, that during the first half of the current Knesset term, five lawmakers from Hadash will serve in the parliament, along with three members of the UAL three from Balad and two from Ta’al; in the second half, there will be four MKs from Hadash, four from the UAL, four from Balad and one from Ta’al.

True, a two-year Knesset term is a trifling matter, but sometimes the essence is in the small things. And the essence is that if the representatives of the Arab public can’t implement agreements among themselves, how can they complain about the government? And if they act like wolves to each other, how can they complain about the wolves outside?

It’s unbelievable, but the leaders of the Joint List, who are not silent for one minute when it comes to the government’s injustices, have adopted the government’s tactics. To whom it may concern: Credibility is key. If Saadia doesn’t believe that those following him on the slate will resign if he resigns, so as to bring Balad's Nibin Abu Rahmoun into the Knesset, and if those who follow Saadia on the list don’t believe that he will resign if they resign – we are, as the poet Muzaffar Al-Nawab put it, “In a dark dungeon where the scorpion does not trust his friend.”

Meanwhile, as justice is being brutally subverted, the leaders of the Joint List aren't saying a word, and that’s a pity. As leader of this party, its chairman, MK Ayman Odeh must take a stand. Is it conceivable for him to head the roster of a party that does not keep agreements? A leader must express a moral stand, even when it causes him internal problems. Furthermore, what about Hadash, whose leaders historically put the public interest before that of the party? How can they lend a hand to this farce? The same question goes for the UAL and Ta’al factions' leaders.

And so, both Saadia and those following him on the party slate must resign immediately. Each one should do what is required, without waiting for the others, and their only consideration should be that justice be done. That will be their success. Because what is their membership in the Knesset worth if they are tainted with breaking an agreement? If the deal is not implemented, they will all lose; the Joint List can only dream of 13 seats in the next election.

Credibility is more valuable than gold, and it is precisely the Arabs of Israel who are especially sensitive to this issue. And they know how to penalize those who break an agreement and those who wink at others so that they will break it.

And if people ask why I air the dirty laundry? It’s because if the stink remains inside, it will choke the household. The moldy old slogan that any criticism of the Arabs is arrogance, is itself the height of arrogance, because superiority only exists when there are those who are inferior – which the Arabs are not. And so, this strange creature from the workshop of the Joint List should be closely scrutinized. The deprived have turned into the depriver.

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