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Israel Election: An Arab Teams Up With Corrupt Netanyahu, and Folks Are Ecstatic

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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Mansour Abbas, head of the conservative Islamic Raam party, March 2021.
Mansour Abbas, head of the conservative Islamic Raam party, March 2021.Credit: AHMAD GHARABLI - AFP
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

Judging by the media reactions to last week’s speech by Mansour Abbas, the head of the United Arab List, many people saw it as an effort to reach out to Jewish society. The truth is that it was reaching out to Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, leaders of the right-wing Religious Zionism party, in the hope that they will agree to bring him under the umbrella of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. That didn’t prevent the much-courted Smotrich from tossing Abbas’ gesture into the trash can.

An Arab poet once said: “When you respect a decent person – you capture his heart; when you respect a scoundrel – he rebels.” Israel is no different. Judging by Abbas’ enthusiasm, we can assume that we will be seeing him yet serenading Smotrich beneath his window.

The press noted that it was the contacts between UAL and Likud that led to Mansour’s much talked-about speech. Who knows, maybe the entire election campaign – including the disgraceful attack by UAL and its supporters against the Joint List alliance of predominantly Arab parties from which the UAL withdrew ahead of the election, claiming that it doesn’t respect the “conservative” values of Arab society – is a result of the contacts between UAL and Likud.

After all, the same methods of incitement and demonization that are typical of Likud were adopted in the Arab street. For example, a notice was published containing photos of independent Arab journalists, with the caption: “Communist symbol!” As though to say, in a paraphrase of a famous statement, see how the left has forgotten what it means to be an Arab.

However, the enthusiasm demonstrated by Abbas in the effort to prepare himself to join Bibi’s camp is nothing compared to the enthusiasm of the Jewish journalists who raced en masse to cover his speech. They left behind their critical and investigative instincts, and their skepticism. They all praised the speech – both before and after.

But, folks, what’s all the fuss about? The man just wants to join forces with a prime minister who is under criminal indictment – and that’s what you’re celebrating? Really? With all due respect, you’ve become a joke. You get enthusiastic about a speech by a public official who doesn’t even mention his Palestinian origin? Is that how you want to see the Palestinians – lacking in national dignity? It seems that even people with progressive and enlightened opinions are adopting Benjamin Netanyahu’s perception of the “ultimate” Arab. Here there’s no left and no right. Netanyahu is signaling that there’s another Ayoub Kara (a Druze Likud MK) in the neighborhood, and you run after him like crazy.

More than Abbas’ revelation of his views, your reactions revealed the nature of your attitude toward Arabs. Admit it! Deep inside, even the most democratic among you want allies like Abbas who are willing to divide their people and seek a seal of approval from fascists – someone with whom you don’t want to spend even a single moment.

In order to accentuate the hypocrisy of this behavior, ask yourselves what your reaction would be if the leader of Meretz were to request a seal of approval from these racists. But there’s no need to resort to theoretical assumptions – after all, you justifiably turned Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz into the ultimate punching bag, when he joined that same man under criminal indictment.

That’s the essence of hypocrisy: When an Arab hastens to join the man charged with major crimes, who also incites and divides, he is considered courageous and arouses excitement. On the other hand, you reject Joint List members Ayman Odeh, Ahmad Tibi and Sami Abu Shehadeh, who with national pride have joined the spearhead in the fight against Netanyahu and his racist surroundings.

Although the Military Government has disappeared, its spirit still dwells in your souls. You prefer the good Arab, who not only conceals his national affiliation, but is also proud of being an Arab who’s owned by the Jewish state – one of “Israel’s Arabs.”

There is always a price to pay; the celebration is coming to an end. On Sunday the evidentiary stage in Netanyahu’s trial began. Abbas, at whose expense you have celebrated, will yet become aware that it’s all nonsense, that Bibi is a lame duck leader, that the moment that it suits him – he’ll abandon Abbas. Instead of warning Abbas to behave wisely and not abandon his own people, you’re blinding him with flashes of fake glory.

Abbas is sinking in the mud that surrounds the prime minister’s circles – and you’re applauding him. What a pity.

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