Opinion

Israel's Arab Politicians Have Become the Kosher Seal of the Jewish Race

Partnership with Arabs is not just an accusation, slander or low blow that can wreck a 'democratic' Jewish party. It’s a separation wall

File photo: Members of the Joint List at the Knesset, October 15, 2018.
David Bachar

The cleanser has yet to be invented that could remove the terrible stain tarnishing the past of the Labor Party, to judge by the latest outbursts from Miri Regev and Yoav Galant. “I am sure that Ben-Gurion is turning over in his grave when he sees what is happening… when Rabin went with [Islamist leader] Ra’ed Salah and when Bougie [Isaac Herzog] made a surplus votes agreement with the Arabs,” Regev told Oded Ben-Ami in an interview, two days after Gallant said similar things on Channel 13’s “Hamateh Hamerkazi” program.

Facts are totally beside the point, of course, while lies can be incredibly effective. For who wouldn’t believe that Labor, or any other opposition party, made or would make a surplus vote agreement with the Arabs? Even more fascinating to watch is the panic that gripped Labor. “Gallant is a brazen liar. The only surpluses we’re familiar with is the excess sand from the dubious castle he built,” the party’s spokespeople retorted, sprinkling a little detergent to dilute the stain. Labor and the Arabs? No way. Not in the past, present or future!

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And Labor isn’t the only party showing such aversion to any hint that it might have something cooking with the Arabs. The leader of the new political entity called Kahol Lavan explained in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, “I will not rule out anyone who is a Zionist and can interact with the government. The Arabs are citizens of this country. I drive six minutes from here to eat in Kafr Qasem.” This was Benny Gantz’s response when asked if he would sit in a government with Arabs. It shows us one thing, at least: If the Arabs of Kafr Qasem serve food at the cabinet meeting, he will sit down with them. This, too, is interaction.

Partnership with the Arabs is not just an accusation, slander or low blow that can wreck a “democratic” Jewish party. It’s a separation wall, made of concrete reinforced by the consensus, that distinguishes between those who’ve forgotten how to be a Jew and all the rest. More than 20 percent of the population is tainted with an impurity that mustn’t be allowed in. As is anyone who so much as dares to contemplate gathering the Arab leftovers onto his plate, let alone forging a partnership with them.

The efforts to correct the record and prove the lies of Regev, Netanyahu and Gallant only exacerbate the disgrace. I have never had an Arab sister, cries Labor; I shall never have such a sister, declares Kahol Lavan. Of course not – that sister has already been legally executed to preserve Jewish family honor. What point is there in Gantz’s promise to “fix” the nation-state law, when he himself glorifies the kind of reality the law intends to establish?

But the Arabs are not just a fifth column out to destroy the State of Israel. They’ve now been given a new role as definers of Jewish nationalism. They rank the levels of Israeli patriotism and Zionist sentiment. Every Jewish leader and every Zionist party must come equipped with a political Geiger counter that will give ample warning if they are getting too close to the dangerous Arab-vote fallout.

The paradox is that the Arabs have thus become the partners of the settlers in defining the identity of Israeli society and of the government. In both cases, you have population groups that live “beyond the fence.” One, the settlers, dictates the country’s Jewish identity from its position in occupied territory, while the other, the Arabs, gives rise to the Jewish consensus from within their social ghetto. Those wrapped between these extremes, the country’s Jewish population, are left to define their ideology based on where they stand in relation to these poles. The Arabs, who only wanted political partnership, have gained new standing and now find themselves in the role of giving the kosher seal of approval for the Jewish race.