The Court Arabs

Like the court Jews of the Diaspora, there are our court Arabs. They give a bad name to opportunism and a worse name to their own people.

When a distinguished foreign delegation would come to Israel, Shimon Peres would ask us, his aides, to make sure also to invite sheikhs Jabr Moade and Hamad Abu-Rabiah. Peres wanted his guests "to see some kaffiyehs in the audience." That was a long time ago. Many words and much blood, too, has flowed since them. Abu-Rabiah was murdered by Moade's sons over a Knesset seat and Israel's Arabs established their own nationalist parties. Nevertheless, 13,000 Israeli Arabs joined Kadima - entire clans - who yesterday chose the country's next prime minister. Like the court Jews of the Diaspora, they are our court Arabs. They give a bad name to opportunism and a worse name to their own people.

A good Arab is not an Arab who joins Kadima, Likud or even Labor. Most of Kadima's Arab voters have already been in all of them; such is the relationship between national minorities and the government. A good Arab cannot support those parties that are directly responsible for discrimination, occupation and the killing of their people. However, it turns out that distress leads to disgrace: election corruption instead of struggle, collaboration instead of national pride. One can believe in coexistence without being ingratiating; one can promote the issues of the community without acting in a corrupt manner, and one can even work toward equal rights without ridiculous photo ops with Shaul Mofaz and Avi Dichter.

It is true that support for Mofaz led to the opening of a vehicle registration bureau in Daliat al-Carmel, and perhaps the contractor from the "triangle" of Arab towns in central Israel who joined Kadima to promote the construction of a shopping mall in his city will get what he wants. But vote contractors and clan heads buying and selling votes and national dignity for a mess of pottage is a shameful sight.

It is not easy to be an Israeli Arab. With a state that is not loyal to them and an army that kills their people, with the aspiration to integrate and get the most out of the country that was forced on them, they are between a rock and a hard place. A visit by a cabinet minister on the eve of elections, always just on the eve of elections, in their living room, will not change this. On the contrary. Their sellout will only perpetuate the humiliating attitude to them: They turn it into the attitude they deserve.

After all, no one suspects that even one Arab would join Kadima because of its ideology. But even if personal and sectorial interests are involved, it may be recalled that the huge contribution for the soccer stadium in Sakhnin was raised by MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) and not by Science, Culture and Sports Minister Raleb Majadele (Labor). Perhaps Mofaz will bring a shopping mall and Dichter a parking lot, but the stench will rise from afar and rights will continue to be trampled.

We thought that the time for these good Arabs was behind us; that a new generation had arisen imbued with political and nationalist consciousness, who would no longer bow their heads before the authorities like their parents had done, shocked from the trauma of the Nakba. It turns out that the joy was premature: There is still a large number of Arabs who have not recovered. It is difficult to judge the older generation, but the "generation of the state" must free themselves of these corrupt patterns. To do so, it would be enough for these "pet Arabs" to hear the cynical manner they are spoken about by their patrons, the Jewish party hacks who bought their votes on the cheap, at the clearance sale of national dignity.