Joint Arab List: Friend or Foe?

The terms “friend” and “foe” have become so subjective, Israel can no longer recognize a fifth column in its midst

Joint Arab List: Friend or Foe?
Basel Awidat/Flash90

Responding to the unprecedented cooperation between the Zionist “Blue and White” party and the anti-Zionist Joint Arab List, Avigdor Liberman, at present Israel’s “kingmaker,” said his party would not recommend Blue and White chief Benny Gantz as the next prime minister largely due to this unholy alliance. 

Liberman stated in no uncertain terms that the members of the Joint List are enemies of the Jewish state, and he will not join forces with any party that relies on enemies. “They are definitely our enemy,” said Liberman during a press conference prior to his meeting with President Reuven Rivlin, at which he declined to recommend any candidate for prime minister. “In the Israeli parliament,” he clarified, “there is a party that seeks to destroy us from within. Their place is in the Palestinian parliament, not in Israel.”

To back up his point, Liberman provided one example out of many for why the Joint List should be considered a fifth column, namely the fact that Joint List head Ayman Odeh boycotted the funeral of late-President Shimon Peres, but did pay a very public visit to the grave of Yasser Arafat. There are many more examples of Joint List lawmakers openly praising acts of terrorism against Israel and even calling for the Jewish state’s demise. 

But perhaps most telling was what Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi blurted out during his party’s meeting with Rivlin on Sunday, when he told the president of the Jewish state that “we [the Arabs] are the landlords here!”

The Arab parties make no effort to conceal their true agenda. The platforms of the parties making up the List openly state their nefarious desires. The platform of Hadash (Democratic Front for Peace and Equality), a communist party that hides behind an array of human rights and democratic goals, contains this line that exposes its real purpose: “Recognition of the Israeli Arab-Palestinians as a national minority.” This contradicts Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which states that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people alone. It also contradicts the Nation-State Law that reiterates what the Declaration of Independence says, that Israel can be the home of only one nation – the Jewish nation.

The platform of Balad (Democratic National Alliance) includes turning Israel into a non-Jewish state and the implementation of a “right of return” for the descendants of the Arab refugees who fled in 1948. The Palestinian Authority claims that today there are seven million Palestinian refugees who have the “right” to settle back in Israel. Arab Christian Azmi Bishara was the head of this party until he was caught years ago engaging in espionage on behalf of Hezbollah. Bishara escaped Israel by the skin of his teeth, thus avoiding being charged with treason. Another member of this party, Basal Ghattas, was sentenced to two years in prison for smuggling cellphones to jailed terrorists.

The platform of Ta’al (Arab Renewal Movement)–the least vitriolic of them all and the party headed by Ahmad Tibi, whose family immigrated to Israel from Syria in the 19th century, but who nevertheless has the temerity to claim ownership of this land–views dead terrorists as martyrs. It also seeks to incorporate the nationalistic identity of the Arab minority. The same goes for the smaller factions of Da’am (Arab Labor Party) and Ra’am, which is the Israeli version of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Liberman in this regard represents a great many Israelis, at the very least the constituents of all the right-wing parties, who oppose the position of the Supreme Court in permitting these seditious factions to be legitimate players in Israeli politics. Even when the Knesset Ethics Committee disqualified Balad from participating in a previous election, for example, the Supreme Court overruled this decision. The Court likewise found no justification for disqualifying any of the Joint List members, despite their vehement anti-Israel rhetoric and open collaboration with recognized terrorist organizations like Hamas. At the same time, the same Supreme Court barred two members of the Otzmah Yehudit party from running in the last election on allegations of racism against Arabs.

The Supreme Court, which more often than not reflects the worldview of the minority progressive left, leaves the question of friend or foe unresolved, and by so doing contributes nothing for efforts to remove ambiguity from Israel’s existential struggle. 

The terms “friend” and “foe” have in Israel, as well as in any country swayed by identity politics, become so subjective that it is increasingly difficult to speak about enemies at all, let alone a fifth column in our midst. While the absence of enemies is an appealing notion, until heavens come, such an approach is a tried and tested recipe for perpetuating conflicts.

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