You’ll have to pardon me for asking whether a decision by the Knesset’s election committee to bar two of three Arab political parties from running in next month’s elections isn’t more reminiscent of Iran than of western democracies. The ayatollahs control who runs for the parliament and reject candidates practically because they wear the wrong color shoes and other such idiocies. Israel isn’t far behind Iran I’m afraid:
The Central Elections Committee (CEC) yesterday banned the Arab parties United Arab List-Ta’al and Balad from running in next month’s parliamentary elections amid accusations of racism from Arab MKs. Both parties intend to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court.
Members of the CEC conceded yesterday that the chance of the Supreme Court’s upholding the ban on both parties was slim.
Arab faction delegates in the CEC walked out of the hall before the vote, shouting, “this is a fascist, racist state.”
…The CEC voted overwhelmingly in favor of the motions, accusing the country’s Arab parties of incitement, supporting terrorist groups and refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
The requests to ban the Arab parties were filed by two ultra right parties Yisrael Beiteinu and National Union-National Religious Party.
Senior Labor Party figures lashed out at the party’s CEC representative, Eitan Cabel, who voted in favor of banning the two Arab parties.
This passage is filled with the most incredible set or ironies. First, the two Jewish parties who brought the complaint themselves don’t believe in Israeli democracy. Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of one of them often says publicly that Arab leaders should be strung up on lamp posts and that Israeli human rights lawyers are kapos. Delightful stuff.
Further, the LABOR PARTY’s representative to this committee voted in favor of banning the Arab parties! If this doesn’t indicate how absolutely bankrupt that party has become, I don’t know what does.
Finally, the Arabs are accused of not recognizing the state of Israel yet they are duly chosen members of Knesset. You’d think if they didn’t recognize Israel their first decision would be to boycott Knesset. Balad is accused of supporting terrorist groups because it has sent Knesset members to visit Syria and Lebanon and met with Hezbollah. A few right wingnuts tried this on Nancy Pelosi after she met with Bashir Assad in Syria. They wanted to try her for violating the Logan Act. That idea went far. But there’s a difference between the Wall street Journal advocating sheer lunacy and a duly authorized committee of the Knesset voting to eradicate the voting rights of much of the Arab minority by wiping their chosen parties from the election rolls.
And make no mistake, the flag-waving patriotism of most Israelis in the face of its savagery in Gaza is what motivates this Israeli racism against its Arab citizens. Israeli Jewish politicians see no downside in attacking the rights of the non-Jewish minority. After all, it’s open season on anyone within Israel even remotely associated with Hamas. If you love Israeli democracy this should be damn scary stuff even if the Supreme Court undoes this travesty.
Thanks to Assaf Oron for noting this story.
I find some of your reaction to this endearingly naive. This is completely in keeping with Israel’s general attitude towards its Arab citizens – after all burdening them with a raft of discriminations that can ever prevent them from enjoying the same rights as Jewish Israelis, it is only to be expected that autonomous political parties that seek to represent their political grievances would be restricted as well.
You make the mistake of thinking that Israel is like Western democracies; it is not, it is a Zionist democracy. Everything will be permitted as long as the fundamentals of Zionism are not questioned; this is the reason that Jewish parties that have no respect for democracy will never be banned (unless they start advocating large-scale violence against other Jews) while Arab parties (like the old non-Zionist Communist parties in Israel) will face numerous obstacles including occasional attempts to ban them. This makes sense from a Zionist perspective though because none of these parties really beleives in Zionism and they advocate policies which will severely undermine it.
I should clarify though that I am a bit unfair above; parties that advocate violence against anybody (Jews or Arabs)are banned in Israel as is shown by the example of the only currently banned party – Kach.
And get this from Eitan Cabel:
So he openly admits to the ban being completely frivolous and yet voted for it to make a political point. AFAIK Azmi Bishara is still the head of Balad (and hasn’t been convicted of anything), so to censure Jamal Zahalka for being “in touch with Bishara” is pure populist electioneering.
Yevno Aron says
Arabs in Greater Palestine formed three independent entities
the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
the valiant Hamas republic of Gaza
and some de-facto satrapy of Mr Abbas on the West Bank
Israeli Arabs may find these three conduits (like Ahmed Tibi did) more than enough to assert themselves
Richard Silverstein says
Magnanimous of you to suggest that on their behalf. But I think they may have their own ideas on the subject much as it might inconvenience Israeli Jews. It might be that they’d prefer to live in the land where there fathers & mothers lived & gain full rights as citizens in that land rather than the other places you so kindly suggest that they move to.
This looks like a major crackdown typically of past democracies of whom they view as a “fifth column”. The major example that springs to mind is the total snuffing of the communist parties in the US and the jailing of Eugene Debs back in WW1. It does posit many questions as to what the true purpose of this is since that (a) the two Arab parties have been rather ineffectual in blocking any initiative employed by the three major Israeli parties (b) the Arab Knesset members are far from the ideologues that live in the Diaspora and surely the Knesset members know this and (c) it takes the mettle out of the “democracy” line that Israel imbues the world with over and over.
Has there been any evidence at all that links the Arab Knesset members to the parties Israel is supposedly fighting?
Yevno Aron says
The Arabs may stay where they are.
However their patriotic feelings may be channeled through the three Palestinian states.
Sometimes people even move to other states (like in the US) to exercise their dreams.
As for Gaza just imagine all the $$ spent on the arms could be given to people, to the Gaza airport, to the Gaza seaport; no need to open any border crossings, Gaza may become a new Dubai
Electoral Ban on Arab Parties Lifted
Israel’s top court on Wednesday overruled a parliamentary panel that had barred two Arab parties from running in next month’s general elections.
The Central Elections Committee voted Jan. 12 to disqualify the parties, Balad and Ta’al, after hearing arguments that they identified with the Jewish state’s enemies and campaigned against Zionism.
Calling the ban undemocratic and racist, Arab lawmakers appealed to the High Court of Justice, which found in their favor but did not give details on its ruling.
Muslim and Christian Arabs make up about 20 percent of Israel’s 7.4 million citizens. There are 10 Arab lawmakers in the 120-seat parliament.
[comment deleted for comment rule violations–Abusive e mail addresses are no go here]