Arabs Share Opposing Views as Israel Sees First Joint Arab List

NAZARETH, March 17, 2015 (WAFA) – Polling stations opened in Israel on Tuesday morning to choose the formation of country’s 20th Knesset, amid heated controversy among Arab politicians and activists in Israel regarding the feasibility of their participation, even in the shape of a vote that has finally seen the first and long awaited united Arab list.

While supporters of the United Arab List, which brought together for the first time four smaller parties, say their participation is a prerequisite for enacting legislations that would defend their cause, others who decided to boycott say the Israeli parliament is a place where Zionists constitute an overwhelming majority, which undermines the potential of a real change in public policy.

Mouad al-Khateeb, an Arab activist from Kafr Kanna who was keen on his position to boycott, said on his facebook page, “In fact, even if all Arab citizens vote in favor of the Joint Arab List, they will not be able to form a majority that is capable of tipping the scale in favor of Arabs.”

Al-Khateeb, who is not alone in his pessimistic opinion, says that the Israeli parliament wouldn’t have been created should it had not been for the Zionists and their fanatic laws.

“At the end of the day, the majority will decide [on everything], and in the Knesset the majority is composed of Zionists; such a majority will not tolerate the enactment of any laws in favor of Arabs, whether at the social, economical or service level, and of course at the political one.”

On the other hand, Mohammad Nidal Mahamid, an Arab resident of Kafr Qasem and a social activist who was eager to vote, posted an urgent call on his facebook page fervently asking friends and followers to head to polling stations to choose the United Arab List.

“The Knesset is the place where we can defy the fascist “Dobermann,” he said, using the name of the German dog “Dobermann” which sounds like “Lieberman”, Israel’s far-right Foreign Minister.

“It is where we can abolish and reject [racist] laws, even before they are drafted and presented for approval,” he said referring to the Knesset, which is the equivalent of a parliament in other countries.

“If we are to throw out this “fascist” [Lieberman] from the decision-making arena, we have to turn out tomorrow and in large numbers to give our votes to the Joint Arab List,” Mahamid urged his followers.

This year’s parliamentary elections is the first where Arab parties are united in one coalition, composed of the National Democratic Assembly (Balad), the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash), the southern branch of the Islamic Movement, and the Arab Movement for Renewal (Ta’al).

Meanwhile, the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, Abna’ al-Balad party, and the Kefaya Movement decided to boycott, citing the same reasons which many others stated.

An example to the Israeli government’s racist approach against Arab residents manifested in October 2000, when Israeli police used live ammunition against unarmed civilians demonstrating their solidarity with Palestinians in the occupied territories. Thirteen Palestinians, of whom twelve were Israeli citizens, were shot dead.

An official commission, headed by Judge Theodor Or, was appointed and confirmed that the police used “excessive” and unjustifiable force, adding that police viewed the country’s Arab citizens as “enemies” and documented a pattern of “prejudice and neglect” towards them by Israel’s establishment.