Imagine that on a United States election day the candidate for the presidency urges the white citizens of the country to get out and vote so as to outnumber the African American voters who are flocking to the polling station. It is almost a certainty that such a statement would result in the downfall of this candidate and the disgrace of his or her party.

In Israel on the other hand, Benjamin Netanyahu, who was campaigning for the Prime Minister position for the fourth time, decided that the best tool to urge the majority of the citizens of Israel to vote is by threatening them with the influx of the “Arab” voters. The statement by Prime Minister is disturbing both because of the racism itself, and also because of the fact that such a statement proved to be an effective tool, seen by many analysts as the reason for the sweeping victory of his Likud party.

In the allegedly only democratic state in the Middle East, the Palestinian citizens of the State of Israel were considered a threat because they were exercising one of the fundamental rights in a democracy and that is “The Right to Vote.” The Palestinian minority of the State of Israel who constitute around 20% of the entire population are seen from the Prime Minister’s perspective as an imminent threat to the existence of the State of Israel, and are thus put in the same threat category as ISIS and Iran.

Ever since the establishment of the State of Israel, the rights of citizenship of the Palestinian population have been minimal. Their rights as a cultural minority were never respected or acknowledged, and their political and civil rights have been severely restricted. Their inequality has been institutionalized in the State’s establishments through privileging the Jewish citizens over the Palestinians. They have been distrusted at every turn.

The results of the 2015 are the direct outcome of the racist political culture that has been brewing in Israel for the last couple of decades. The subtle discrimination against the Palestinian citizens became a public contest between most of the Jewish Israeli parties running in the election. The coalition between Livni and Herzog resulted in the birth of the Zionist party, which has insisted on many occasions that it would not include the Arab party in a government coalition. In a televised pre-election debate between the running parties, and in response to Odeh’s (the head of the Palestinian joint parties) statement that the Palestinians in Israel constitute 20% of the total population, Lieberman, the Israeli Foreign Minister, declared “for now” referring to his population transfer proposal which recommended transferring the Palestinian populated areas to the Palestinian Authority. Additionally, Lieberman suggested that Odeh go and run for election in the Gaza Strip. Lieberman expects the Palestinian minority to accept his right to leave Russia and come and live in Israel, while he refuses to respect the rights of those Palestinians to live un-harassed in their ancestral home.

Throughout the debate and during the election campaign, Odeh, reiterated the goal of the Joint list is to fight for equal rights. He also proposed a new Israel where democratic values to “All” citizens are appreciated and respected; few of the Israeli majority entertained the idea.

The election results have confirmed that the left in Israel is disappearing and has highlighted the fact that the Israeli majority is swaying between an extreme right and a centrist right. This as a result provides a bleak horizon for the Palestinian minority of Israel.

I conclude with Tocqueville’s warnings of the “Tyranny of the Majority” as it bleakly resonates the case of Israel today:

Under the absolute government of one man, despotism tried to reach the soul by striking crudely at the body… Tyranny in democratic republics does not proceed in the same way, however. It ignores the body and goes straight for the soul. The master no longer says: You will think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do. You may keep your life, your property, and everything else. But from this day forth you shall be as a stranger among us. You will retain your civic privileges, but they will be of no use to you. For if you seek the votes of your fellow citizens, they will withhold them, and if you seek only their esteem, they will feign to refuse even that. You will remain among men, but you will forfeit your rights to humanity. When you approach your fellow creatures, they will shun you as one who is impure. And even those who believe in your innocence will abandon you, lest they, too, be shunned in turn. Go in peace, I will not take your life, but the life I leave you with is worse than death.” (Democracy in America)

3 thoughts on “The Arabs Are Coming!

  1. Thanks for a well written piece Nahed.

    We feel the racist political culture you mentioned in your
    article, on a daily bases. My fear is that this is only the beginning. Israel
    is pushing to be recognized as a Jewish State and not only a State for the
    Jews. What would this mean to us the Palestinians with Israeli citizenship? If
    now Netanyahu can publicly consider exercising our right to vote is a threat
    and won many votes as a result. If now Lieberman who first arrived in Palestine
    1n 1974 plans to reduce the number of Palestinians to less than the present 20%,
    if this happens in what is called the only Democracy in the Middle East, then
    what is going to happen to us when it is
    declared as a Jewish State? What rights would we have? Are we expected to live
    in a constant fear of deportation and repeating what happened in 1948? Are we
    expected to live in a constant fear of losing our land, our identity, our
    history, our culture, our language? Are
    we going to be left with life worse than death as you quoted Tocqueville?

    These questions are being asked by each and every one of us
    and we do not see a light at the end of the tunnel, in fact we do not see the

    But in no way we will accept living as second class citizen
    in our land and we will not leaving it.

    1. I think that it is notable that many Israeli citizens, Jewish and Palestinian, along with Palestinians in and beyond the occupied territories, and also along with the Jews of the diaspora, recognize that the present hegemonic path is leading to a disaster, with great suffering and injustice. I think it is clear from the posts by Ben Yehuda, Ish-Shalom and Habiballah, and the responses to them, that there are grounds for common action. The Israeli left and those parties of the Unity list need to act together in solidarity with common interests, and they need to interact effectively with supporters beyond Israel Palestine. If they would act upon their common interest for democracy and equal rights with full recognition and dignity for all, there may not be clear light at the end of the tunnel, but a least the tunnel would be in clear sight. I know this may seem naive to the cynic, or those who see the conflict purely in geopolitical terms but such cynicism and realpolitik are forms of resignation.

  2. hey nahed, your article was clear and right on the spot
    its so shameful although the israelies flatten it

    this poor victim of persecution is victimizing others
    it seems the traumatic victim had not learned empathy or the value of any life, but did learn manipulating guilt and fear, world wide in his interest. the world does not grasp that- its the tyrrany of the weak
    let me clear a minor issue
    noa had 3 sons ham, sam and japheth
    ham is the father of african nations
    japheth is the father of european nations
    and sam, the father of the nations of the east
    sam had 5 sons- elam, asshur, lud, aram, and arphaxad the father of abraham the patriarche of hebrews as well as arabs
    i may not be a jew but certainly am semitic

    if that so- why is it so obvious that antisemitism is exercised ulimately and only on jews?
    i have witnessed the use of any minor mistreatment on every pedestal possible to gain empathy and legitimacy to their narrative only, while denying the other. it is only more sad that the whole world is brainwashed. this child reminds on every occasion that he is a beaten child, to capital on the max. he always reminds everybody of the rules, the first to pinpoint anything that threatens his game, calling for justice and support provided to the weak, protecting the victim- him of course. yet he may rudely breaks any rule, some of which are basic human values and basic morals and ethics of any civilized society.

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