Monday, January 12, 2009

Israel bans Arab parties taking part in forthcoming election

The United Arab List and the Balad, who between them have seven out of 120 MPs in Knesset, have both been banned from taking part in Israel's forthcoming election on the basis that they "did not recognise Israel's existence as a Jewish and democratic state", which flies in the face of both organisations' long standing advocacy of the two state solution.

The head of the UAL, Ahmed Tibi (pictured), told the BBC that "This racist government want us out of the Knesset during the war on Gaza... They are accusing us of supporting the terror while they are killing children in Gaza." Tibi added that he thought the right wing Parliamentary Parties "are willing to see the Knesset without Arabs and want to see the country without Arabs."

In fact both Arab parties are not being banned because they oppose Israel's existence, which they don't, but because they oppose Israel's bloody offensive in Gaza, Operation Cast Lead.

Haaretz thought the idea of banning the parties "reflects a dangerous level of shortsightedness and narrow-mindedness... Israel has a clear interest in not pushing these representatives out, forcing them to create an independent political system."

This is completely true. Just as the Gaza offensive will create far more terrorists than it suppresses, banning Israeli Arabs any democratic avenues will only encourage them to take undemocratic ones. Somehow it starts to make you wonder whether Israel's stated aims and their real aims are, actually, not quite the same.

5 comments:

ModernityBlog said...

"Somehow it starts to make you wonder whether Israel's stated aims and their real aims are, actually, not quite the same."

Jim, a bit sweeping for you? normally you are careful not to use such a broad generalization

surely such a statement could be made of any GOVERNMENT, including the British, French, Chinese or Sudanese, etc ?

Red Green Nick said...

I think Jim's being pretty diplomatic here.
The right seems to be firmly in charge in Israel and are telling the Arab Israelis they are an "Enemy within"

Jim Jay said...

Mod: it's true that's a statement that could be used of other governments - and indeed I have used this kind of phrase to describe them in other contexts.

I'm not particularly inclined to go into a close textual analysis of this phrase, but in essence I think people can make their own minds up and a light touch often serves as well as a sledgehammer.

Rather than go into what I think the main intent of the Israeli state is in this conflict, which would be several posts to do properly, I decided not to distract from the key message of this post - which is the banning of two fairly moderate parties on the basis that they a) are arab and b) oppose current government policy in Gaza.

I hope I can summon up the resources to do those posts, but this one has a different focus. You can have democracy - just don't get out of line.

Benjamin Solah said...

It's one of the more obvious attempts to isolate the Arab minority within Israel.

I remember one story where an Arab father gave his son a Jewish name in order to get him into a daycare close to his home and work. And when the other parents actually found out he was Arab, they pulled all of their kids out in an instant.

Racism really is quite foul.

Improvedliving said...

Jim, a bit sweeping for you? normally you are careful not to use such a broad generalization



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