Discussion of Ra’am joining Israeli government misses the point – opinion


With the entry of the Ra’am party into the new Israeli coalition, there has been substantial discourse in the media about the historical ramifications of an Arab party serving in a government and not just supporting it from “outside”. Commentators analyzed the advantages for Israel’s Arab minority of having a party in the coalition to negotiate a larger slice of the national budget pie on their behalf.

Much of this discussion misses the point, for two reasons. The first is the labeling of the Arab parties that make up the United Arab List as left-wing parties. The second is the tendency to applaud the willingness of other Knesset parties to include an Arab party in the coalition as a full partner.

Regarding the first error, the notion of political right and left is a question of perspective, the definition varying according to country and nationality. For example, in the United States, the Republican Party is considered the right wing and the left wing of the Democratic Party. The Republican Party is nationalist, advocates strong national defense and American domination of world diplomacy, advocates a capitalist economy and opposes government regulations of the economy, and generally opposes welfare programs. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, opposes a nationalist view, is an advocate of strong national defense but opposes US dominance of world diplomacy, supports regulation and government intervention in the economy and is the main source of social protection programs.

Compare that to Israel, where the Likud Party and its right-wing allies are nationalists and support a strong army, but have also been a major source of Israeli government intervention in the economy, including with regard to regulations and a much of Israeli social protection legislation. Likewise, the Israeli Labor Party and its left allies have traditionally been advocates for a strong military as well as economic regulation and welfare programs. In Israel, the distinction between the right and left camps focuses almost entirely on the Palestinians and the West Bank: annexation, continued occupation or withdrawal, and two states for two people or one state with two peoples.

Likewise, the distinction between political right and left in Israel differs between the Jewish and Arab communities. The Jewish right is nationalist and advocates a state for two peoples with a Jewish majority and an Arab minority. The Jewish far right calls for a single state encompassing the entire region (Israel and the West Bank) and the expulsion of the Arab population.

The Arab parties that make up the United Arab List, including Ra’am, are also nationalists, calling for a state for two peoples, but with an Arab majority and a Jewish minority. Their far right calls for the expulsion of the Jewish minority. Neither the remaining members of the Joint List nor Raam are leftist, in the sense of Jewish right and left. The error of the Jewish side stems from the idea that any support for a Palestinian state is on the left. But is it? It depends on whether or not the post includes a Jewish state alongside the Palestinian state.

IF A NATIONALIST ideology that excludes the national rights of “the other” is right-wing, then the Israeli Arab parties are right-wing. And as for the parties with the most extremist opinions, Balad is to Arab politics what Otzma Yehudit is to Jewish politics.

If you accept the above, the following error makes sense. That is, the discussion to date of Ra’am joining the coalition from within and not just his support from the outside has assumed the following: that the breakthrough here is the willingness of the Jewish parties to allow an Arab party to be on the inside and take a ministerial portfolio. But this is not the case. The Labor Party has in the past (when it was one of the two “ruling” parties) tried to bring in the Arab parties with both feet, and the Arab parties refused. The question is, why?

Once in government, Arab parties, like haredi parties, can press the coalition for the benefit of their community. They can secure funds for their schools, roads and more, and further integrate their communities into the social and economic fabric of the country. Once inside, they could gain the much-requested recognition of unrecognized Bedouin villages, as well as power hookups for Bedouin towns that are recognized but not connected to the electricity grid (and some not connected to the water system). Assuming that the Arab rulers are just as politically astute as the Jewish rulers, we can further assume that the Arab rulers are aware of this and that by choosing not to join the coalition, they are forfeiting these advantages. These two hypotheses therefore lead to the conclusion that the forfeiture of the benefits is deliberate.

Given their nationalist orientation, Arab parties do not want Arab Israelis to integrate into Israeli society. They prefer to stay outside, poor and bitter. Arab nationalists oppose the integration of Palestinians into Arab society and the integration of Arab Israelis into Israeli society. They are better prepared for the revolution against the Zionist entity. This is why the leader Ra’am Mansour Abbas has been accused by the other Arab parties of treason. While Arab nationalists advocate segregation, Abbas is moving towards integration.

The success of Ra’am’s entry into the coalition, and not just his support from the outside, is the recognition by an Arab-Israeli leader, Abbas, of the strength and viability of the Jewish state and the likelihood that it will exist. ‘it is not replaced by a Palestinian state. soon. It is a recognition that the time has come for the Arab leaders of Israel to recognize the state and represent their constituency not by calling for the dismantling of the state, but for the integration of this constituency into Israeli society. .

The time has come for a reduction in the poverty of the Arab minority and its integration into the economy of Israel. It is time for Israeli Arabs to take part in running the country: social, economic and, yes, even military (as the Druze people have already done).

The writer teaches marketing and management at the Jerusalem College of Technology and is vice president of the business administration department at Touro College Israel, where he teaches finance.

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