Israel Palestine Infos
February 16, 2013
THE SOLE contribution of Ya’ir Lapid to Israeli folklore so far is his saying that he would not join a move to block Binyamin Netanyahu, since this would mean joining forces with “the Zuabis”.
This needs explanation to a foreign audience. The Zuabi family is a large Hamula
(extended Arab family) located in
The present member of the Knesset bearing that distinguished name is Ms. Hanin
Zuabi, the 44 year-old representative of the Arab nationalist Balad party. The
founder of the party, Azmi Bishara, left
Hanin. however, is widely hated on her own account. She has a knack of getting under the skin of Jewish Israelis. She is intentionally provocative, abrasive and infuriating. Once she was physically attacked by one of Avigdor Lieberman’s female storm troopers while making a speech from the Knesset rostrum. She did not flinch.
But her main claim to glory (or hatred) was the audacious decision to go aboard
the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara that tried to run the blockade and take supplies
She is now the pet hatred object. In a recent article, a leading journalist put
her picture next to that of Sarah Netanyahu and called them the two most hated
So if Lapid had refused to cooperate with Hanin, few Jewish Israelis would have criticized him. What aroused a storm of protest was a single letter. Lapid did not refuse to cooperate with Hanin Zuabi but with “the Zuabis” – in the plural. This was understood to mean all members of the three Arab factions in the Knesset.
“Racist!” the cry arose from many sides. “Inexcusable!”, “intolerable!”, “detestable!”
THESE CRIES might have sounded convincing, except for one fact: in all the present efforts to build a new government coalition, no one even suggested including the “Arab” factions.
There are three “Arab” factions. (“Arab” in quotes, because one of them, the communist “Hadash”, has one Jewish MK, the popular Dov Hanin. However, the voters of the party are almost all Arab. The size of its Jewish vote did actually decrease this time.)
The members of these factions live practically in a parliamentary ghetto. They function like other members, have full rights, one them is a deputy speaker and presides over sessions, in theory they can even make their speeches in Arabic, though all of them choose to speak in Hebrew.
Yet there is a glass wall between them and their colleagues. There is a tacit
agreement among the Jewish members that they should not be included in
coalitions. The closest they ever got was in 1993, when Yitzhak Rabin depended
on their support, without including them in his coalition. Without it, the
ONE MAY well ask how the Arabs got into the Knesset in the first place.
This was by no means a foregone conclusion. After all, in
There was a lively debate about this in the secret deliberations at the time of
the founding of the state in 1948. It was David Ben-Gurion who made the final
decision. He was concerned about world opinion, especially at a time when
The first Knesset was elected in January 1949, while the war was still going on
(I remember voting near the army convalescence camp where I was recovering from
my wounds). At the time, the Arabs who remained in
Ben-Gurion saw to it that the Arab citizens – while enjoying a free vote – voted for his party, Mapai. The heads of the extended families were told that life would be made miserable for them if they did not deliver the prescribed number of votes for the party. Each one was told how his people must vote – for Mapai itself or for one of the Arab factions set up by Mapai precisely for this purpose. Thus it was easy to check how each family had voted.
Without these captive votes, it would have been difficult for Ben-Gurion to set up his coalitions during his 15 years in office.
AFTER THE Naqba of the 1948 war, the remaining 200 thousand or so “Israeli Arabs” were in a state of shock. They neither had the means nor dared to oppose the government in any way.
The only exceptions were the communists. During the 1948 war, the Zionist
leadership was closely allied with Stalin, who provided us with almost all our
arms. This alliance continued for some years, until
By that time, the Israeli communist party had built up a strong position within
the Arab community in
Since no other Arab party (except Mapai’s aforementioned Arab Quislings) was
tolerated at all, the communist party enjoyed what practically amounted to a
monopoly in the Arab street. Its hold on the Arab towns and villages in
After Ben-Gurion was kicked out by his own party in 1963, the official attitude towards the Arab citizens gradually became more liberal. Military rule was officially abolished in 1966 (it was one of my first votes in the Knesset). Eventually, new Arab parties were allowed to be set up and entered the Knesset. The relations between the Arabs and the state entered a new phase – a phase very difficult to define.
As a matter of fact,
From the Law of Return, which applies only to Jews and their descendents, through the Law of Citizenship, which makes a sharp distinction between Jews and non-Jews, to dozens of minor laws which bestow privileges on people who are defined as “individuals to whom the Law of Return might apply” – there is no real equality. In practice, discrimination, open or hidden, permeates society.
Many Israelis assert that they abhor discrimination, but claim that other democratic countries do not treat their own national minorities any better.
A THIRD generation of “Israeli Arabs” is now growing up. It is no longer cowed by the government, but lives in a mental limbo. They proudly define themselves as Palestinians and support the Palestinian struggle in the occupied territories, but also are becoming more and more Israeli. Another Zuabi, Abd-al-Aziz, a member of the Knesset many years ago, coined the phrase: “My state is at war with my people”. The most prominent Arab Knesset member at present, Ahmad Tibi, once a close advisor to Yasser Arafat, is to my mind the most Israeli of all Knesset members, both in character and behavior.
Actually, Arabs are far more integrated in Israeli society than many people realize. Jewish patients in government hospitals are often unaware of the fact that the doctor and the male nurse treating them are Arabs. In football matches between Jewish and Arab teams, Jewish hooligans shout “Death to Arabs” and their Arab equals shout, with equal enthusiasm, “Allah is Great!”
A few years ago, Lieberman proposed that the Arab towns and villages located in
However, the growing bitterness of the Arab citizens is driving the Arab members to more and more extreme positions and strident utterances, while the Jewish right-wing politicians become more and more extreme in their anti-Arab racism. Thus the gulf between the two camps in the Knesset is getting wider, not narrower.
So Lapid was shrewdly courting the mainstream when he expressed his contempt for the “Zuabis”. Hanin Zuabi, of course, was flattered.