Benjamin Netanyahu’s election-day remarks about Arab voters may have been ill-advised, but to call him a “racist” is nonsense; even more nonsensical is the claim—being touted by some American and Israeli journalists—that “racism” won him the election. Jonathan Tobin writes:
[W]hat those venturing opinions about the election must understand is that despite the hopes of the Israeli left and its foreign supporters (including one particular fan in the White House), the basic political alignment of the country remained unchanged. The center-right and religious parties retained a clear majority over the parties of the left. Likud’s natural allies outnumber those of the left. The only way for [Labor leader Isaac] Herzog to become prime minister was to assemble an unlikely coalition of the left, secular, and ultra-Orthodox parties. Even then, he might still need the support from the anti-Zionist Arab list composed of Communists, Islamists, and radical Arab nationalists.
Contrary to the implications of Netanyahu’s statement, the increased turnout of Arab voters is a good thing for the country. Israeli Arabs should be invested in their country and take advantage of its democratic system. But the small gains by the Joint Arab List—which seems to have won thirteen seats over the eleven won by the elements of its coalition previously—won’t make much of a difference because the new Knesset members will remain in the minority. It is also a near certainty that the three factions will split once the dust settles from the election.