Until the Arab Parties Abandon Their Hatred of Israel, They Don’t Belong in the Government

On Sunday, thanks in part to the recommendations of the Knesset’s Arab bloc, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin tasked Benny Gantz, the leader of the centrist Blue and White party, with forming a new government. While Arab parties have sat in the Knesset for years, they have never taken part in a governing coalition. Efraim Karsh and Gershon Hacohen argue that Arab parliamentarians’ rejection of Israel as a Jewish state, and support for its enemies, should disqualify them from doing so:

[W]hen in 1965 the Central Elections Committee disqualified the Arab Socialist list, . . . which rejected Israel’s very existence, from running for the Knesset, the Supreme Court ratified that measure under the doctrine of “defensive democracy.”

Since then, and especially after the launch of the Oslo “peace process” in 1993, Israel’s Arab parties have undergone massive radicalization. Ignoring legislation forbidding unauthorized visits by Israelis to enemy states, Azmi Bishara, the founding leader of the ultranationalist Balad party (with seats in the Israeli parliament since 1999), traveled to Damascus to commemorate the death of Hafez al-Assad, one of Israel’s most implacable enemies, from where he implored the Arab states to enable anti-Israel “resistance activities,” expressed admiration for Hizballah, and urged Israeli Arabs to celebrate the terrorist organization’s achievements and internalize its operational lessons.

His Knesset peer Ahmad Tibi was beside himself with joy on meeting the deceased [Syrian] tyrant’s son, Bashar al-Assad in January 2009. . . . The following year, Tibi traveled to Libya with a delegation of Israeli Arab parliamentarians to meet the long-reigning (and soon-to-be-deposed) dictator Muammar Qaddafi, whom he lauded as “king of the Arabs.” By this time, open calls for Israel’s destruction [by Arab parliamentarians] had substituted for the 1990s’ euphemistic advocacy of this goal.

This steady ultranationalist surge was met by corresponding reluctance by the legal system to enforce the legislation designed to ensure Israel’s Jewish character. Before the February 2009 and April 2019 elections, for instance, the Supreme Court overturned the Central Elections Committee’s disqualification of Balad and vetoed the disqualification of Arab members of Knesset who have expressed “support for armed struggle, by a hostile state or a terrorist organization, against the state of Israel”—the legal threshold for disqualification. [Recently], Israeli Arab politicians’ rejection of Israel’s Jewish nature has become ever more pronounced.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Bashar al-Assad, Hafez al-Assad, Israeli Arabs, Israeli politics, Knesset


Ordinary Gazans Are Turning against Hamas—and Its Western Sympathizers

In the past few days, difficult-to-confirm reports have emerged of unrest in the Gaza Strip, and of civilians throwing stones at Hamas operatives. A recent video from Al Jazeera showed a Gazan declaring that “God will bring Qatar and Turkey to account” for the suffering of Palestinians in the current war. Being an agent of the Qatari government, the journalist turned away, and then pushed the interviewee with his hand to prevent him from getting near the microphone. Yet this brief exchange contributes much to the ongoing debate about Palestinian support for Hamas, and belies the frequent assertion by experts that the Israeli campaign is only “further radicalizing” the population.

For some time, Joseph Braude has worked with a number of journalists and researchers to interview ordinary Gazans under circumstances where they don’t fear reprisals. He notes that the sorts of opinions they share are rarely heard in Western media, let alone on Al Jazeera or Iran-sponsored outlets:

[A] resident of Khan Younis describes how locals in a bakery spontaneously attacked a Hamas member who had come to buy bread. The incident, hardly imaginable before the present war, reflects a widespread feeling of “disgust,” he says, after Gazan aspirations for “a dignified life and to live in peace” were set back by the Hamas atrocities of October 7.

Fears have grown that this misery will needlessly be prolonged by Westerners who strive, in effect, to perpetuate Hamas rule, according to one Gazan woman. Addressing protesters who have taken to the streets to demand a ceasefire on behalf of Palestinians, she calls on them to make a choice: “Either support the Palestinian people or the Hamas regime that oppresses them.” If protesters harbor a humanitarian motive, she asks, “Why don’t we see them demonstrating against Hamas?”

“Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We’ve had enough. They need to be wiped out—because if they remain, the people will be wiped out.”

You can watch videos of some of the interviews by clicking the link below.

Read more at Free Press

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion