One of the factors that pushed the erstwhile Israeli opposition leader Benny Gantz into coalition talks with his rival, Benjamin Netanyahu, was his realization that some members of his own party would defect if he were to form a coalition with the alliance of Arab parties known as the Joint List. Thus, despite having won fifteen Knesset seats in the most recent election—thanks to high voter turnout and its effective consolidation into a single bloc—the Joint List has thus missed an opportunity for an unprecedented role in the government. And the fault is solely its own, writes Jonathan Tobin:
The Joint List is a coalition of advocates for a Communist state, an Islamist state, a Palestinian nationalist state and a pan-Arab state, and has no place in any government of a state that they wish to destroy.
If Israeli Arabs want to be fully integrated into Israeli society and have their voices not merely heard but heeded, then they need to have political representatives that advocate for that cause. Instead, they have chosen people whose goal isn’t an Israel that is a better place for its Arab minority; instead, they have representatives that want to deny the Jewish majority their right to self-determination in a Jewish state.
Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza have settled for being led by groups like Fatah and Hamas, who are only interested in keeping them at war with Zionism, rather than in creating an independent Palestinian state. The same can be said for Israeli Arabs who vote for confrontation with Zionism by electing the Joint Arab List as opposed to a party that would be dedicated to their well-being and interests. Unfortunately, there is no such party competing for Arab votes.
Seen in that light, the failure of the Joint Arab List is not in their being denied a place in Israel’s government, as critics claim. It’s that it has become the greatest obstacle to mutual coexistence for Jews and Arabs. That isn’t evidence of Israeli racism, but it is a tragedy.