Israel’s Game-Changing Arab Politician Speaks

Feb. 18 2022

Mansour Abbas, the deputy speaker of the Knesset, last year made the United Arab List (UAL or Ra’am) the first Arab party to join an Israeli governing coalition—breaking with the other Arab parties and ending a boycott as old as the Jewish state itself. Last week, he was interviewed by Robert Satloff and David Makovsky under the auspices of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel, centrist think tank. While Abbas no doubt calibrated his words to his audience, his statements, delivered in Hebrew, carry great import. (A complete video of the interview can be found at the link below.)

If we look at Arab politics inside the state of Israel, we have seen ourselves always as an opposition party. It doesn’t matter who is in government, left or right, we have always seen ourselves in opposition. We have always said we want to see a partnership first and then we will see how to continue. We want to see the change and then we will see how we can help.

Now Ra’am, my party, says the exact opposite. . . . We say that [Arabs] cannot expect a change if [Arabs and Jews] are always opposed to each other and if we don’t talk to each other in a serious way. Now UAL says that despite these disputes, we first of all want to create a partnership and to address the points of contention within this partnership.

I have done politics my entire life, but for many years I didn’t want to join the coalition. So we don’t have the experience of what it means to be a member of a coalition or even of the government. Being in a coalition requires discipline. You have to support decisions that you don’t like, while trying to obtain certain concessions. Arab society is not used to this.

Jews and Arabs can live together when this state incorporates the Arab minority without sacrificing our identity or forgoing the initial rights of Jews.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Israeli Arabs, Israeli politics, Knesset, Mansour Abbas

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism