By Bringing an Arab Party into the Government, Israel Fulfilled Part of Vladimir Jabotinsky’s Vision

On Monday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid announced their decision to dissolve the government and call for new elections—the fifth since 2019. Much ink will be spilled about the successes and failures of the unusual coalition led by Bennett and Lapid and why it collapsed after only a year in power. Einat Wilf attends to the fact that, of the eight disparate parties it brought together, one was the Islamist Ra’am, the first Arab party to be included in an Israeli government. Wilf points out that Ra’am’s participation in the outgoing coalition is in fact a realization of the ideas set forth by the great Zionist thinker Vladimir Jabotinsky, in his seminal essay “On the Iron Wall.”

Jabotinsky did not believe that the Zionists were destined to live always by the sword. Once the Arabs truly accepted the existence of the Jewish state, Jews and Arabs would govern together. On the other side of the Iron Wall, he believed in a highly liberal vision for the emergent state where “in every cabinet where the prime minister is a Jew, the vice-premiership shall be offered to an Arab, and vice-versa.”

Israel is closer today than it has ever been in its history to realizing the goal of full acceptance in a predominantly Arab and Islamic region. The Abraham Accords present a compelling alternative Arab-Muslim narrative, one that embraces the Jewish state as an integral part of the region rather than a foreign implant.

Similarly, [Ra’am’s leader] Mansour Abbas has given political voice to the Arab citizens of Israel who seek true integration into the Jewish state. Those are the Arab citizens who are volunteering in increasing numbers to serve in the Israel Defense Force. Those are the Arab citizens who defend Israel in diplomatic forums and on social media against its detractors. These developments reflect very real achievements of Jabotinsky’s Iron Wall. Many Arab Israelis do not seek the country’s destruction. They support, and participate in, its success.

But these achievements remain fragile. Abbas’s political rival among Israel’s Arab political leaders, Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List (an alliance of Arab parties), recently told young Israeli Arabs not to join the “occupation forces.” Odeh described Abbas’s conduct as “insulting and humiliating.” . . . Odeh represents a substantial number of Israel’s Arab citizens, if not the majority. . . . While positive signs of acceptance need to be celebrated, it would be unwise to ignore or explain away indications to the contrary.

Read more at State of Tel Aviv

More about: Israeli Arabs, Israeli politics, Mansour Abbas, Vladimir Jabotinsky

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict