Palestinians(Arabs) role in the Israeli Elections Campaign
As we approach the Israeli elections day, each party has a limited period of time to share their vision and goals to the public. Posters, advertisements, online commercials and flyers are being distributed to inform and convince voters. As a member of the Palestinian minority in Israel with a right to vote, I want to know what each party has to offer me and my minority in the state. But first
A Very Short Guide to Israeli Elections 2015
Just to help those who are not familiar with the Israeli Elections. There are 11 parties running for seats (up to 120) in the Knesset (Parliament). Currently, these parties can be largely divided into two camps: right-wing and left-wing as follows. These distinctions refers to each party’s view and position largely in regards to Zionism and Democracy. The right wing is a nationalist position that calls for Israel as Jewish first, and then democratic. The left-wing say the opposite, that Israel is democratic more than it is Jewish. The center camp is not conclusive, and therefore the distinction becomes whether a party is center-left or center-right. Here is a list of the parties and the number indicates the estimate number of seats they are expected to receive according to Haaretz polls.
Left: United Arab List - Oude (12), Meretz - Galon (5)
Center-Right: Zionist Union - Livni & Burg(24), Yesh Atid - Lapid (12)
Right: Likud - Netanhayu (23), Jewish Home - Bennet (12), Kulanu - Kachlon (8), Yisrael Beytenu - Lieberman (6), Shas-(7), United Torah Judaism - (7), Yachad - Yishai4
Here is a list of roles the parties seem to categorize Palestinians as,
1. Radical Terrorists
This category wins the jackpot. It seems to be the most-popular category for Palestinians. There are so many to choose because many parties seem to generalize us as violent and killers.
Although this video has been deleted due to copyrights, it portrays a strong view of what the current leading part perceives Palestinians are. In this video, a group of ISIS are on their way to Jerusalem and they have a sticker on the back of the vehicle that says, “Anyone but Bibi”.
Interestingly, the lyrics of the song chosen for this video are about the Israeli occupation, and not radical Islam, but again the Likud party is not interested in making this distinction. To hear the full song with English subtitles click here. (warning, some of the language used is not appropriate for children)
In this video, the spokesperson is trying to speak on behalf of the Palestinians. The first states that the Holocaust Is the same as the Nakba. Then, it shows footage of the Holocaust compared to footage of Palestinians throwing stones at the IDF. Next the text states that they applaud IDF soldiers who refuse to serve. And the footage is of protesters. Final text states that so long as there is occupation, there will be terror. And the footage of Palestinian terrorists holding guns and marching. So, basically we are violent and seeking any opportunity to annihilate Israelis.
Apparently, Israel fights for democracy, freedom of speech, dignity and freedom on behalf of London, Paris and Madrid. Too bad Israel can’t do the same for its own minorities.
2. War Criminals
The Jewish Home party presents how previous governments have released so many Palestinian prisoners in exchange for negotiations. The whole time, the number count on the screen shows how many have been released. In the same video, you see Palestinians in the streets giving out candy and celebrating the acts of these prisoners.
This video calls for the death penalty to terrorists. It is not clear with the wording which prisoners is the law going to be applied to. For more information regarding Palestinians prisoners in Israel, visit here
3. Financial Investors
This video shows how the Labour party wants to get rid of Netanyahu, and in it they claim that some of the funds coming to the head of the Zionist Union’s party come from Palestinians, among other sources. That is a new one for me to hear!
4. A Dangerous Threat
This video from Naftali Bennet attempts to show that the Labour party is anti-Israel by accusing them to have a hidden agenda. The first quote is from a Labour party member who said that the “national anthem is a racist song.” The second is from a party member who “suggests uniting Holocaust remembrance day with Nakba day.” The third “calls for mothers not to send their children to the IDF.” The fourth “affirms his Palestinian identity is stronger than his Israeli identity.” All of these statements have been categorized as a warning to all and, according to Bennett, it is no wonder that Herzog says that “a Jewish state is a completely misleading term”.
In this video, Haneen Zoabi who is a member of the Israeli Knesset calls herself Palestinian. The video then concludes that if she feels this way, then she should go live in Palestine. Arabs in Israel are Palestinians and the Israeli public perceives it as a threat to the state. Furthermore, how can she move to Palestine if Palestine does not exist? Yisrael Beytenu is against the establishment of the state of Palestine. Isn't the video suggesting that she should be stripped of her rights as an Israeli citizen and live under Israeli occupation?
The same party from the previous video is resonating the same logic to a whole city Um Elfahem in the Triangle area claiming that if citizens want to call Israel's Independence as Nakba (Catastrphe) then they too should move to live in Palestine.
Israel is portrayed as a garden, and the Gardner needs to keep the weeds out. So he refers to Haneen Zoabi (Israeli Arab Member of Knesset) as a hostile weed. Ahmab Tibi (Israeli Arab Member of Knesset) as an intrusive weed. Muhamad Zahalka (Israeli Arab Member of Knesset) as a toxic weed, and ISIS cells as harmful too. Notice how Israeli Arab members of Knesset and ISIS are grouped as the same, and how they perceive their fellow citizens and members of government officials: harmful and toxic. He then pulls them out and throws them away on the floor! He doesn't throw them onto another garden!
5. Team player
This is one of the few videos that seems to show Palestinians in a positive light. Issawi, who is number 3 on Meretz' candidates list, dances and sings just like the rest of the party members. The chorus says "I'll just have good times, not bad times, everything is possible, it is a matter of choice."
6. Victims of Racism
This is a compilation of various reports on incidents of attacks and discrimination against different minorities in Israel, among them the Palestinians.
Most of the videos shown above come mainly from right-wing parties, two of which are expected to have a significant voting success. This means that whoever the leader will be, his or her government is going to have a coalition with right-wing parties. In a way, these videos reflect the expected leadership’s views and positions in regards to Palestinians.
How will we be able to live in peace as Palestinians if the dominant images we have are negative?
How can Israeli-Palestinians find a voice that represents us, when the loudest ones vilify us and capitalize on our people’s suffering and marginalisation? It is true that not all the categories are negative (5 and 6 are the voices of the minority left-wing parties).
The right-wing parties are clear where the Palestinian stands in relation to them. A Palestinian is a hostile enemy and they seem to continue their vision and goals on such premises. Many racist slurs are coming from a leadership level, and that is alarming!
As a Palestinian citizen of Israel, I see myself as an inseparable part of Israeli society. It saddens me that the Israeli Jewish majority perceives Palestinians as criminals and terrorists. Seemingly, the larger parties are not interested in a meaningful long-lasting peace initiative. Although my voice is in the minority, I have hope that one day it will become mainstream. I choose to believe that. As a Palestinian, I want to live in this country alongside Israeli Jewish citizens in mutual respect and in long lasting peace. On March 17, I will cast my vote with the minority left-wing parties that choose to focus on the majority of the Palestinian people who are dancers and team players.