December 8, 2019

THE FIGHT FOR ISRAEL'S DEMOCRATIC SOUL:

For the Israeli right, Jewish-Arab partnership is the stuff of nightmares: As far as Israel's right is concerned, the very real possibility that the country will be led by a Jewish-Arab partnership is the greatest threat of all. (Eli Bitan December 7, 2019, +972)

In such a government, the ultra-Orthodox parties wouldn't be able to deliver on their campaign promises of gender segregation and ending public transportation on the Sabbath. The secular majority in the Knesset could make regulations for civil marriage, and possibly undo the ultra-Orthodox monopoly on religion in the country.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was charged with bribery, fraud and breach in late November, wouldn't be able to secure immunity and might even have to resign. Policies regarding Palestinians could be decided by those outside the settler enterprise.

Even though the center-left bloc has much to gain, while the right has more to lose, the heads of the right-wing parties are doing all they can to form a unity government. In speeches, interviews and press releases they describe it as the need of the hour, the people's will, the reasonable and right thing to do. Netanyahu even agreed to be a member of such a government under the leadership of the head of the Blue and White party, Benny Gantz, merely five months after its establishment. [...]

As far as Israel's right is concerned, the "demon" -- the urgent concern they will present to their voters -- is this: the now very real possibility that the country will be led by a Jewish-Arab partnership. Such cooperation can begin with limited support from the Joint List, the majority-Palestinian party, and continue with an agreement on base lines, then manifest in achievements on the ground, and so on. This is the very development that would collapse the right's empowerment in Israel.

Such a partnership signals a new political agenda: it undoes the segregation and animosity between Jews and Palestinians. It brings light after many years of political darkness that resulted in poor Jews, occupied Palestinians and fearful ultra-Orthodox, mediated by those seeking conflict and oppression. Jewish-Arab partnership is the highlight of the September elections, and it's what's preoccupying right-wing leaders now.

The daily war against such partnership is in full swing. It's taking place on billboards with Arabic letters removed, in hospital departments, in student groups, in colleges and universities, in acceptance committees and cultural events, and in the enactment of the Jewish Nation-State Law.

For right-wing parties, there is a direct link between the cycles of violence in Gaza, the settler enterprise, and quashing any hope for peace; and between supporting  authoritarian leaders around the world and the racial segregation against Palestinians here. A Jews-only politics is one in which the right always wins. Striving for a unity government -- even at the expense of stopping annexation and laws on religion and "loyalty" -- is worth it for the right, even if just to slide the possibility of Jewish-Arab partnership off the table.

Posted by at December 8, 2019 9:33 AM

  

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