Arabs are not wanted in center-left political parties

Opinion: Jewish politicians cannot recognize that the younger generation of Israeli Arabs is eager to integrate into society, and believe - despite evidence to the contrary - that there are a host of right-wingers ready to switch sides whom they must appease

Afif Abu Much|
The gods have smiled down on Blue & White leader Benny Gantz once again.
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  • They smiled on him throughout his military service and career, smiled as he entered politics and were once again smiling as the Labor Party and Meretz joined forces this week, for Blue & Whites was praying for no more than two political parties competing to its left so that no votes would be lost to parties who did not pass the Knesset threshold on March 2.
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    ניצן הורוביץ מרצ עמיר פרץ העבודה בחירות 2020
    ניצן הורוביץ מרצ עמיר פרץ העבודה בחירות 2020
    Amir Peretz of Labor and Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz join forces
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    But it is clear as day that the new alliance is flawed. The only Arab candidate among its members is Issawi Frej of Meretz, who has been pushed down in the new union's list of candidates to an unrealistic 11th place.
    The premise of a Jewish-Arab partnership long touted by Meretz is no more.
    There is no effort to include an Arab among the leadership despite the fact that Frej is probably single-handedly responsible for Meretz crossing the Knesset threshold in the April elections.
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    עיסאווי פריג'
    עיסאווי פריג'
    Issawi Frej
    (Photo: Shahar Goldstein)
    This is the thanks Meretz affords the Arab voters or even Frej himself. Why is it that the Arab MK is handed the short end of the stick, once again?
    But let's face facts. The Jewish center-left is not really welcoming to the Arab citizens of the country.
    Jewish political parties prefer to steer clear of the Arab community, and if they do have an Arab candidate, they make sure he cannot realistically be elected – hoping to lure Arab voters without having to actually represent the Arab electorate.
    The center-left parties seem to enjoy slamming doors in the face of the Arab citizens who are hopeful of integrating into the mainstream political arena.
    These parties want Arabs in their campaign but do not want them to take any part in governing.
    In politics and in other walks of life Arabs are not encouraged to participate and do not enjoy the equality ostensibly afforded to them by law.
    The average Jewish politician has yet to understand that the young generation of Arabs hope to integrate fully into Israeli society.
    The Blue & White party under the leadership of Benny Gantz has refused to include an Arab anywhere in their list of candidates, relying on bad advice from people who warn that the inclusion of an Arab candidate would risk the potential right-wing voters moving over to the center-left camp.
    Ironically, these votes were nowhere to be found in the last two elections.
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    בני גנץ
    בני גנץ
    Blue & White leader Benny Gantz
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    I would be curious to see the Israeli reaction to news that the American Democratic or Republican parties decide it would not be in their electoral interest to include a Jewish candidate.
    What would Israelis call such an eventuality? Oh yes, anti-Semitism.
    Afif Abu Much is an entrepreneur and contributor to the Al-Monitor website
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