Blue & White party chairman Benny Gantz nipped Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "anti-Arab" campaign trickery in the bud on Tuesday.
Over the past days, Netanyahu has been delivering the blunt message that Gantz cannot form a government with Arab MKs, which is true as it was in the April and September elections in 2019.
Yet, the idea of the "Arab partners" has seemed to successfully seep into Blue & White's leadership.
There never was any intention by the party to form a government with the Arab MKs, but in the face of Netanyahu's negative campaign, Gantz opted to say it in his own words: "The Joint List will not be part of my government."
Close confidants of the former IDF chief made the message clearer, saying that Joint List would not even be an outside supporter of a future Gantz coalition.
It is safe to assume that the High Court's decision to overturn the Central Elections Committee's ban on Joint List MK Heba Yazbak running in the upcoming March 2 vote assisted in his decision.
To Gantz's disappointment or perhaps to his fortune – there are jurors in Jerusalem.
This blunt and violent discourse that has been ravaging Israeli politics over the past months has not helped in any way in building a deep, serious and responsible debate on the sensitive and complicated relationship between Jews and Arabs.
It's far easier to stoke the flames of animosity than cool them.
Netanyahu and the right-wing parties have not held back from calling them the "Arab parties" in a purely negative and derogatory manner.
And what are these "Arab parties" if not the hundreds of thousands of Arab Israeli citizens who vote for them?
And when the term "Arabs" or "Arab parties" became overused, they reverted to the loaded term "the Joint List."
This racist and tainted discourse does not occur in an isolated space. Some of the Arab community's lawmakers over the past years, including prior lawmakers like Azmi Bishara and Haneen Zoabi and current MK Yazabak, have managed to rile up a vast section of the population with their own radical and explicit statements.
With former MK Bishara, it got to the point of action, with him fleeing Israel to Qatar amid allegations of treason and espionage.
They have also not bothered to appreciate that it takes two sides to have a serious and respectable conversation, nor refrain from cheap provocation.
The despair-inducing shallow political discourse in Israel is the refuge of politicians who have adopted a narrative based on slanderous slogans, idle accusations, lies and impetus.
Residents of the northern village of Jish, where on Tuesday unknown assailants graffitied racist slurs on buildings and slashed vehicles' tires, spoke with a heavy heart about the paltry political discourse rather than their vandalized cars.
"Enough with this talk about the 'Arabs' or Joint List, Netanyahu can't keep doing this," they said. "This must stop. We're all Israelis. We all served in the army. We are citizens like everybody else."
Netanyahu conducted a campaign against the Israeli Arab community who "flocked to the polls in buses" and the Arab parties.
Gantz announced that Joint List is no partner in a future government.
Instated of coming closer – with grow more distant from each other and all of us are to blame.