We did not cry out in the face of rocket attacks on southern residents that went on for years. We did not cry out in the face of the suffering of our brethren, Gaza residents, who have been brutally repressed by Hamas. Yet we cried out, of all things, in the face of an onslaught against the most radical element in the Arab world.
The Arab-Israeli leadership won’t connect, heaven forbid, to the moderate Arab elements such as Egypt, Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, or Jordan. These are of no interest to it. We saw Azmi Bishara, who left, and we saw where he went to.
I don’t need to explain what Hamas is all about. The Egyptians and Palestinian Authority officials are doing it better than me. They ask Hamas how it can talk about victory when the war against Israel – which it sought and advanced – was managed on the backs and blood of thousands of Palestinians that were killed, wounded, or lost their property, while Hamas’ leadership stayed at fortified bunkers or in Damascus.
So now we can accurately measure the result of this conduct: 18. Why 18? Because this is the number of Knesset seats that the polls predict for Avigdor Lieberman’s party, Yisrael Beiteinu.
Apparently, we got what we deserve. If we, citizens of the State of Israel, which has a Jewish majority, connect to the worst enemies of the State, why are we surprised that this is what we get?
Lieberman and his party are not a marginal political element such as Meir Kahane’s party, Kach. We are dealing with immense political power that constitutes tangible danger to Israeli Arabs. He hates us and incites against us, and we can see that it’s going very well for him: The more he incites against us, the stronger he gets.
Moment of truth
That is, we managed to make the Jewish public hate us so much that many are willing to support a racist party. If a party was similarly inciting against Jews overseas, those same Lieberman supporters would probably cry out “anti-Semitism.”
Our leadership, which for years had been leading us in a way that portrays us as the enemies of the State of Israel, while failing to take care of any of the real needs of Israel’s Arab residents, is now asking for our votes again. Yet we interest our leadership just about as much as the Gaza population interests Hamas. For this leadership, we are merely a political means that allows it to make its damaging voice heard again and again.
I turn to Arab residents of Israel: This is a moment of truth for us. We are facing grave danger, and don’t say that you weren’t warned. Eighteen Knesset seats for Lieberman is no longer a political game. For us, it’s genuine trouble. We cannot stand by and watch on, as if this does not pertain to us. We must enlist and massively support the moderate parties that will weaken Lieberman.
We constitute 20% of the population in Israel and we have the ability to exert significant influence. We do not have the privilege to stay at home at this time and avoid the political game. If we fail to play it, others shall play it on our backs.
Therefore, do not abstain from voting, and do not vote for the radical Arab parties. Rather, vote in a way that reduces the great danger we are facing today – Lieberman and his colleagues. In other words: Support parties that are still willing to give us the opportunity to integrate as citizens with equal rights.
The writer is the principal of an elementary school at Kfar Kara