Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision to quit Labor has Arab party members fuming. "This is the greatest shock to the Israeli Left in the State of Israel's modern history," said Ar'ara resident Malcham Malcham, who served as an advisor on Arab Affairs to former Minister Ophir Pines-Paz.
"This move has direct implications on the Arab sector. It endangers democracy and bolsters the Israeli Right," he said.
According to Malcham, Barak "stole a mandate that does not belong to him in order to strengthen the extreme right in Israel." However, Mancham noted that he still believes in Labor's values and expressed optimism regarding its future. "Barak's departure will encourage many people to vote for Labor again, when it will choose to return to its core values.
Barak announces he is leaving Labor (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"In the last primaries (Barak) told me that as far as he is concerned peace and equality are the highest values. I asked him if he has changed, and he said that at his age people do not change. Unfortunately he has not learned and has not changed," Mancham said, adding that as of now, the Arab sector "does not support Labor."
Naif A'arda, another Labor member, said he was considering supporting a different party "because we don’t know what is in store for us."
Khaled Agarbiya, a Labor member from Umm al-Fahm, said Barak's move "is a blow to all of us, and I'm kind of disappointed." However, he added, "We must continue fighting until the situation improves."
Riad Kabha of Barta'a said those who remained in the party will "unite and make every effort to maintain the trust of those who voted for Labor.
"It is unfortunate that us Arabs have no influence and can only sit and wait to see how things develop," he said. "We are currently in a state of panic."
Kabha called for the establishment of a "broad leftist front that will serve as a fighting opposition together with the Arab parties and Meretz."
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