For the past 13 years, Dov Khenin served as the sole Jewish Knesset member for The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash Party) and the sole Jewish MK for the Joint List during the last Knesset session. Khenin announced this week that he will not seek reelection and several candidates are expected to vie for the number three spot on the Hadash list, which is reserved for a Jewish member.
A senior member of the party told Ynet that the leading candidates include Dr. Ofer Ksif, Dr. Yaela Ra’anan, Dr. Efraim Davidi and attorney Noa Levi. “All are activists in Hadash and the Communist Party. Ksif is a senior member of the party’s political board. Davidi, a history lecturer, is the deputy director of Hadash. Ra’anan is a social activist and Levi works as an attorney at the Public Committee Against Torture.”
Dr. Yaela Ra’anan is a resident of Kibbutz Kisufim in the Gaza vicinity and lectures at the nearby Sapir College. She confirmed her candidacy to Ynet, saying: “I want to do everything possible so that the state will be a more fair and just place, both with regards to ending the occupation as well as economically —to transform the capitalist economic system. I know that currently these goals seem unreal… I will try to create partnerships, even with people on the right.”
Regarding the makeup of the party, Ra’anan said: “Hadash was always a Jewish-Arab party and as a citizen of Israel it bothers me that there is a divide between Jews and Arabs. We are all citizens and the divide is detrimental, especially to minorities. I see fit to be in a position of partnership and I am proud to be part of this partnership against the direction the state is trying to take us by force of seperation and discrimination, such as the Nation State Law.”
Dr. Ofer Ksif said that he is considering a run: “Hadash Knesset members have always been prime advocates for equality, against the occupation, racism and violence and pro gay rights. I would be glad to step into these giant shoes… Before Khenin we had excellent parliamentarians such as Meir Vilner, whom I served as an assistant. I will be honored if I am chosen in the party’s primaries.”
Ksif was the subject of controversy when four years ago, as a lecturer at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he called Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked a neo-Nazi following the passing of a law targeting left-wing NGOs. He also called her "filth" and a "partner to crimes against humanity." Last year, he called Jews who ascend the Temple Mount “a cancer which must be eliminated.”
Meanwhile, the Joint List has not yet decided whether its constituent parties will run together again, and if so, who will lead. The Arab Movement for Renewal (Ta’al) Party, headed by Ahmad Tibi, called for a survey to be conducted to examine who will lead and how to divide the mandates. The Islamic United Arab List Party is demanding that it take the lead. Nonetheless, Hadash is still expected to be placed at number one but it is not yet clear whether MK Ayman Odeh will lead the list.
In his farewell speech, Khenin, who himself placed Tamar Gozansky as the Jewish delegate of the party, said: “In these difficult times, when the government deepens the gulf separating Jews and Arabs, I stand with my friends on the bridge connecting the two peoples, and I am convinced that this bridge is vital for the future of this country. I look back with satisfaction, but I cannot evade a difficult truth: I think Israel is going in a dangerous direction, and in the absence of any progress towards peace we will end up with another war. The occupation poisons the lives of both peoples, democracy is under attack. Our ship is speeding in the wrong direction.
“I am not abandoning the struggle. I have decided to not present my candidacy for the next Knesset, but politics isn’t limited to the confines of the Knesset. I will continue my work in uniting struggles, unleashing imaginations, to show that we can do things better here. I am aware of the feeling of hopelessness on the left; it isn’t justified, we can change… I call on the people who oppose Netanyahu to go out and vote.”