Israel’s opposition is for Jews only

Heads of Israeli opposition parties L to R – Yair Lapid, Benny Gantz, Merav Michaeli and Avigdor Lieberman on 13 March 2023

The Haaretz lead editorial on 14 March 2023:

The heads of the Jewish parties in the opposition never miss an opportunity to repeat their mistake of adhering to a separatist policy that may well keep them in the opposition forever.

This week, they proudly announced that if the laws of the judicial coup are brought to the Knesset for their final vote, they’ll boycott the vote. This is definitely an important and worthy declaration. But in the joint statement issued by Yesh Atid chair Yair Lapid, National Unity Party chair Benny Gantz, Yisrael Beiteinu chair Avigdor Lieberman and Labor Party chair Merav Michaeli, two people were notable by their absence – the leaders of the two Arab parties in the opposition, Hadash-Ta’al and the United Arab List (UAL).

The four Jewish opposition heads demonstrated unity, declaring they would do everything in their power to stop what they called an “insane collection of laws.” They stressed that “national unity begins with genuine dialogue, and as long as the legislation isn’t halted, it’s merely an illusion.”

Yet what’s this unity worth if it exists only among Jews? And what form does the battle against this “insane” legislation take if it excludes from its ranks the elected representatives of Israel’s Arab citizens – the minority against which the coup is directed, the first minority that’ll be harmed by it and, to a large extent, its main victim?

Lapid, the head of the opposition, disappointingly chose to incite against the Arabs, as is his wont, rather than extending a hand to them to build a new civic alliance that would be broad enough for Jews and Arabs to march side by side.

When asked why the leaders of the Arab opposition parties were absent from the Jewish opposition leaders’ meeting, he replied that UAL chair Mansour Abbas was invited but didn’t come, while Hadash-Ta’al chair Ayman Odeh “works with Likud,” the party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

This response is nothing but demagoguery of the kind used by Netanyahu. Unlike Lapid, Lieberman and Gantz, Odeh has never worked with Netanyahu and certainly doesn’t “work with Likud.” It’s also reasonable to assume he has no intention of working with Netanyahu in the future, whether near or distant.

Someone who presumes to lead the opposition, to oppose a right that’s led by Netanyahu, Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir and to fight in the name of liberal democracy isn’t supposed to say such things.

In fact, he has a duty to forge an alliance with the Arab minority; to devote all his political energy to laying the foundations for a sincere, steadfast partnership between Jews and Arabs; to demolish the walls of fear and hatred and to overcome the obstacles to such a partnership. For only together is there any justification for, or possibility of, replacing the government.

An opposition for Jews only has no right to exist in a pro-democracy bloc. The opposition to this “fully right-wing” government must be fully democratic. And it cannot be that without Israel’s Arab citizens.

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