Zazim pressures Blue&White to give up on our JEWISH State
Zazim is a leftwing Israeli NGO. Some would call it a radical leftwing organization. I am less concerned with labels and more concerned with behaviours. Since I began following them, Zazim has been working hard to promote what they call Arab-Jewish partnership. I am all for Arab-Jewish partnership and for improving the conditions under which our Arab fellow citizens live in their villages and neighbourhoods. However, I am also in favour of maintaining the Jewish part of the ‘Jewish Democratic State of Israel’. They seem not to care at all about that. Sometimes they seem to engage in campaigns that show little understanding of the complexities of Arab life in this region (if I want to give them credit for naivity rather than accuse them of something more sinister).
This article focuses on their new email campaign sent out yesterday and as I was in the process of writing it, I became aware of the fact that they updated their website and their FB page yesterday as well, with the fait accompli of their campaign. So first look at what they did and then read the contents of their email campaign.
This sign says: Choosing Democracy: Jewish-Arab Partnership.
Their email campaign from yesterday is headed by the subject line, “What will Gantz see tomorrow morning?” I present part of their email and my translation and comments. Emphasis is in the original.
מאז פרסום תוצאות הבחירות, ההסתה נגד האזרחים הערבים שוברת שיאים בניסיון גזעני למחוק 20% מהאזרחים.
Since publication of the election results [March 2020], incitement against Arab citizens has broken records in the racist attempt to erase 20% of our population.
I hate it when people conflate issues concerning the Joint List with Arab citizens of Israel. It is true that this time, about 90% of the Arab citizens of Israel went to the polling stations and put in a ballot in support of the Joint List, and I would like to know what was going on in their minds at the time. But I also know that many of our Arab fellow citizens wish there was a viable alternative to the Joint List as the party seems to care more for residents of the Palestinian Authority than for Israeli Arab citizens. Perhaps they made promises to take care of the needs of the electorate that gave them 15 seats this time. I wish I could believe that.
In any case, none of the other parties, right, left of center (with the exception, perhaps, of Otzma Yehudit), seek to erase the 20% non-Jewish citizenry. And the ‘gevalt’ at the possibility of Gantz reaching a deal with the Joint List only reflects upon attitudes toward the Joint List platform and the party’s support of terrorism against Jews and nothing else.
עכשיו יש לנו סיכוי אמיתי לאלטרנטיבה שתיתן את התשובה הדמוקרטית להסתה ולגזענות: שותפות יהודית-ערבית.
Now we have a real chance for an alternative that will give us the democratic response to racist incitement: Jewish-Arab partnership.
There is no racist incitement against Arab citizens but opposition to inclusion of the Joint List into the government, whether as an overt or behind-the-scenes partner. For example, Ayman Odeh has clearly stated his opposition to a military response to terrorism against Israel from Gaza and Joint List MKs have never, as far as I can remember, come out against terror attacks in which Jews were killed or injured. In light of this, how would it play out if the Joint List was somehow involved in the government and we needed to engage in military action? Does Zazim have any thoughts on this?
בכחול לבן עדיין מהססים, וכדי שהם יקבלו את ההחלטה הנכונה, האמיצה והדמוקרטית, הם זקוקים לדחיפה קטנה מצידנו: בימים הקרובים נעלה שלטי חוצות עם הכיתוב ״בוחרים בדמוקרטיה: שותפות יהודית-ערבית״ סמוך לבתיהם של גנץ, לפיד ושאר ראשי כחול-לבן. העיצוב, ההדפסה והתליה של השלטים יעלו 14,500 ש״ח. את/ה איתנו?
The Blue&White Party is still hesitating, and in order for them to make the right decision, the brave and democratic decision, they need a small push from us: in the next few days we will put up billboards saying: “Choosing Democracy: Jewish-Arab Partnership” next to the homes of Gantz, Lapid and the other leaders of Blue&White. The graphic design, printing and posting of the billboards will cost about 14,500 NIS. Are you with us?
The Zazim email describes how they went to parlour sessions at which Blue&White spoke in order to challenge them with questions about their commitment to Arab-Jewish partnership. They say they were met with avoidance, silence or out and out denial of any possibility of such partnership. Of course, we do not know from their email how the questions were asked and the wording is most important, as we can see from the conflation of opposition to partnership with the Joint List and incitement against Arabs.
Here is how Zazim ends their email message:
בשנים האחרונות הקהילה שלנו פעלה יחד שוב ושוב כדי לבנות אלטרנטיבה של שוויון ושותפות: רק בשנה האחרונה פעלנו כדי לעצור את האיום הכהניסטי, פעלנו נגד התכנית של הליכוד להציב מצלמות בקלפיות בישובים ערבים, והתגייסנו למען הזכות הדמוקרטית של אזרחים בדואים בכפרים הלא מוכרים בנגב להצביע. עכשיו אנחנו צריכים לפעול בכל הכוח כדי לעשות את זה שוב – ויחד אנחנו יודעים שנוכל להצליח.
In recent years our community has come together again and again to build an alternative of equality and partnership: only last year we worked to stop the Kahanist threat [getting Ben Ari rejected as a candidate for the Knesset], we acted against the Likud plan to put cameras in the Arab polling stations, and we rallied together to support the democratic right of Bedouin citizens in unrecognized villages in the Negev to vote. Now we need to go full steam in order to do that again – and together we know we can succeed.
Yes, Zazim petitioned the Supreme Court to disqualify Ben Gvir and Ben Ari of the Otzma Yehudit party and re-instate Heba Yazbak and Ofir Kasif of the Joint List. So Arab supremacy and racism and Jewish shame are fine, but Jewish racism and supremacy or pride are not. Personally, I prefer neither. And yes, Zazim was against the plan to put cameras up at polling stations, not necessarily just Arab stations. The attorney general, in fact, was in favour of cameras but argued that there was insufficient time to do it properly only one week before the elections. And it was not only the Likud that was in favour; Liberman also was in favour as was Yamina (see here for the JPost article on this).
Are the staff and members of Zazim aware of the potential fall-out should they eventually succeed in their efforts? Were they to support Arab parties that endorse improving the lives of Arab citizens of Israel rather than seeming to work for Abu Mazen, I would consider joining their ranks. But that is not what they are doing.