Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Israel’s PM has no plans to include Arabs determined to undermine or destroy the state into the government. It’s common sense.

The argument between the prime minister and a reality-show host over whether Israel is “a state of all its citizens” or a Jewish state is not a test of tolerance.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
11 March '19..

He’s done it again. After being called out for allegedly employing racist incitement against Israeli Arabs during election campaigns, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being attacked again for saying things that hurt the feelings of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens and offend the sensibilities of some Jews. This has led to renewed charges that he is guilty of denigrating Arabs and trashing the democratic nature of the state. But as with past claims, there’s less to this allegation than the anguished criticism directed at Netanyahu would lead one to believe.

This latest kerfuffle stems from Netanyahu’s Likud Party’s attack on its Blue and White Party rivals. Likud is asserting that the only way that Blue and White Party leader and former Israel Defense Forces’ Chief of Staff Benny Gantz will be able to form a government, even if he finishes first, will be to reach out to Arab political parties. The shorthand for this argument is “Bibi or Tibi,” meaning that the real choice voters face is not between Netanyahu and Gantz, but between a government led by the incumbent or one that will include Ahmed Tibi, the leader of the Ta’al Party, which is running on a joint list this year with Hadash, the Israeli Communist Party.

This attack is part of the Likud’s effort to portray Blue and White as leftists in centrist clothing, but the charge is pretty far-fetched. All four of the Arab parties, which ran on one Joint List in previous elections but have split into two for the April vote, have made it clear that—as has been their stated policy in the past—they won’t join any government formed by a Zionist political party. And Blue and White and every other party, other than the hard-left Meretz, have stated in turn that they won’t invite Arab anti-Zionists or Communists into any coalition to govern Israel. Blue and White doesn’t currently have a path to a majority coalition without doing the unthinkable unless current members of the Likud-led coalition defect to them.

This will be sorted out after the voters render their verdict on April 9. But the current controversy stems from the fact that some people have taken offense at Likud’s mention of the facts of Israeli political life.

(Continue to Full Column)

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