Oudeh Basharat
Haaretz (Opinion)
January 14, 2013 - 1:00am


Of the myriad schemes that have been attributed to the Arabs in Israel, such as tax evasion, the appropriation of state lands and their demographic war, only one has failed: using the election to quietly take over the state of the Jews. Had the Arabs been possessed of the conspiratorial mind of a Moshe Feiglin, they would have reached a voter turnout of 97 percent, and there would be long lines of voters waiting at the cemetery polling places. But as it turns out, as a fifth column they are an utter failure.

Until our brothers in the territories join in, when they are finally annexed to us, we must conclude regrettably that the Arab population is not behaving like a subversive sect and that all signs indicate that they are like every other human being: sometimes depressed, sometimes in love and sometimes refusing to exercise their right to vote.

For this reason I would like to whisper to that human being that if, whether out of despair or political principle, he does not vote, then he should not expect Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman to declare a national day of mourning on their account.

My election-boycotting friends, the situation could be worse. And we should replace the question of what contribution was made by the Arab members of Knesset with a more appropriate one: What would the situation be without them? If the preceding generations had not exploited every crack in the wall of discrimination, even the very roofs above our heads would have been denied us. Building even a single room would have been an existential struggle. It was only through stubborn fighting that the Arabs have racked up impressive accomplishments.

Writing in the Nazareth-based Arabic newspaper Kul al-Arab, Ron Gerlitz and Batya Kallus note that the representation of Arabs in the public service rose from 5 percent in 2003 to 7.8 percent in 2011. That is one of the examples they bring to justify the title of their article, "Against despair." In it they argue that much can be achieved through the battle for consciousness and use of legal, civil, social and parliamentary means. There is no magic pill, only many pills administered with stubbornness and accompanied by great endurance.

On one hand, voting does not take place in laboratory conditions. It is impossible to consider the qualities of each party's candidates until the correct dosage is obtained. The choice is limited, and there's no option for putting together your own ticket, Chinese-restaurant-menu style: liberal, leftist, headed by a women with a serving of anti-Assad cake to top it off. If you want your vote to count, you would do well to lower your expectations and concentrate on what's important.

There are a few parties whose platform is based on peace and equality, but I will be voting for Hadash. First, because of the manner of the Jewish-Arab struggle, under the offensive name "Jewish-Arab brotherhood." The world is not a jungle, and patriotism means "my nation is not the best of all nations, but neither is there a better one." Second, because of the responsible, non-adventurist struggle, which preserves the souls and the liberty of the young people who join it. Third, because of the optimistic hues in which Hadash has painted the Arab population's challenge. In this regard, an Egyptian journalist has said he has never seen a fanatic leader with a sense of humor. The same can be said about the messianic and ultra-nationalist right wing. Those who use scare tactics have no interest in either optimism or humor. If the sane people in Israeli Jewish society are pinning their hopes on the Arab vote, this engenders optimism that together Jews and Arabs can change reality. What's good for the Arabs is necessarily good for the Jews, and vice versa.

After all, we don't want to live in a jungle.


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