MK Taleb a-Sana rejects the argument that Arab discrimination is minimal and
that Arab politicians are radicalizing the Israeli Arab public.
Majadle calls for Arabs to come out and vote and prevent a “bad right wing
government of Feiglins, Danons, Libermans and Elkins.”
enters the discussion and says that Israeli Arab leaders are “obsessed with
harming Israel – to the point that they neglect their own community’s
Sana, 52, is currently the longest-serving Arab member of the
Knesset, having first entered the legislature in 1992, and has decided to run
this time with the Arab Democratic Party alone, and not together with the United
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, he rejected the
arguments made by Prof. Efraim Karsh in a Post article earlier this week
that there is minimal discrimination against Israeli Arabs and that their
economic situation is good and improving, but it is their leaders that
radicalize the community.
Sana said it is not true that he or other
Israeli Arab politicians such as MKs Ahmed Tibi and Haneen Zoabi have not dealt
with local Arab issues, but only focused on the Palestinian- Israeli conflict.
He says that they are dealing with improving the lives of Palestinians, but
blames the media for focusing only on the attention-grabbing headlines or on
statements from Arab MKs on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
that he has been trying to deal with the issue of the government “making war in
the Negev” against the Arabs living there, and “the Israeli media doesn’t pay
any attention to it.”
Likewise, they “don’t pay attention to the details
of the Israeli-Arab election campaign and only focus on Arab crime, security
issues or other negative news. There are 1.5 million Arabs in the country and
the media does not pay adequate attention to our issues.”
He goes on to
say that “there is no Left in Israel, only a Right, and an extreme Right. The
Right succeeds in controlling the media, universities and other
Regarding the Naftali Bennett phenomenon and Bayit
Yehudi’s rise in the polls, Sana says that it is all about the media, which is
“What did he do in his life? Who is this guy?” The solution
for now is to increase the Arab voter turnout so that they can acquire more
influence on politics in the country.
Majadele, 59, the Arab MK from the
Labor Party, was the first Muslim to be appointed minister, in 2007.
went directly to his message about what Israeli Arabs need to do these
elections, “Arabs need to come out and vote on January 22 and prevent a
right-wing extremist government from being formed. A bad right-wing government
of Feiglins, Danons, Libermans and Elkins.”
It is the Right that “does
not care about the poor, social justice and equality,” he added.
al-Ali, the spokesman for the Balad party, headed by MK Jamal Zahalka and which
also has Zoabi as a member, agrees with Sana that the Arab MKs are working to
improve the lives of Israeli Arabs, and that the media does not focus on this.
He also rejects the argument, made by Karsh and others on the Right, that the
Arabs are not suffering from significant discrimination.
I told him that
they argue that Israeli Arabs tend to live in less-crowded areas and tend to own
their homes, which are usually large houses, whereas Jews tend to live in small,
rented apartments in crowded areas in the center of the country.
now have a high standard of living and many are studying in the universities,
working in many fields, and have low unemployment rates.
“This is not true. Having a job, food and a house are basic necessities and if
you compare Arab villages to Jewish areas in Tel Aviv or Herzliya you see large
gaps – big differences.”
Furthermore, “The poverty rate in Arab areas is
over 50 percent.”
Ali says that “all Arab MKs care about achieving equality and improving day to
day life for Arab citizens.”
He goes on, “It is the Israeli media that
focus on other things” and not on the ways that Arab lawmakers are making
improvements in the Arab sector.
Regarding the contention that
Israeli-Arab politicians such as Zoabi and Tibi are radicalizing their
community, Ali says that this is not true and that “Zoabi represents many Arabs,
who support her Balad party. The party fights against racism and to end the
“You can’t have equality in a Jewish, democratic
It is the “‘Jewish’ that makes it” inherently unequal, because it
is “always going to favor Jews over others,” he says. Only a solely “democratic
state would be equal for everyone, but Jewish plus democratic can’t
Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, wrote me in
regards to this issue, which he called a “paradox” in an article published in
The Washington Times and posted on his website, danielpipes.org, “Israel’s
Arabs, Living a Paradox.”
“Unfortunately, Israeli Arabs vote consistently
for representatives obsessed with harming Israel – to the point that they
neglect their own community’s interests,” Pipes wrote to me for this article.
“Worse, as Efraim Karsh has pointed out, the trend toward rejectionism increases
as Israeli Arabs become more prosperous, affluent, and better educated. I
believe this to be Israel’s ultimate challenge; after Iran and Gaza have been
dealt with, how does it turn its Muslim minority into loyal citizens?” •