Israeli Arabs at protest in Jaffa R 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)
Move over Balad, Hadash and the United Arab List-Ta’al.
In the next
general election, there will be a new Arab party. But what is tentatively
labeled the Israeli-Arab Nationalist Party will be very different from the
current Arab factions in the Knesset.
While those factions’ MKs have been
criticized for being too extreme and vocal in their criticism of the Jewish
state, the new party will be unabashedly pro-Israel and take a very different
“Most Arab citizens are in favor of coexisting, cooperating and
living in harmony with Jewish Israelis,” the party’s founder, Sarhan Bader, told
The Jerusalem Post
. “The other Arab parties place too much emphasis on the
Palestinians and external Arabs. But it’s more important to serve the Arabs
inside Israel who want to live here in peace with our Jewish cousins. After we
solve the problems of internal Arabs, we can help the
Bader said he would fight for the rights of Israeli Arabs
and fair expression for his sector, which he said totaled 22 percent of the
population. He said his party would represent its constituency better than the
current Arab parties, in part because he intends to join the coalition, which no
Arab party has ever done.
“To serve the Arabs properly, it’s important to
work together with the ruling party in the coalition,” he said. “The Druse MKs
who are part of the coalition [in Likud, Yisrael Beytenu and the Independence
Party] help their constituency a hundred times more than every Arab MK in the
opposition. I will dramatically improve things for the Arab
Bader, 36, has been involved in local politics for many years in
Nahaf, his Upper Galilee village.
Out of a belief that large ruling
parties can be more effective, he was a member of the Likud before deciding that the formation of a pro-Israel Arab party was more urgent.
backing Likud caused him problems, he admitted that he had encountered hostility
but said he always resolutely defended his politics.
reached the Prime Minister’s Office, which encouraged him to form the party that
may end up acting as an Arab satellite party of Likud.
“Only a strong
party like Likud can bring peace,” he said. “It’s true historically.
Left won’t bring peace. Labor never did anything for the Arab sector.
It’s time to give a chance to the Right.”
Bader described the party as
six months away from being ready.
Mocking the current Arab lawmakers
again, he blasted their visits to Libya and Lebanon.
“They went to
Gaddafi and called him a king to get money from him for a soccer stadium and a
few months later they called him a murderer,” he said.
In a recent
interview with journalist Shalom Yerushalmi, Bader predicted that his party
would win three seats in the next election. Yerushalmi asked how the party would
mark “Nakba Day,” the anniversary of Israel’s founding that Palestinians and
some Israeli Arabs observe with anti-Israel rallies.
“We won’t officially
mark the day,” he said. “But I am not responsible for what each person feels in