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‘We can and must push back against the tide of fascism,’ says Arab-Israeli MK Tibi

13 15 7
08.04.2019

Ahmad Tibi is, in many ways, the face of Palestinian politics within Israel. Boasting 20 years’ service as a Knesset Member (MK), he sees no reason why he shouldn’t one day become Israel’s Prime Minister. Yet with only days to go until the General Election, Tibi must battle anti-Palestinian rhetoric, an increasingly-emboldened right-wing and disillusionment among the Arab-Israeli community to secure his re-election to parliament. True to form, he has some strong words to say on the matter.

Tibi holds the number two slot in an alliance of Israel’s biggest predominantly Arab parties, Hadash (Al-Jabha) and Ta’al (the Arab Movement for Renewal). Comprised of some of the best-known names in Arab-Israeli politics, including Hadash head Ayman Odeh and long-time MKs Aida Touma-Sliman and Yousef Jabareen, Hadash-Ta’al is a force to be reckoned with.

“The Hadash-Ta’al coalition is a strong one,” Tibi tells MEMO. “We hope to gain a number of seats so that we can continue the struggle of pushing back against Israel’s racist laws and fascism, as well as push for Palestinian freedom.”

And struggle they must. Since Israel last held elections in 2015, its government — led by incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party – has passed a host of laws which discriminate, directly or indirectly, against the country’s 1.8 million Palestinian citizens who make up 20 per cent of the population. Chief among these is the Nation-State Law, which last July declared Israel to be “the national home of the Jewish people”. The document failed to mention Palestinian citizens of Israel and, by depriving them of their right to national self-determination and downgrading the status of the Arabic language in Israel, has effectively declared them to be second-class citizens.

The law was a severe blow to Arab-Israelis; it has cemented their disillusion with the government and politics in general, and this has shown in the run up to the election. Hadash-Ta’al has centred its campaign on the slogan “droves”, a play on Netanyahu’s controversial 2015 warning that the electorate must vote for Likud to counter Palestinian citizens of Israel, who were “flocking to the polls”. At the time, Netanyahu’s scaremongering drew fierce condemnation yet, in an attempt to re-claim the phrase, Tibi and Odeh have appeared on posters in front of large party-coloured buses, promising high voter turnout on 9 April.

READ: Younger Israelis........

© Middle East Monitor