Home inContext As Some Arab Israelis Look to the Past, Others Think About the...

As Some Arab Israelis Look to the Past, Others Think About the Future

Samara Greenberg

The next general election in Israel will see a new Arab party on the ballot, and one that is very different from the Knesset’s current Arab factions. Tentatively labeled the Israeli-Arab Nationalist Party, the political party will be pro-Israel and focus on serving “the Arabs inside Israel who want to live here in peace with our Jewish cousins,” according to founder Sarhan Bader.

A former member of Likud, Bader feels forming a pro-Israel Arab party is urgent. “Most Arab citizens are in favor of coexisting, cooperating and living in harmony with Jewish Israelis,” Bader told The Jerusalem Post. “The other Arab parties place too much emphasis on the Palestinians and external Arabs…After we solve the problems of internal Arabs, we can help the Palestinians.”

Rallying in support of the Palestinian “Nakba” on Israeli Independence Day. (Photo: AFP)

Exhibit A: A number of Arab Israeli Members of Knesset on Thursday took part in demonstrations commemorating “Nakba Day”, or “Day of Catastrophe”, to mark the so-called catastrophe that took place when Israel was created. “[Israel’s] Independence Day is a day of mourning for the Palestinian people,” said Arab MK Jamal Zahalka, who also promised to “never forgive or forget as long as this historic injustice done to the Palestinian people is not rectified.” Similarly, MK Talab El-Sana exclaimed, “I will never forget my historic right, nor will I forgive (Israel) for the crimes committed during the Palestinian Nakba.”

Well there’s a positive attitude that is sure to make a difference for the Palestinian people.

If successful, the Israeli-Arab Nationalist Party can be a wonderful development for both the Arabs and Jews in Israel. For Arabs, this new party can give a positive message and allow Palestinians to work with Jewish Israelis to better both peoples’ future, and perhaps even understanding of each other. For Jews, the party will show the world that not all Arabs consider Israel’s existence a catastrophe, and that unlike in neighboring countries, Arabs in Israel can form political parties and vote as they desire.

In focusing on working with the Jewish parties instead of in opposition to them, this new Arab party may be the breath of fresh air so desperately needed in the Middle East.