Israel is, besides traditionally Jewish, a definite full democracy. All citizens have full rights and almost all obligations (Gentiles are not obligated to serve in the army but may volunteer). Yet, the only political parties with a sizeable Muslim representation were the united ‘Arab’ parties (the third-largest party in the Knesset) and some ultra-left-wing splinters. These are ‘I warn you’ and ‘I told you so’ eternal bystanders who would never take responsibility for the well being of their constituents. Backseat executives with no real power but the power of speech. This is all going to change.
NB: I don’t use ‘Arab’ as an opposite of ‘Israeli’ because both terms are wrong. The two Peoples are Muslim and Jewish. The latter has many Jews from Palestinian or Arab extraction, so it’s incorrect to reserve those terms for Gentiles in Israel. Reversely, Muslims are fully citizens, so it’s incorrect to only call Jews Israeli. Yet, when we speak of Muslims and Jews in Israel, don’t assume this is a religious divide. More and more of both nationalities are less and less religious. But culturally, they are Muslim or Jewish. Note that Mizrachic Jews culturally are Arab too. So, 80% of Israel is Arab.
This lack of integration of Muslim Israelis is not across the board. In the health field, Muslim and Jewish assistants, nurses, therapists, and medical doctors work side-by-side. Among university students, civil servants, and service personnel, yarmulkas and hijabs are both no rarity all over Israel.
Both groups are in vast majority perfectly happy to live separately in their own neighborhood or village, not to intermarry, and to send their children not to a mixed school. But, while animosity from both sides is historically understandable, most will do their best not to let that show or play out to a person in front of them but rather, to be friendly and helpful regardless.
Do not assume that every Israeli regards the above a fair description of the situation. We agree on hardly anything, including disagreeing to disagree.
Now, the leading Likud Party of PM Netanyahu is elevating its profile to entice Muslims to vote for it. This should be followed by some other right-wing parties and mainstream left-wing parties doing the same — though, don’t hold your breath. But finally, Muslim-Palestinian voters will have a choice beyond a protest vote for the opposition or a protesting refusal to vote: a vote for some active say for the specific interest of Muslim Israelis.
Of course, the Likud move is only a trick to get more votes. But still, it may be the beginning of many Muslim-Palestinian with plans and ambitions to move into Jewish-majority parties to dialogue, plead, and negotiate for their interests. It’ll help to make Israel a fully dual-nationality State.