The chances of a right wing government are in danger. The Arab voters are streaming to the polling booths in masses……. Go out and vote, help us close the gap and with your help, we will have a right wing government that will guard the State of Israel.
(Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, in a video on Facebook, 17th March 2015)
People find it genuinely frightening. I said to someone last week, if you thought the worst outcome of the election was Miliband in Downing Street, you’re wrong. There’s an even worse outcome, which is Miliband held hostage by the SNP.
(Prime Minister David Cameron, reported in the Telegraph, 26th January 2015)
When Bibi Netanyahu called for voters to support his party in the face of an increase in Arab voter turnout, he was widely condemned for his remarks. President Obama said that Netanyahu`s remarks might “erode Israeli democracy”, the New York Times described it as a “racist rant” and Joe Klein at Time Magazine said Netanyahu had acted “like a bigot.”
Yet, in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron has been encouraging voters to respond to the rise of the Scottish National Party, the dominant party in Scotland. He has warned of the “appalling prospect” of the Scottish National Party joining Labour in power – a prospect MR Cameron claims is “genuinely frightening.” His statements have definitely not been met with international condemnation.
How are Bibi Netanyahu`s comments about the threat of an Arab party different than David Cameron concerns about a Scottish party? Why is Netanyahu`s call for right wing voters to counteract the rise of a small, nationalist left wing party different than Cameron`s call for right wing voters to counteract the rise of a small, left wing nationalist party?
It is at this point that many will suggest a subtle, even a simple, answer. David Cameron focuses on the policies of the SNP – for example they want to take apart the United Kingdom (or as Boris Johnson said, the SNP are looking to be voted in to a British Parliament that they wish to destroy.) Cameron is not against the Scots as people, but is against the policies of this specific Scottish party. Netanyahu`s comments were taken by most to be against the Arab people, not the Arab party.
Yet such an answer is only possible if one is totally ignorant of the realities of what the Arab Party, the Joint List, stands for and says. Masud Ganaim, the Number 2 in the Joint List Party, called for the creation of an Islamic Caliphate that should include Israel. Ahmed Tibi, the Number 4 in the party, whilst serving as a Member of the Israeli Knesset, called for European sanctions against Israel. Haneen Zoabi, the Number 7 in the party, said that Hamas, a group sworn to the destruction of the state in whose legislature she sits, are not a terrorist group. In a pre-election debate, a spokesperson for the party said that ISIS learnt their savagery and brutality from the Israeli actions in 1948.
So when Bibi Netanyahu is worried about the rising Arab voter turnout, is that a racist statement against the Arab people? Or, just like David Cameron, is he worried about the entry into parliament of a party who do not want that parliament to exist? Is he, just like David Cameron, concerned about the leadership of his country being given into the hands of a party who want to dismantle that country? In short, this blind criticism of Netanyahu would be like criticising Cameron`s attitude towards the SNP without knowing any of the policies and ideas that the party stands for.
This criticism of Netanyahu, as with so many other criticisms of Israel, is only possible in the vacuum of a total ignorance of Arab and Palestinian attitudes and actions towards Israel. Israel is accused of blocking the existence of a Palestinian State – when the Palestinian have rejected Israeli offers for the creation of a Palestinian State in 2001 and 2008 (as well as rejecting the Partition Plan of 1947). Israel is accused of not engaging with a moderate, like Mahmoud Abbas – ignoring Abbas` involvement in terrorist attacks, whose PhD is about “The relationship between Nazism and Zionism,” and whose party, Fatah, consistently glorify suicide bombers. Israel is accused of being an apartheid state – a claim that must be dealt with, but simply ludicrous coming from those who support the setting up of a Palestinian State, which according to the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN, will not allow any Jews to live in its jurisdiction.
Both Mr Netanyahu and Mr Cameron are not racists – they are both genuinely concerned about how their country will function if it is led by people who are against its very existence. Critics of Israel and Netanyahu should maybe learn a bit more about the Arab and Palestinian leaders they are supporting – before defaming Israel`s leaders for crimes they did not commit.