The Problematic Prime Minister vs. The Peoples’ President

We acknowledge the deterioration of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s political leadership which is mainly focused on his personal need for power and control. We should contrast his behavior and his rhetoric with the personality of a very prized  and highly respected peoples’ President, Reuven Rivlin.

In the most recent demonstration of Netanyahu’s racist remarks he revealed the hidden truth of his real anti-Arab feelings.  His present war-cry is “Bibi or Tibi”.

In the latter, he refers to a leading member of the Arab Joint List in the Knesset, an outstanding speaker and defender of the rights of our Arab Israeli population.

Dr. Ahmad Tibi is a renowned gynecologist and a professor of medicine as well as a long time member of the Knesset where he is a strong voice in his concern for Arab rights.

Netanyahu is very wrong. This is not a contest between Bibi and Tibi.  It is a struggle for democracy and human rights. The Arab population in our country is 20% and there certainly is no question that there has long been discrimination against them . No honest person can deny it.

Of course, they have equal rights to vote in national elections. Some of them hold exalted positions as judges in our courts, in the Supreme Court, as distinguished doctors in our hospitals, where their names are well-known to the Jewish population, most of whom treat them with respect.

Immediately following Bibi’s “declaration” that not ALL are citizens of the Jewish State, our beloved peoples’ President, Reuven Rivlin,  immediately responded publicly without mentioning the Prime Minister’s name and he, in righteous anger, replied to Bibi’s shameful statement.

He rightly acknowledged his strong objection to Bibi’s personal remarks against our minority citizens and made it crystal clear that all members of our population are equal citizens and that vitriolic remarks cannot remove Israeli citizenship from them.

Like the Jewish citizens, Arab and other minority citizens have the full right to criticize and to condemn where necessary acts of the government which they deem to be hostile and racist.

Dr. Tibi is a forceful Hebrew-speaking defender to uphold those rights. I do not think that, unlike his colleague Hanin Zouabi who seeks the end of Jewish statehood, who offends our military and police forces, who participates in illegal attempts at blocking the gateway to a free Gaza, that he follows her obnoxious attitudes and behavior. She is an enemy of the State in which she was born.

His power lies in the strength of his voice and he speaks loudly to protect the rights of Arab citizens. He, like many Jewish citizens, rejects the clauses in Bibi’s Nation-State law which is certainly discriminatory against our Arab, Druze and Circassian minorities represented in the Knesset of Israel.

In 1918 when Palestine became the League of Nations mandate given to Great Britain, one of the first laws passed was the equality of three languages, Arabic, Hebrew and English, to be the official languages of British Palestine, continued after independence in 1948 by the Jewish State of Israel.

Suddenly, under the dreadful Nation-State law, without any legitimate reason, the Arabic language of 20% of our population was eliminated as one of the three official languages and in its place it was reduced to a “special status”.

There was no logical reason for that clause to be inserted into the Nation-State law other than to humiliate the Arab Israelis and Druze citizens and make them feel as second-class citizens.

God be praised that President Rivlin came out forcefully, declaring that “there are no second-class citizens in Israel. All are equal in the eyes of the law and in accordance with our 1948 Declaration of Independence wherein our minority citizens have the same rights and privileges as the Jews.”

It is not a confrontation between Bibi and Tibi.  It is a confrontation, however, between Bibi and Ruby, our respective Prime Minister and our President.

It would be proper for the Prime Minister, in his next remarks to the nation, to acknowledge his “slip” of the tongue and to correct the wrong which was both un-democratic, unjust and above all, un-Jewish.

Regrettably, Bibi’s ego will not allow him to apologize. His shame will be included in our history books.

And, in a non-related matter but also touching upon Israel’s turn from democracy, HaAretz newspaper reported today that Miri Regev, our Minister of Culture, has issued a ruling that Jewish representatives from diaspora countries will from now on be deprived of the honor of lighting a candle at Israel’s annual Independence Day ceremony..  “Good Israelis” only !

I smell the hand of Netanyahu who vents his anger against the diaspora Jews who have condemned his actions. Who can be sure? In our Israeli politics no one can determine where the stinking stench is coming from.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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