The Political Logic of Zionism

Power at Any Cost: How Opportunistic Mansour Abbas Joined Hands with Avowed ‘Arab Killers’

We are led to believe that history is being made in Israel, following the formation
of an ideologically diverse government coalition, which for the first time includes
an Arab party, Ra’am, or the United Arab List.

If we are to accept this logic, the leader of Ra’am, Mansour Abbas, is a mover
and shaker of history, the same way that Naftali Bennett of the far-right Yamina
party, and Yair Lapid, the supposed “centrist” of Yesh Atid – New Hope
– are also history makers. How bizarre.

Sensational media headlines and hyperboles aside, Israel’s new government was
a desperate attempt by Israeli politicians to dislodge Benjamin Netanyahu, the
country’s longest-serving prime minister, from power. While Lapid is fairly
new to Israel’s contentious politics, Bennett and Abbas are opportunists par
excellence.

Lapid is a former TV anchorman. Despite his claims to centrist ideologies,
his political views are as “right” as they get. The problem is, such characters
as Bennett, Ayelet Shaked, also of Yamina, and Netanyahu himself, of course,
among others, have relocated the center of Israel’s political spectrum further
to the right, to the point that the right became the center and the ultra-right
became the right. This is how Israel’s neofascist
and extremist politicians
managed to become kingmakers in Israel’s politics.
Bennett, for example, who in 2013 bragged about “killing lots of Arabs” in his
life is set to be the prime minister of Israel.

It is in this strange context that we must understand Mansour Abbas’s position.
His meager four seats at the Israeli Knesset made his party critical in forming
the coalition that is purposely created to oust Netanyahu. Ra’am does not represent
Israel’s Palestinian Arab communities, and by joining the government, Abbas
is certainly not making history in terms of finding common grounds between Arabs
and Jews in a country that is rightly recognized
by Israeli and international human rights groups as an apartheid state.

To the contrary, Abbas is moving against the current of history. At a time
that Palestinians throughout historic Palestine – the occupied Palestinian
territories and today’s Israel – are finally unifying
around a common national narrative, Abbas is insisting on redefining the Palestinian
agenda merely to secure a position for himself in Israeli politics – thus,
supposedly “making history.”

But even before Abbas shook hands with Bennett and other Israeli extremists
who advocate the killing of Palestinians as a matter of course, he made it clear
that he was willing to join a Netanyahu-led government. This is one of the reasons
behind the splintering of the once unified Arab political coalition, known as
the Joint List.

Following his meeting
with Netanyahu in February, Abbas justified his shocking turnabout with unconvincing
political platitudes as one “needs to be able to look to the future, and to
build a better future for everyone,” and so on.

The fact that Netanyahu was largely responsible for the despairing outlook
of Israel’s Palestinian communities, seemed entirely irrelevant to Abbas, who
was inexplicably keen on joining any future political alliance even if it included
Israel’s most chauvinistic political actors. Sadly, though not surprisingly,
this has proved to be the case.

Abbas’s position became impossible to sustain in May during the well-coordinated
Israeli war
in Gaza and the racist attacks
on Palestinian communities in Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank and throughout
Israel. But, even then, when Palestinians were finally able to articulate a
common narrative linking the occupation, siege, racism, and apartheid in Jerusalem,
the West Bank, Gaza and Israel together, Abbas insisted but to develop a unique
position that would allow him to sustain his chances of achieving power at any
cost.

Although it was the Palestinian Arab communities that were under systematic
attacks
carried by Israeli Jewish mobs and police, Abbas called
on his community to “be responsible and behave wisely,” and to “maintain public
order and keep the law.” He even parroted similar lines used by right-wing Israeli
Jewish politicians, as he claimed that “peaceful popular protests” by Palestinian
communities inside Israel have turned “confrontational,” thus creating a moral
equilibrium where the victims of racism, somehow, became responsible for their
own plight.

Abbas’s position has not changed since the signing of the coalition deal on
June 2. His political narrative is almost apolitical as he insists on reducing
the national struggle of the Palestinian people to the mere need for economic
developments – not fundamentally different from Netanyahu’s own “economic
peace” proposal in the
past. Worse, Abbas intentionally delinks the state of poverty and underdevelopment
in Palestinian communities from state-championed racial discrimination, which
constantly underfunds Arab communities while spending
exuberant amounts of funds on illegal Jewish settlements that are built on ethnically
cleansed Palestinian lands.

“We have reached a critical mass of agreements in various fields that
serves the interest of Arab society and that provide solutions for the burning
issues in Arab society – planning, the housing crisis, and of course, fighting
violence and organized crime,” Abbas said
triumphantly on June 2, as if the rooted inequality, including communal
violence and organized crime are not direct results of racism, socioeconomic
inequality and political alienation and marginalization.

No history has been made by Abbas. He is but an example of the self-serving
politician and a direct expression of the endemic disunity in the Palestinian
Arab body politic inside Israel.

Sadly, the unprecedented success
of the Arab Joint List following the March 2020 elections, has now culminated
to a tragic end, where the likes of Abbas become the unwelcomed “representative”
of a politically conscious and awakened community.

In truth, Mansour Abbas, a Palestinian Arab politician who is willing to find
common ground with extremists and proud “Arab killers,” only represents himself.
The future shall attest to this claim.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of The
Palestine Chronicle
. He is the author of five books. His latest is These
Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli
Prisons
(Clarity Press, Atlanta). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior
Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul
Zaim University (IZU). His website is
www.ramzybaroud.net.

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