The suffering of the Palestinians within Israel is not limited to the injustice and racism to which they are exposed — such as the Jewish Nation State Law, for example — or to the violence, killing and shootings that the community faces, including the attempted assassination of Dr Suleiman Agbaria, a former Mayor of Umm Al-Fahm and one of the leaders of the Northern Islamic Movement headed by Sheikh Raed Salah. The latter has been persecuted by the authorities for decades and is currently in prison. Their suffering has reached a political level in the form of the strange tendency to support the right-wing Likud party headed by Benjamin Netanyahu.
An article headed “Bibi Habibi” in Yedioth Ahranoth on Friday noted the possibility that tens of thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel will, for the first time in their lives, vote for the Likud party. The report mentioned some striking and odd testimonies about Palestinian authenticity and patriotism that calls for dignity and not abandoning the national identity, and being drawn to leaders and icons of racist policies in Israel under the pretext of “we want to live”.
Among those testimonies was one from Mustafa Houboub who lives in Umm Al-Fahm. “If Bibi [Netanyahu] succeeded in making peace with five Arab countries and we are part of the Arabs, then this means that he deals with us as equals,” said Houboub. “Netanyahu has changed for the better and I do not care what his motives are, the important thing to me is that I want equality, I want electricity, infrastructure, and budgets.”
Another citizen called Hisham Suleiman said, “We are one nation, who cares about Mahmoud Abbas? Netanyahu is the best. Without Arabs, how will you build your homes? Who will prepare your food? Who will do the maintenance and repair work? Without Jews, how can we have advanced technology, banks and an economy?”
I believe that the development of such views that are rejected widely within Palestinian circles, and are morally repugnant, is actually an important form of political suffering for the Palestinians within Israel. Such positions, though, may have been encouraged by Mansour Abbas of the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement, who has grown closer to Netanyahu recently. This is evident in the size of the political gap between the northern and southern branches of the movement.
What Adam Raz revealed in Haaretz on Saturday may act as a reminder to those thinking about flocking to the Likud and straight into Netanyahu’s traps. Raz wrote about the oppressive military rule that prevailed in the Palestinian areas in Israel post-Nakba, to which more than 85 per cent of Palestinians were subjected for 18 years. He quoted Yehoshua Palmon, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s adviser, who stated that the military rulers in the Triangle of Arab cities used what they called “illegal pressure during interrogations of [Palestinian] residents, such as using dogs, threats and the like.”
Raz relayed other testimonies about Israel’s rule with an iron fist, as well as insulting language and violence against children, specifically threats to vote for a certain candidate. He also revealed the confessions of some Israeli policemen:
“Were you imbued with the feeling that the Arabs are the enemies of the State of Israel?” he asked one police officer.
“Yes,” was the simple reply.
“Would you kill anyone? Even a woman, a child?”
Raz then added that the military government apparatus was dismantled years ago, but its spirit lives on in Israel and outside it, not least in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Do the delusional Palestinians in Israel who are giving serious thought to backing Likud in the next election not understand what the overwhelming majority of their people know full well; that Israel is a settler-occupation state, and the Likud is a racist movement that does not want good for Arabs and Palestinians?
This article first appeared in Arabic published by the Palestinian Information Centre on 10 January 2021.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.