Israel bans Arab parties from contesting elections

Israel — touted hy its supporters as “the only democracy in the Middle East” — has banned two Arab parties from contesting February’s general election:

The Central Elections Committee on Monday banned Arab political parties from running in next month’s parliamentary elections, drawing accusations of racism by an Arab lawmaker who said he would challenge the decision in the country’s Supreme Court.

The ruling, made by the body that oversees the elections, reflected the heightened tensions between Israel’s Jewish majority and Arab minority caused by Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip. Israeli Arabs have held a series of demonstrations against the offensive.

Knesset spokesman Giora Pordes said the election committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of the motion, accusing the country’s Arab parties of incitement, supporting terrorist groups and refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Arab lawmakers have traveled to countries listed among Israel’s staunchest enemies, including Lebanon and Syria.

The 37-member committee is composed of representatives from Israel’s major political parties. The measure was proposed by two ultranationalist parties but received widespread support.

The decision does not affect Arab lawmakers in predominantly Jewish parties or the country’s communist party, which has a mixed list of Arab and Jewish candidates. Roughly one-fifth of Israel’s 7 million citizens are Arabs. Israeli Arabs enjoy full citizenship rights, but have suffered from discrimination and poverty for decades.

Arab lawmakers Ahmed Tibi and Jamal Zahalka, political rivals who head the two Arab blocs in the Knesset, joined together in condemning Monday’s decision.

This is not the first time the Balad Party have been banned: they were banned in 2002, in part because they wanted Israel to be a state of all its citizens and not a Jewish state (the ban was overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court in 2003).

(via American Footprints)

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3 Responses to Israel bans Arab parties from contesting elections

  1. scarf says:

    That country is at war, and calling for the country you are a citizen of, and an elected politician in, to lose and be totally destroyed, could well be considered sedition or even treason.
    Thus, the unhappy compromise of not charging the politicians but of refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the parties they belonged to.
    Not a great day for democracy, but understandable, on both sides.

  2. cabalamat says:

    Scarf: That country is at war, and calling for the country you are a citizen of, and an elected politician in, to lose and be totally destroyed, could well be considered sedition or even treason.

    What does it mean for Israel to “be totally destroyed”? Does it mean for the Israeli people to be exterminated, or does it merely mean the desire for different constitutional arrangements to be upheld in that land?

    If the latter, then there are plenty of Parliamentarians in the Westminster parliament and the European parliament who’ve called for the same thing — and no-one is saying they be kicked out.

    If the former, have all of the MKs who are members of the banned parties said such things? If not, then surely it is wrong to punish someone for someone else’s actions.

    My understanding is that Balad’s main plank is that Israel be an Israeli state where all Israelis, regardless of ethnicity or background, be trreated equally. This I regard as entirely uncontroversial and something all decent people should support. If the Israeli political establishment doesn’t support it, they are not decent people, they are vile racist bigots.

  3. scarf says:

    ‘vile racist bigots’….
    You sound so reasonable, for awhile, Cabalamat, and then you blow it in the last three words.
    Ah well, nice try.
    How about those German newcomers changing their family name to Windsor; could it have been to avoid the prejudice, should i say the vile prejudice of bigots, in the U.K. at the time.
    You manage to add the word ‘racist’, which, considering that the arabs and jews are both semitic, seems bizarre, but oh my, it sounds so good doesn’t it.
    In a far less than perfect world, the israelis aren’t doing too badly.
    For example, in a far less charged Canada of 1947, a twice elected federal member of parliament, Fred Rose, was arrested, tried and convicted of being a spy for the soviet union; there was never any evidence but the say so of a junior soviet cypher clerk who wished to remain in canada when ordered home by his government. Others were arrested and were, as we now know, forcibly advised to confess; Rose didn’t, but was convicted anyway and sent to prison.
    Btw, Paul Robeson, the american singer, campaigned for Rose in his second winning election.
    The Communist Party, if my memory serves me, was outlawed for a period of time in the U.S.
    Lord Halifax, member of the house of lords, who wished to make a deal with the Nazis prewar rather than fighting them, and that can hardly be called sedition or treason, was arrested for a time, and likely would have been in jail a lot longer save for his very high position.
    There are other similar examples.
    How about the canadians and americans rounding up all their japanese ancestry citizens and putting them into holding camps for the five/six years of ww2, and, btw, never returning their property after their release.
    It’s not a perfect world, sorry.

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