Racism plays hard in Israeli elections

Racism plays hard in Israeli elections
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Netanyahu’s party took the most seats in the Israeli Knesset election by using a last minute racist push that is similar to the efforts to prevent Blacks from winning office in America. But the key is while Obama and Europe have stood up to Netanyahu’s racism and Apartheid-like policies, where is the Arab World to stand up to him too?

By Ray Hanania

RayHanania03-2015NameThmbIn 1983 when African American legislator Harold Washington defeated two powerful White politicians, incumbent Mayor Jane M. Byrne and Cook County State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley, the fear of a black mayor provoked a racist backlash.

The Republican candidate, Bernard Epton, who many had written off because Republicans have so few votes in Chicago, became the new “Great White Hope.” He rallied White voters in the final election to try to block Washington using the campaign slogan, “Epton for Mayor: Before It’s Too Late!”

The racist message was clear. Epton became one of the strongest Republican challengers to the Chicago Democratic organization ever, coming within 40,000 votes of defeating Washington in a race that drew a record 1.2 million voters.

This week in Israel, we are reminded that racism remains a powerful election force.

Extremist Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is poised to be only the second person to hold the post three terms since the election of Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion in 1948. Netanyahu became prime minister in 2009 and on Tuesday, March 17, 2015, led his rightwing Likud Party to another victory, winning the largest number of seats, 30, in the 120 seat Knesset.

Chicago Mayor Harold Washington

Chicago Mayor Harold Washington

As Israel’s Prime Minister, Netanyahu has ruled over the destruction of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, claiming to support peace but doing everything possible to prevent it, resulting in unprecedented violence, civilian deaths and destruction.

But who counts the dead in Israel? The dead are apparently only good for provoking voter turnout.

Netanyahu still has to take his Likud party victory from Tuesday and find other parties to become partners with him to form a ruling coalition that needs at least 61 Knesset seats.

Polls and surveys showed that many Israelis were unsure of Netanyahu’s leadership. Polls cited by the progressive pro-Israeli lobbying group, J Street, show that more than 74 percent of the Israeli population had lost faith in Netanyahu.

But like Bernie Epton, Netanyahu used the race-hate card during the final week of the election campaign to provoke a last minute surge in voter support.

In Israel, where Apartheid-like policies and racial discrimination have become acceptable societal practices, Netanyahu basically adopted Epton’s strategy that almost prevented the election of Chicago’s first Black Mayor and the message was just as clear: Bibi Netanyahu: Before it’s too Late.

Netanyahu pointed to the consolidation of non-Jewish citizens in Israel who previously had three major political parties representing them. The combining of the Arab political parties into one Joint List had finally moved Arab Israeli voters to participate in the elections.

In the past, most Arab Israeli citizens have boycotted the elections allowing Israel’s rightwing fanatics to dominate.

On the eve of the election, Netanyahu played the race-hate card without hesitation, as all extremists do.

Yitzhak Rabin photo

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin with President Bill Clinton Photo by The U.S. National Archives

“Right-wing rule is in danger,” Netanyahu warned Israeli voters. “Arab voters are streaming in huge quantities to the polling stations.” Netanyahu was quoted as also asserting that the “Arabs” were being bused to the polling stations, evoking a hateful iconic image that fueled discrimination in America in the 1950s, adding Arab voting
“distorts the true will of the Israelis in favor of the left, and grants excessive power to the radical Arab list.”

And to remind Jewish Israelis, who make up 80 percent of Israel’s population, that he is their “Great White Hope,” Netanyahu declared that if elected as Prime Minister, he would oppose the creation of a Palestinian State and opposed the “Two-State Solution” which has been the basis of every peace plan.

In fact, Netanyahu has never supported peace with the Palestinians. Even before his election, Netanyahu was vocal about opposing peace encouraging his supporters to rally against the government of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who had signed an historic peace accord with Palestinian President Yasir Arafat.

It was a Netanyahu disciple who on Nov. 4, 1995, assassinated Rabin and sent the peace process into Netanyahu’s intended spiraling collapse.

But Netanyahu’s evil is a sign of good news for Civil Rights in Israel where Arab Israeli voters were able to cast their largest vote in the largest voter turnout, electing 14 people to the 120-seat Knesset. The Arab Joint List became the third largest Political Party in Israel on Tuesday, along with Netnayhu’s Likud Party and the centrist Zionist Union headed by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, two moderates who are committed to peace based on Two-States.

Before the election, Herzog vowed that if he becomes prime minister, he would travel to the Occupied West Bank and formally address the Palestinian Legislature and actively push for peace, something that evoked the image of Rabin, Arafat, and also Netanyahu’s predecessor Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

Despite Netanyahu’s “victory,” there is still hope he can be prevented from returning to his racist roost and driving Israel and Palestine deeper into more violence and conflict.

It’s time that the Arab World step up to the plate and join those leaders around the world that have stood up to Netanyahu. President Barack Obama’s relations with Netanyahu have nearly collapsed, and Europe’s leadership has also challenged Netanyahu’s destructive policies.

Where is the Arab World to stand up and show support for the new and stronger Arab voice in Israel?

They need to act “before it’s too late.”

Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist managing editor of The Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @RayHanania.

To find out more about Ray Hanania and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM

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Managing Writer at The Arab Daily News
RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

Click here to send Ray Hanania and email.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com ArabNews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
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