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The coming elections will be decided–and perhaps have already been decided–by an anonymous person, whose nom-de-guerre is “Nadav”.
“Nadav” calls himself an “expert” in the service of the General Security Service (known by its Hebrew acronym Shabak or Shin-Bet). According to him, his official title is “chief of the research department in the field of Israeli Arabs.”
If “Nadav” were the commander of an armored brigade and instigated a military coup-d’etat, like a South-American general of old, the results of his action would not be much different. Of course, his bosses did not send their tanks to the Knesset, neither did they arrest leftist leaders and drop them from helicopters into the sea. Of course not. They are much more humane. They only use paper.
“Nadav’s” paper is an “expert opinion” submitted to the Central Election Committee by the Attorney General. In it, the man in quotation marks–the quotation marks appear in the document itself–states that the Balad party aims to destroy the State of Israel, to aid and abet the enemies of the state, to incite the Arab citizens to rebellion, and more of the same.
On the basis of this expert opinion, the committee intends to disqualify Balad and its leader, Azmi Bishara, together with some other Arab MKs, from taking part in the elections.
The Election Committee is composed of the representatives of the parties in the outgoing Knesset, on a proportional basis. Therefore, the representatives of the right-wing parties, including the Shinui party, have a majority. They are united in their hatred of Arabs, and they also have a common interest in their expulsion from the Knesset. They will follow the orders of the “security establishment”, as the Knesset majority has always done. In the past, this was done discreetly, but lately it is happening quite openly. “Nadav’s” bosses can count on them.
When a senior officer speaks, the Knesset stands at attention. In most cases, this applies also to the Supreme Court judges, one of whom is the chairman of the Election Committee.
The intervention of the Security Service in the election campaign is much more than a cosmetic defect. It is also much more than an act against the Arab citizens. It concerns every person in Israel, and most of all the Jewish public. Because this is a putsch that changes the very fabric of the state.
In order to understand why this is so, one has to analyze the Israeli electorate. It is composed of five large blocs, as follows:
1. The middle-class Ashkenzi (European-Jewish) sector, which votes mostly for Labor and Meretz.
2. The Oriental-Jewish (also called Sephardi) sector, which votes mostly for the Likud party.
3. The religious and orthodox sector, which votes mostly for the two orthodox parties (Agudat-Israel and Shas) and the Mafdal (National Religious) party.
4. The sector of the new immigrants from the former Soviet Union, who vote mostly for the two Russian parties (led by Natan Sharansky and Avigdor Liberman).
5. The Arab sector, which votes mostly for the three or four Arab parties.
Sectors 2-3-4 constitute the right-wing camp. Sectors 1 and 5 constitute the Left. The two camps are almost equal in size, and elections are generally decided by the “floating votes” that swim with the current.
(In the forthcoming elections, the picture is blurred by the unexpected growth of a comparatively new party, Shinui [Change], which is almost entirely composed of well-to-do Ashkenazis, united mainly in their fervent hatred of the religious people. Seemingly, this party has no clear stand on the crucial problems of war and peace. But its unquestioned leader, Tommy Lapid, a journalist and television personality, is basically a rabid chauvinist. He has already declared that under no circumstances will he join a coalition that includes Arabs.)
One glance at this political map shows that without the Arab votes, no left-wing coalition has any chance of forming a government–not today, nor in the foreseeable future. Worse, without the Arab votes there can be no “preventive bloc”, such as those which have played a crucial role in the last ten years. In order to prevent the setting up of a right-wing coalition, such a bloc needs 60 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. This means that without the Arabs, the Left cannot even dictate terms for its participation in a coalition dominated by the Right. It could join such a coalition only with raised hands, like prisoners of war.
Against this background, the full implications of the putsch of “Nadav” and his bosses can be grasped. If the Balad party or its chief is disqualified, all or most of the Arab citizens will boycott the elections. The Arab sector, constituting almost 20% of the Israeli population, will disappear from the political map. Without it, there is no chance for the Left ever to return to power, or even to play a meaningful role in a “Unity Government”.
If the leftist parties, headed by Labor, do not put up a determined fight against this conspiracy, it will be tantamount to suicide.
When a coup d’etat of this sort is carried out by the General Security Service, it means that Israel is leaving the community of democratic countries and joining the Third World. This does not concern the Arab citizens only. It concerns every Jewish citizen, too.
URI AVNERY has closely followed the career of Sharon for four decades. Over the years, he has written three extensive biographical essays about him, two (1973, 1981) with his cooperation. Avnery is featured in the new book, The Other Israel: Voices of Refusal and Dissent.