First pro-Israel Arab party formed
Four and a half years ago, I blogged a column by Caroline Glick that claimed that most 'Israeli Arabs' are actually pro-Israel
. So why do they continue to send the likes of Ahmad Tibi and Hanin Zoabi to the Knesset? Because there were no pro-Israel Arab parties. Until now. 42-year old Aatef Karinaoui has founded a party called El Amal Lat’gir — “Hope for Change” - to run for the Knesset
in the upcoming elections. Will he make it? I'm going to be very blunt: I hope he lives long enough to find out.
Karinaoui gives the impression of a man who
believes his time has come. A 42-year-old resident of the Bedouin city
of Rahat in the Negev, he is a traditional Muslim but does not consider
himself religious. Though involved in politics for nearly two decades,
and exceedingly busy preparing his Knesset campaign, he is soft-spoken
and patient. In fact, when we recently spoke, in a cafe at Ben Gurion
Airport, he repeatedly extended our chat to accommodate my questions —
despite the nudging of his staff. And his anger at Israeli Arab
politicians, who he says cultivate the division between Jewish and Arab
Israelis, clearly runs deep.
“All the bad things they say about Israel and
its supposed ill-treatment of Arabs is a lie, a bald-faced lie,” he says
intently, just moments after we’ve sat down. “Arab members of Knesset
are setting a fire. They feed off of the politics of division and don’t
represent the Arab public. The Arab Knesset members do nothing to
educate them or advance their situation… But [at present] there is no
alternative to the current leadership.”
By forming El Amal Lat’gir, which he says is
loyal to Israel and concerned exclusively with social matters, Karinaoui
aims to provide that alternative.
Karinaoui, who is married with five children
(including a daughter currently on a national service program), is the
chairman of the nonprofit organization Social Equality and National
Service in the Arab Sector, which encourages Arabs to shoulder a share
of the national service burden. He’s also in charge of operating
computer centers in Arab cities throughout Israel as part of the Finance
Ministry’s Lehava project, whose goal is to “narrow the digital gap” by
providing access to the Internet in lower-income areas of the country.
“We don’t need the Arab members of Knesset to
obsess over marginal matters and foreign affairs as they’ve been doing,”
he declares. Arab MK Hanin Zoabi participated in the May 2010 Mavi
Marmara bid to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, for instance,
while her colleague Ibrahim Saroor last year denounced the American
“murder” of Osama bin Laden.
Read the whole thing
“We have real, pressing concerns -– 15 people
living in a single house, land issues, education problems,” says
Karinaoui. “We have plenty to deal with. But [Arab MKs] distance us from
the mainstream and don’t want progress. Their leadership is the real
. I think he's a breath of fresh air. But I fear what the Islamists might do to him. Especially if he actually wins.
Labels: Israeli Arab, Knesset elections 2013