Anti-Zionism is glue that holds radically different parties of Arab List together

The four parties of the Joint Arab List differ politically and religiously, but their anti-Zionism is what holds them together.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The kind of government will be formed after Tuesday’s elections is far from known, but the Arab Joint List has already announced that it will lead the opposition.

This seems an almost sure bet, as it’s the third-largest party in the Knesset and, historically, no Arab party has been part of a governing coalition.

The head of the opposition receives briefings on national security-related matters, and meets with  foreign leaders who come on official visits.

Since this would be the first time that an Arab party will enjoy such a significant status, it is instructive to know what the parties who make up the Joint List stand for – in their own words.

There are four parties in the Joint List: Balad, Hadash, Ta’al and the United Arab List.

Balad’s stated purpose is to transform Israel into a bi-national “state of all its citizens” and grant the “right of return” to Palestinian refugees and their descendants. At the same time, it supports the creation of a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders.

One of Balad’s founders, Azmit Bishara, fled Israel after being charged with treason for aiding the terror group Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War.

After a party meeting in March in which the Palestinian national anthem was played, Balad’s newly elected leader Mtanes Shehadeh said that “The Israeli flag and anthem doesn’t represent us (the Arab public); it is a part of the oppression we experience.”

Ta’al’s ideology is almost identical to Balad’s. Its founder, long-time Knesset member, Dr. Ahmad Tibi, was an ardent supporter of the terrorist Palestine Liberation Organization during the 1980s. He acted as a political adviser to its leader Yasser Arafat.

Last month, he said in an Israeli radio interview that “[Israeli arch-enemy] Hamas is not a terrorist organization. It is one of the factions that represents the Palestinian people and it is a legitimate faction.”

Ra’am is the political wing of the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement. It shares the same radical Muslim ideology as the Israeli-banned Northern Branch, meaning that its leaders believe that Israel is a relic of Western colonialism and must be destroyed.

The Jewish State is “a thorn in the side of the [Arab] Ummah,” in the words of former head Ibrahim Sarsur. In a 2017 TV interview, Ra’am party chairman Dr. Mansour Abbas refused to condemn the wounding or killing of Israeli soldiers in Judea and Samaria by Palestinians. When pressed to answer whether or not he considers soldiers “innocent” he refused to answer.

Hadash is a merger of the Israeli Communist party and other far-left groups.

The sole Jewish member of the Joint List belongs to Hadash, MK Ofer Cassif. He said on Sunday that the Netanyahu government has “committed crimes against humanity” and has spoken in the past of the “genocide” Israel is perpetrating against Palestinians.

Hadash party chairman Ayman Odeh – who leads the Joint List – is a self-declared socialist who publicly embraces equality between Arabs and Jews.

He said last year that “the occupation will be defeated and all of Jerusalem will remain for the Palestinian nation as the capital of Palestine.”