Jewish Israelis who value equality and want a ‘sane’ country should support the Arab-dominated list, says member Masud Ganaim at Tel Aviv launch event.
The Arab Joint List launched its Hebrew-language campaign in central Tel Aviv Wednesday evening and unveiled its slogan: “My answer to racism.” Displayed behind the chairmen of the four parties on the list, the phrase was set against a photo of graffiti reading, “Arabs out,” the scene of one of many anti-Arab hate crimes that have become commonplace in recent years.
Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Arab-Jewish Hadash party and the head of the joint slate, comprised of three Arab parties and Hadash party, spoke along with Masud Ganaim of Ra’am, Jamal Zahalka of Balad and Ahmed Tibi of Ta’al.
Odeh presented the Joint List’s platform as one advancing equality, social justice and national justice, but said that main element of the platform is national rights for Arabs.
“We deserve civil and national equality,” Odeh said. “We have heard a lot about social justice. We have been fighting for it for decades.”
The newly elected Hadash chairman said that even though not every Israeli will vote for them, the list represents everyone and is reaching out to the weak sectors of society, including Mizrahi Jews and Ethiopians. Narrowing the gaps between Arabs and Jews and encouraging the employment of Arab women is a top priority, he added.
Odeh also addressed the wider political landscape, lamenting that in Israeli society that those who support the Jewish nation state bill are considered the mainstream, while people who are pro-Democracy are considered radical. “One state for all Jews is considered centrist, while one state for all citizens is considered radical.”
Ganaim said they the Joint List is being portrayed as anti-Jewish and anti-Israel, but that any Jewish citizen who values equality and pluralism and who wants a “sane” country should support them. “We want the Hebrew public to hear us. We want to give a calming message.”
Tibi explicitly said that an end to the occupation is one of the party’s main issues.
All four men expressed confidence that the party will garner 15 mandates, noting that if voter turnout in the Arab sector is at least as high as Jewish turnout (67 percent in the last election), then they are guaranteed 15 Knesset seats. Most polls have the List at 12 or 13 seats currently.
MK Haneen Zoabi, who is a waiting for a decision by the Central Elections Committee on a Likud and Yisrael Beitenu petition to disqualify her from the election on Thursday, was noticeably absent. Aida Touma-Suliman of Hadash, the first woman on the list, in the 5th slot, was in the audience. She only got up to the podium to join the four men after she was asked a question about women’s rights.
Touma-Suliman said that women’s rights are an integral part of the slate’s platform, and that she will treat every issue that comes up in the Knesset — not just specifically women’s issues — with “gender glasses.” When someone in the audience asked, “what about gay rights?” neither she nor any of the men responded.
Their campaign launch in Arabic will take place this weekend in Nazareth.