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Netanyahu’s fans hail historic speech by Israeli Arab legislator

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  • Netanyahu’s fans hail historic speech by Israeli Arab legislator

    Netanyahu’s fans hail historic speech by Israeli Arab legislator

    This could prove to be very interesting.

    April 2, 2021

    Head of the Ra’am party Mansour Abbas addressed Israelis, in a "state-of-the-nation" like speech, on April 1.

    It was not a dramatic declaration of war nor a historic announcement of peace. Nonetheless, it was probably one of the greatest political TV moments in modern Israeli history. The person facing the cameras in a live broadcast aired in primetime on all major TV channels was not a prime minister, a defense minister or military chief — he was a politician, rather anonymous until recent months, who heads Israel’s Arab Islamist party.

    Speaking in Hebrew, Abbas addressed first and foremost the Jewish electorate, which up to that moment regarded him as a cross between a Hamas terrorist and a clone of reviled Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. His party Ra’am had sent shockwaves through Israeli politics by garnering sufficient votes in the March 23 elections to command four Knesset seats. With his April 1 speech, Abbas again made history.

    Since announcing several months ago that he would not rule out membership in a coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abbas has stirred up a hornet nest. Ahead of the elections, Abbas split from the Arab Joint List with which Ra’am had run previously and which continues to view Netanyahu as the devil incarnate. He mobilizes sufficient votes to cross the 3.25% Knesset electoral threshold, crushing the Joint List in the process and sending it plunging from 15 seats to six.

    The hype and promo for his address to the nation this week was fit for a Hollywood star. The political right, which would normally have called to boycott Abbas and mounted furious protests, awaited his speech with bated breath. Netanyahu’s followers were glued to the performance of the man who heads Israel’s equivalent of the Muslim Brotherhood. They seemed to be in love.

    Addressing the nation at 8 p.m., the start of the primetime evening news shows, has in recent years become the sole prerogative of the one and only Benjamin Netanyahu. This was the first time ever that an Arab politician occupied that timeslot. Abbas did so with skill and charm. Within minutes he had morphed from an archvillain into everyone’s favorite Arab. The Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology, the adherence to Muslim religious law, Sharia, the branding of Israel as a bone stuck in the throat of the Middle East — all were swept under the rug. Even the Jewish ultra-Orthodox parties cheered in a display of brotherhood among religious minorities.

    Not so long ago, during a TV interview with Ynet March 16, Netanyahu was asked whether he would form a government supported by Ra’am and Abbas. He said No. “I unequivocally pledge that there will be no such thing, I will not lean on them [for outside-the-government support] and I will not include them [in the government], neither in abstention [in a Knesset confidence vote of the new government], nor anything, because they are an anti-Zionist party.”

    Israelis are used to Netanyahu’s meaningless declarations and false promises. What is different this time is the one simple fact that without Abbas, Netanyahu does not have sufficient Knesset votes to form a government. Period. His political life and probably his personal freedom depend on the protege of Turkey’s Islamist president, on the ally of the Muslim Brotherhood from Luxor, on the man Netanyahu’s son Yair Netanyahu called “the Israeli branch of Hamas” just two years ago.

    Abbas did not mention the occupation of Palestinian territory in his speech, nor the Israeli Nationality Law on the country’s Jewish character, or other explosive issues at the heart of the deep ideological divide between his voters and Israel’s Jewish mainstream. He talked of brotherhood, of a shining future, of coexistence and the desire to integrate into Israeli society. For Netanyahu’s fans, it was enough. They rushed to certify his speech as kosher — anything to save their leader. Whether this will suffice to win over the other partners Netanyahu needs for his coalition, such as the Religious Zionist Party, is highly doubtful.


    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

  • #2
    Not at all surprised.
    "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

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