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Where is the Shame in Appointing an Arab Minister? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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As usual, nearly everybody jumped on the bandwagon to attack the first Arab to be appointed as a minister in Israeli government without even attempting to view matters in the correct light. This reminds us of the futile position against the Arabs of 1948 who held Israeli citizenship, against them forming Arab-Israeli political parties and against them entering the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) and so on. Arabs rushed to reject such issues without presenting alternatives. They eventually backed down, only to later exaggerate their welcoming of some of these issues and took pride in doing so.

The appointment of Raleb Majadele as a minister in Olmert’s Israeli government, regardless of the propaganda, remains an acknowledgement of what Israel previously denied, namely, the rights of Palestinians that were suppressed and from which they were deprived for many decades. This prevented them from all that would prepare them for survival, stability, and international recognition, and year after year, it has gradually been forced to recognize their presence and it is at this point that we are entering a new stage. Those objecting to the ministerial post will fail to convince us. Why do they enthusiastically advocate Palestinian voting in Israeli elections? Why is participation in such elections acceptable whereas a ministerial post is forbidden? It is all participation in the political system that may be influenced if not changed by practicing legal rights in Israel itself through candidacy, voting, appointing ministers and active participation rather than a negative severance of ties that has got us nowhere in 58 years.

Within Israel, the Palestinians can think for themselves and make decisions that they believe are correct for their circumstances and will help their situation; they deserve support.

We know that the head of the Labor Party wanted to embarrass the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank by appointing a Palestinian minister whilst Hamas and Fatah continue to fight over posts and privileges in a shameful and painful way. We also know that the Labor Party wants to gain the votes of Palestinians in Israel because of the multitude of parties and lack of voters. In any case, the admittance of Palestinians into Israeli government should trouble Israelis, not Arabs, just as if a Jew sought to enter Palestinian government, the Arab world would stand against it.

Why do we object to something that is practical and useful politically? The Arabs attempted to boycott the Palestinian Knesset representatives but then changed their minds after seeing them at work. The situation here is similar symbolically, morally and logically. The project of liberation by use of force is over just as the pretext of the occupation also by force is finished and matters are now heading towards diplomatic and political resolve both internally and externally. This is the point at which the role of those who believe in these rights and practicing these rights comes in, led by the Palestinians within [Israel].

If the Palestinians of 1948 were able to impose their presence and ally themselves with other Israeli powers to obtain their rights and support their brothers in the occupied territories, why are they being rejected and shamed? We are entering a new stage in the battle against Israel that is based on votes, elections and the extent of public opinion and participation, which will require everybody to unite in order to progress towards giving Palestinians their basic rights by returning their land, establishing their state and bringing back their displaced people.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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