Attempting to display a shred of dignity toward a population that he would otherwise prefer to pretend does not exist, Prime Minister elect Benjamin Netanyahu recently issued an apology to “Israeli Arabs” for his outlandishly racist Election Day remarks that “Arabs voters are going to the polls en masse.” Not surprisingly and quite typical of any colonial autocrat, Netanyahu orchestrated his apology before a group of truly authentic “natives”; elderly men clad in the archetypical exotic dress of the Orient and who thereby perforce represent the country’s Arab population.
Even aside from the glaring fact that for the average Palestinian citizen of Israel, such garb bears far more resemblance to the multitude of popular Egyptian soap operas than anything found in their daily lives, one can’t help but muse why Netanyahu chose to render his apology to a crowd of elderly men rather than the 12 recently elected Palestinian Arabs (not including Israeli Jew Dov Khenin from Hadash) from the Joint List that actually represent the majority of the country’s Arabic speaking population? After all, if Netanyahu sincerely sees “…in every Israeli citizen a partner in the building of a flourishing and safe state of Israel for all”, then surely he would have no reservations in convening members of the Joint List together and publicly apologizing to them for his unabashedly discriminatory comments that Palestinian citizens of Israel exercising their civic right and duty somehow constitutes a threat to society and civilization.
Needless to say, regardless of how many local Arab leaders he coopts, Netanyahu has no plans or intentions of initiating any form of dialogue with or incorporating Israel’s Palestinian citizens into the mainstream sociopolitical or economic dynamic, nor will he or his future coalition attempt to engage the Joint List on any meaningful level. Thus, in offering his perfunctory apology to a cohort of kufiyya and thobe wearing “tribal elders,” Netanyahu’s message to over 20 percent of the country’s population could not resonate clearer: “modern” Arabs seeking genuine representation and influence in the body politic are not welcome.