The political news from Israel really could make you lose your mind right now.
A great number of the professionals who are helping Israelis fight the coronavirus pandemic are Palestinian: “18 percent of doctors and 24 percent of nurses and 47 percent of pharmacists,” according to Eli Kowaz of the Israel Policy Forum.
The Israeli health system would collapse without Palestinians. “If the thousands of Arab health workers–doctors, nurses, pharmacists–were to stay at home, the entire system would collapse,” former spy chief Ephraim Halevy wrote in Haaretz.
The only physician in the Israeli parliament (per Kowaz) is a Palestinian: Ahmad Tibi. Dr. Tibi has been playing a leading role in getting out health information during the crisis, in helping to evacuate Israelis from other countries— including former IDF soldiers who were smoking pot in faraway places to decompensate after years of raiding Palestinian homes and arresting children in the West Bank.
Dr. Tibi celebrates the work of health workers both Jewish and Arab in this inspiring video (screenshot above). Dr. Tibi also posted the photo of praying health-care workers at the top of this article with the message, “Let us all be healthy, Jews and Arabs. We will defeat the Corona virus, overcome the racism virus.”
The racism virus. Benjamin Netanyahu, the caretaker prime minister who faces trial on corruption charges, has been attacking those very Palestinian legislators, including Dr. Tibi, in racist billboards (above) and chalktalks to the press. Netanyahu dismissed the 15 seats the Palestinians won in the March 2 election as non-factors in the coalition math that will produce a new government. He only counts Jewish legislators on the sheet below! 105.
Netanyahu speaks of the Palestinian legislators as “terrorists,” and his lieutenant in the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, says that if the opposition Blue White were to form a governing coalition based on the outside support of the 15 seats of Palestinian Joint List, that would be “anarchy.”
Netanyahu’s 58-seat bloc of Jewish legislators contains a lot of “extreme racist and messianic Jews,” as Yossi Alpher writes at Americans for Peace Now.
One of them, Yaakov Litzman, is the health minister and he said last week that the “messiah will arrive before Pesach to liberate us [from corona]”. Here’s the full quote:
We are praying and hoping that Moshiach (messiah) will arrive before Passover as it is a time of our redemption. I am sure that the Messiah will come by Passover and save us the same way God saved us during the Exodus and we were freed. The Moshiach will come and save us all.”
Some liberal Zionists in Israel are calling attention to this atrocity. “Anyone who disqualifies the Arab MKs [members of Knesset] disqualifies their supporters, including the doctors who are currently saving the lives of Israelis–Jews, Arabs and Druze alike. This is a disgrace and, worse, a self-inflicted wound,” says Halevy in Haaretz, as reported by Americans for Peace Now.
While Neri Zilber, an Israel advocate, told the Israel Policy Forum, “you can’t argue that you’re the only democracy in the Middle East” when you say that the votes of 20 percent of your citizenry don’t count.
There ought to be daily outrage from American Jews about these evolutions of the Jewish state, but… hey, 95 percent of American Jews are Zionists, according to the leading media advocates of Zionism, so the Miracle that is Israel is their immaculate conception.
But– and here’s the kicker– it looks like Netanyahu is going to stay prime minister because of all this racism.
Blue-White has been unable to form a “minority” government to replace Netanyahu, using the 15 votes of the Palestinians, because Blue-White has been foiled by three rightwingers in its own fold of 61 votes. Three Jewish racists who are opposed to Netanyahu say they won’t be in a government that has even the outside support of Palestinians. (Meaning the Palestinian legislators would have to cast two votes in favor of the government, Zilber says. Once, to install it. Then to pass the budget.)
And using coronavirus, Netanyahu is making himself indispensable and popular. Although today has not been a good day for Netanyahu, with the resignation of Edelstein– yesterday Zilber and Owen Alterman of i24 News both predicted that Benny Gantz will fold and create a “unity” government that keeps Netanyahu prime minister for the next 18 months because Israelis like how Netanyahu is dealing with coronavirus.
There’s a “better chance than not that Gantz cuts a deal with Netanyahu,” Zilber says. “The irony is that it almost took a global pandemic… to potentially save Netanyahu’s political career.”
The Palestinian Joint List could well become the opposition to that government. It’s the third largest party in Israel. Because no Jewish leader of any credibility in Israel ever wants anything to do with them.
Even as Palestinians are saving Jewish lives.
It boggles the mind. And– of course– our newspapers are not explaining this racism to American readers. And U.S. liberal Zionist organizations are not howling about it, as they should be, every day.
But it’s alright, the messiah will stop coronavirus by Passover, so Israelis can stop thinking about Palestinian doctors and nurses and pharmacists soon…