Israel Bans Arab Parties


One of the most hopeful and impressive aspects of Israeli society, in my view, has long been the relatively cordial relations between the country’s Jewish majority and the “Israeli Arab” minority group of non-Jewish Arab Israeli citizens who live on the Israeli side of the 1948 ceasefire line. The relationship hasn’t been without its problems and allegations of discrimination, but by the standards of multiethnic polities Israel has done pretty well, and Israel’s friends could plausibly claim that Arabs with Israeli citizenship enjoyed more civil and political rights than did Arab citizens of Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, or the rest. Now there seems to be trouble in paradise:

The Central Elections Committee on Monday banned Arab political parties from running in next month’s parliamentary elections, drawing accusations of racism by an Arab lawmaker who said he would challenge the decision in the country’s Supreme Court.

The ruling, made by the body that oversees the elections, reflected the heightened tensions between Israel’s Jewish majority and Arab minority caused by Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip. Israeli Arabs have held a series of demonstrations against the offensive.

This doesn’t effect Arab Israelis who are members of Zionist parties or the Communist Party. Among other things, this seems like a poorly timed PR move.