The Israeli Communist Forum welcomes the creation of the Joint Electoral Slate, bringing together Hadash (Democratic Front for Peace and Equality), Balad (National Democratic Alliance), Ra’am (United Arab List) and Ta’al (Arab Renewal Movement). This joint list was founded, in the first place, as an urgent response to the increase of the threshold percentage in the Knesset elections to 3.25%. The initiators of that measure had the explicit aim of diminishing the representation of the parties representing the vast majority of the Arab population in Israel – and in particular, of hitting at Hadash, whose basic principle is Jewish-Arab cooperation and solidarity.
According to the opinion polls, the Joint Slate is expected to gain 12 Knesset seat. Thus, its formation not only prevented a very concrete danger of whole parties being completely wiped out, but in fact opened the possibility of increased parliamentary representation (at present, the partners to this list hold 11 seats). The possibility for an even bigger representation is dependent on a joint effort to increase the percent of voting amongst the Arab population, which in past elections was significantly lower than that among the Jewish population.
At the head of the Joint Slate is Hadash Secretary Ayman Odeh. Among the first ten candidates of the slate, who are expected to gain Knesset seats, are three additional Hadash members: Aida Toma-Sliman (5 ) incumbent Knesset member Dov Khenin (8 ) and Yusef Jabarin (10) .
Participation in the Joint Slate does not erase its partners’ unique political and ideological identities (they actually have considerable differences of opinion on many issues), nor does it imply the abolition of their independent organizational structures. Still, the slate reflects the strong desire to unite around major common goals. In particular, having a common electoral slate would add strength to major struggles, vital to all these partners: against the policies of war and the occupation, against the discrimination of the Arab population in Israel, against the increasing erosion of democratic freedoms and the upsurge of racist and fascist manifestations, as well as against draconian anti-social economic policies enacted by the current government and its predecessors.
On all these issues there is broad common ground, which already clearly manifested itself in the past – particularly in the fact that, though hitherto being several separate political formations, the partners to the Joint Slate had voted similarly in the vast majority of Knesset debates.
All components of the Joint Slate are staunchly committed to oppose any new warlike adventure – should such occur in the coming years – from its very first day. This, in contrast to all other Israeli political formations, which have the record of either enthusiastically supporting wars or falling silent as soon as the first shots are heard. At best, some of these other parties start criticizing wars only at a late stage of the fighting. (Such, for example, is the record of the Israeli political system during the latest bloodletting in Gaza – during whose fifty days the mass killing of innocent Palestinians, as well as and the destruction of houses, schools, hospitals and other vital infrastructure, were carried out on a larger scale than ever before).
Moreover, all components of the Joint Slate have a clear past record of opposing all racist and anti-democratic legislation – and a firm commitment to maintain such opposition, in the event that further such legislation be placed on the agenda in the coming years. To all components of the slate it is clear that such legislation is not only aimed at generally circumscribing democratic freedoms in Israel. Its specific and particular aim – as often stated explicitly by the authors of such legislation – is to ultimately exclude from Israeli politics the Arab population and its political representatives, as well as the consistent democratic Jewish forces.
All components of the Joint Slate will maintain an untiring struggle against any and every manifestation of the ongoing discriminatory policies against the Arab population, against any conspiracy of ethnic cleansing (“population transfer”) and against the rising tide of racism, which is becoming increasingly open and blatant even among parts of the so-called “political center.”
The Joint Slate will be the most consistent part in any parliamentary block formed to oppose the creation of a new right-wing government. Every vote cast for this slate would be an unadulterated vote against the continued rule of Netanyahu and his extreme right partners.
The fact that the Joint Slate brings together various political forces from the Arab population should in no way replace or contradict the continuation of the joint Jewish-Arab struggle. The continuation and strengthening of that struggle is an indispensable precondition in any effort to bring about a basic change of the political situation in Israel. To the contrary, establishment of the Joint Slate can actually serve to increase this type of joint struggle and the adhesion of additional forces which did not take part in it in the past.
The Israeli Communist Forum calls upon all consistent peace-seekers, all over the country – Jews and Arabs, men and women – to exert themselves to the utmost for the success of the Joint Slate. Such support would constitute the most decisive response to the policies of war, occupation, discrimination, racism and threatened ethnic cleaning. It would be the strongest and clearest reinforcement to the consistent camp of peace, equality and democracy in this country.