Hadash MK Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint List, condemned in a television interview on Saturday evening, October 9, the decision of the Israeli government to involve the military and Shin Bet security service in a crackdown on violence in the Arab community. “I do not want the Shin Bet for the Arabs and the police for the Jews. We are not a security issue but a civilian one,” Odeh said in an interview with Channel 12’s Meet the Press.
Odeh’s scathing criticism was in response to far-right Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s announcement on October 3, that he intends to involve the military and the General Security Service (GSS, Shin Bet/Shabak) in a crackdown against rampaging crime, violence and illegally held weapons in Israel’s Arab communities.
In the same interview, MK Odeh tore into Islamic party Ra’am, accusing these partners in Bennett’s coalition of abandoning issues important to the Arab-Palestinian national minority in Israel. “As citizens of this country, we need to talk about peace, occupation, democracy, social justice, the environment — and not just about municipal roads and streets,” Odeh said, implying that Ra’am was failing Israel’s Arab community despite its being a member of the ruling coalition. “There is one faction in the Knesset that works according to its conscience and for the benefit of all citizens, and that is the Joint List,” he said.
“Jews are not questioned why they talk about the settlements in the occupied territories or the Gaza Strip, but Arabs in Israel are expected to talk only about internal issues,” Odeh charged. “The establishment has always wanted us to talk only about civil and economic rights and nothing else. A national home? Only for Jews… I do not accept that! We are part of the people.”
Ra’am ran as part of the Joint List alliance in previous elections, but broke from it over Abbas’s willingness to work with then-premier far-right Benjamin Netanyahu before the March election this year. In joining the coalition when the new government was formed in June, Ra’am became the first Arab party to do so in decades and the first to be a crucial element in maintaining the far-right government’s fragile majority.