In Defense of Ayman Odeh – Hands off the Joint List

Yossi Schwartz, ISL-RCIT section in Israel/Occupied Palestine, 12.4.2202

As could be predicted Bennet-Meretz’s government has been using the terrorist act of the Palestinian Raad Hazem from the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank to launch state terror against the Palestinians in Jenin and other places. This is happening while the government had suffered a desertion of MK Idit Silman, who until Wednesday was chairwoman of the coalition. This desertion puts a question mark on the possibility of this government to survive. To prevent another desertion this government needs the support of the Joint List.

On Thursday the teetering government made overtures to the Joint List for support and signaled interest in recruiting the majority-Arab Joint List party as a possible lifeline. On Saturday the head of the Joint List Ayman Odeh announced that “the Joint List party would not commit to joining any possible vote of no-confidence to bring down the government if it means helping opposition leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu[i]”. In simple words, Hadash will desert Balad and support Bennett’s government from outside the coalition.

How stupid and demoralizing. The Joint List had 15 MK before it recommended Gantz to Prime Minister. Today they have 6 MK and Bennett is even to the right of Gantz.

However, on Sunday in reaction to the state terror, MK Ayman Odeh in a video posted from the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City addressing himself to the Palestinian citizens of Israel said that: 

Recently, I have met with many groups from occupied Arab Jerusalem. Young Palestinians with Israeli citizenship have told me that they are being harmed and humiliated. I need to tell you from here, the Damascus Gate, that it is a humiliation for one of our sons to join the security forces. Young people must not join the occupation forces. I call on the young people who have already joined, who are no more than one percent, a total of a few thousand, whose joining is insulting and humiliating, I call on them — throw the weapons in their face and tell them that our place is not with you. We will not be part of the injustice and the crime“[ii] Palestinian flags will be hoisted on the walls of Jerusalem and peace will spread in the land of peace“…[iii] 

A spokesperson for Odeh later clarified that the lawmaker’s remarks referred exclusively to those serving in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as opposed to civilian police who serve in Israel of pre-1967 [iv]

On Monday, Aymen called on Jewish Israelis to refuse to serve in the armed forces of Israel in the 1967 occupied lands. He said: “I see Israelis with us in the fight against the occupation and for peace,” …. “We need peace and there is no way to do so without ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel” [v]

These statements caused a storm and attacks from all the Zionist parties and some of the Palestinian citizens of Israel who have illusions that they can be incorporated into the Zionist society. In the real world they can form a bond with the Zionists similar to the bond between the donkey and the rider.

The Jerusalem Post attacked Odeh, comparing him to the far-right Ben Gevir, not to speak on the reaction of Bennett and his friends.

Bennett said that “Odeh’s way is not the way,” preferring instead Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas, “an Arab leader who recognizes Israel as Jewish, who is moderate, and who wants to build connections and lower crime in Arab society. The Smotriches and Ayman Odehes are trying to break this thing,” referring to the coalition. “We will not allow that.” [vi]

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party, in its response to Odeh’s comments Sunday night, threaded the needle between reaffirming that the Joint List will not be recruited into the coalition and leaving space for future point-by-point cooperation, Bennett’s close political partner — Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked — was more forceful, accusing Odeh of incitement” [vii]

The Zionist media reported that the police had asked the attorney general for an opinion on whether Odeh’s remarks warranted opening an investigation into incitement to violence. Several MKs in the opposition Likud party also called for Odeh to be investigated.

Odeh was also attacked by “left-wing” coalition politicians, with Deputy Economy Minister Yair Golan of the Meretz party saying Odeh’s comments “mainly hurt the public he is trying to represent. Golan said that “Odeh hasn’t learned anything from [Ra’am’s Mansour] Abbas. The first thing you need to do is embrace the partnership and become a partner in the coalition, to create an opposite momentum to the continued neglect [of the Arab community] led by right-wing governments, to strengthen the integration of Arab Israeli citizens within Israeli society.” [viii]

Thus, we can see that Israel “the only”, “the best”, and “the most wonderful democracy” is a democracy as long as an Arab politician does not use his democratic right to criticize the repression of the Palestinians. We see that there is no left and right among the Zionists when it comes to the repression of the Palestinians. Like in Rudyard Kipling’s stories (Kim, Gunga Din) on India the good Arab in the eyes of the Zionists is the one who serves the Zionist masters. They already have found their loyal servant in the form of Ra’am’s Mansour Abbas who defends Israel as a Jewish state.

We as revolutionary Marxists defend Odeh against the Zionist’s witch hunt even when we do not agree with Odeh and Hadash (The Stalinist front Odeh leads). In our opinion, the real problem with Hadash is that it attempts to sit in the space between two chairs. One chair is the Zionist chair as it accepts the legitimacy of the Zionist state that is apartheid from the river to the sea. It calls on the Zionist police to defend 

the Palestinian citizens of Israel while the role of the Zionist police is to repress the Palestinians in Israel pre and after 1967. Contrary to the logic of Odeh there are no two Zionist police forces one in Israel pre 67 and another police force for the lands and people occupied in 1967. By recommending Gantz to the position of Prime Minister they opened the door before Mansour Abbas to join Bennett’s government. A few days ago, Odeh was even ready to support Bennett’s government from the outside after attacking, for months, Mansour Abbas for Joining Bennett’s government.

The other chair is its support for the Palestinian’s self-determination in the West Bank and Gaza-20% of Palestine. However, even this mini-Palestinian state is a pipe dream. The Zionists will not accept a mini-Palestinian state even in the size of a washroom. The attacks on Odeh’s s are another proof of the nature of the Zionist apartheid state.

There is nothing new in what Odeh said. He said that the solution is two states. One 80% of Palestine for the Zionists and one 20% for the Palestinians with East Jerusalem its capital. While calling on the Zionist police to defend the Palestinian citizens of Israel he also said that the police is a repressing force against the Palestinians in the 1967 occupied lands and therefore Arab and Israelis should not join this force acting against the people of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. But even this is much too much for the Zionists who love democracy and human rights but only for the chosen people the Zionist Jews.

Today one-third of the Palestinians in the West Bank – the more advanced of the Palestinians, support one democratic Palestinian state from the river to the sea that will include the Jews, while Hadash stands with the supporters of the caricature of the president of the PA Mahmoud Abbas who collaborates with the Israeli police and army against the Palestinian resistance. But even this is too much for the Zionists.

Independent Palestinian parties were not formed in Israel until the 1980s -1990s. They were formed in the late 1980s, with the outbreak of the First Intifada (1987-93). This popular uprising, which engulfed the West Bank and Gaza led the Zionist ruling class to allow the formation of Israeli Arab parties to separate the Palestinian citizens of Israel from the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

By calling on the Palestinian citizens of Israel not to serve in the Zionist armed forces Odeh crossed the line in the eyes of the Zionists. He became the enemy that spoiled the alleged unity of Jews and Arabs in this state declared to be a state only of the Jews.

Crossing the line happened to Azmi Bishara the former head of Balad and to the Northern Islamic movement led by Raed Salah Abu Shakra. When a Palestinian politician crosses the line, he is not useful anymore to the Zionists. After all the existence of Arab parties in the Knesset is useful for the Zionist’s propaganda that Israel is a democracy. An Arab party that says that the police are a repressive force to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and not the defender of democracy is a pain in the butt for the Zionists. 

It is even more so at a time the Zionist state apparatus is engaged in massive state terror. In particular, the forces of repression try to break the resistance in Jenin. Many Palestinians proudly refer to Jenin as “the factory of men and the lion’s den” because of its role in the “armed resistance” against Israel, especially since the beginning of the First Intifada in 1987.

Jenin has seen the emergence of various armed groups, most of which were affiliated with Fatah. The most known group was the Black Panther, whose members were mostly based in the town of Kabatiya and the villages of Arabe, Kafr Rai, and Silat al-Harithiya, as well as the Jenin refugee camp. During the Second Intifada, which erupted in 2000, a new Fatah-affiliated group called al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades was formed. Unlike other places in the West Bank, the Fatah activists in the Jenin area worked closely with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), which continues to have a strong presence in the refugee camp. Hamas, on the other hand, has not a strong base in the camp. Twenty years ago in April 2002, the Zionists committed a massacre of the camp in “Operation Defensive Shield”. Now the government is considering a new massacre of Jenin.

Bennett gave security agencies “full freedom” to “defeat terror.” “There are not and will not be limits for this war,” Bennett said. [ix]

Israeli media reported that following the Palestinian terror action, the Israeli settler’s hade a very low sense of security, it could be “at its lowest since Operation Defensive Shield” in 2002. The Zionists are so hysterical that a mentally ill Jewish person was shot and killed because according to the police he tried unsuccessfully to grab a rifle from a soldier.

Hands off the Joint List!

Down with the Zionist apartheid state from the river to the sea!

For a Palestine red and free from the river to the sea!











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