Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The MENA Minorities Knesset candidate ckeck: (1) The Zionist parties

Lets have a look at the possible members of the next Knesset from a MENA Minorities perspective. These are the non-Jewish canidates of the Zionist parties who have realistic chances for a Knesset seat. The candidates of the Joint Arab List will follow soon.


Ayoob Kara 24th slot (realistic chances)  

The only non-Jew on the Likud list who has realistic chances for a seat is former MK and vice minister Ayoob Kara. His term as vice minister (for the delelopment of the Negev and Galilee) from 2009-2013 earned him some criticism for conducting his own "foreign policy" like meeting european far-right politicians (some with an anti-semitic background) and sending his bureau chief to talks with Syrian opposition figures in Bulgeria, which caused an diplomatic incident. Anyhow, he has good chances for a comeback. His appointment to the slot reserved for non-Jews should also be seen as a signal of goodwill to the party-internal far-right opposition around Moshe Feiglin. While the latter didn't make it to the electoral ticket, Kara is widely seen as associated with Feiglin's Jewish leadership faction and close to the settler movement.

Zionist Camp (Labor & Hatnua):

Zuheir Bahloul 17th slot (almost sure)

Bahloul is a well known Sunni-Arab sports commentator on Irseali TV. I doubt his appointment will bring many Arabs to vote for the Zionist camp and he is everything else than an political heavyweight. His choice for the Arab/Druze slot was not very popular among veteran Arab and Druze party members. According to every pollls he is allmost 100% in the next Knesset.

Saleh Saad 26th slot (intact chance)
Saleh Saad, a Druze from the village of Beit Jann, has also ok chances holding the 26th slot-he is on a Labor ticket. If the Zionist Camp wins 23+ seats and enters government he might almost sure enter the Knesset as a successor of a minister. Saad is a local official of the Histadrut, the Zionist trade union, in which he had even served as chair of the Galilee section. Saad's father was one of the early labor-party activists inside the Druze community. 

Yisrael Beinenu:

Hamad Amar 6th slot (small but intact chance)
Normally Druze Hamad Amar would have been considered to as a safe candidat but according to the latest polls Lieberman's party is very near to the four seat threshold. Amar is close to Lieberman and a respected figure inside the party. Of course he is a right-winger but doesn't use a provoking language like Ayoob Kara. Compared to Kara a senior Druze activist once described him to me as "a more action less talk guy". Amar is from the mixed Arab town of Shfaram (Shafa ʻAmr in Arabic). I've alsways seen him as a


Akram Hassun 12th (small but intact chance)
Hassun is the former mayor of Karmel City, a short lived merger of Daliat al-Karmel and Isfiya, and was a also a Knesset member for Kadima. Recently he was briefly the head of the once ruling party (its a novelty that a non-Jew leaded a Zionist party), before he joined the new Kulanu-party of former Likud-minister Moshe Kahlon. If Kalanu enters goverment and has about 10 seats he is in.


Issawi Frej 3rd (good chance)
A Sunni from from the Arab town of Kafr Qasim. He was a member of the previous Knesset and an activist in the Peace Now movement. If social democratic Meretz jumps over the threshold, which is not sure according to the polls, he is safe. We can assume he is not a gimmick to catch Arab votes, since Meretz normally performes not very strong among Arabs.

The other Zionist parties have no Arab candidates on their tickets, even though some like Shas, Yesh Atid and even the far right Jewish Home have potential among certain sectors of the Arab population (e.g. Shas among Beduines, Jewish Home among Druze etc).

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