New pro-Israel Arab party has Jewish support
Bishara Shlayan, an Israeli Christian Arab from Nazareth tells ‘Post’ the Arabs need to “do something for the state.”
The party supports Israel as a Jewish state and national or army service for Arabs. Shlayan said that Arabs need to “do something for the state,” and “there needs to be changes.”
“I want every Jew in the world to have a place – a state to go back to, but I do not want to lose this state and that is why I am for separation – two states,” Shlayan explained. There needs to be an agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis, he added.
It seems that the party is a “start-up” at this point and that if Shalayan is to succeed he will need to recruit skilled new members that will be able to help him transmit his message effectively and run a campaign leading up to the next elections. Shalayan is not an experienced politician, but describes himself as an ordinary working man.
Shalayan goes on to say that his party is not only geared towards Christian Arabs, but is open to all Israelis.
He says the name of the party was changed from Sons of the New Alliance/Covenant (Bnei Brith Hahadasha) to just Sons of the Alliance/covenant (Bnei Brith) in order to get more Jewish support. Talk of a new covenant disturbed some Jewish supporters as the name in Hebrew also means the New Testament.
Shlayan says that Arabs are always acting against the government, but he says opposition to the government should be in the form of democratic protest, not “violence or racist opposition.”
The waving of Palestinian or other Arab state flags worries him; “I want people to raise the Israeli flag.” He says his first project is to change the education curriculum in the Arab sector so that children are taught “to be proud to raise the Israeli flag.” He says he is planning to go to Arab schools soon to start this initiative.
Another issue, which the new party addresses, is the lack of Christian representation in Israel.
Until now, says Shlayan, Arab Christians voted for a gamut of parties ranging from the Arab party Balad to Likud. In the past, they tended to vote for Balad, which has a nationalist ideology and less of an emphasis on Islam compared to other Arab parties in Israel.
Asked about Arab Christian Balad MK Basel Ghattas, he responded that he does not truly represent Christians because he has adopted Balad’s ideas.
Because I am a Christian, I can understand Jews and the fact that I grew up in the Arab world means I can understand them as well, he said adding, “I love everybody and can unite them.”
He said that he has had difficulty publishing in the Israeli Arab media because the other Arab parties have been contacting them and telling them not to publish stories about his party. In addition, he says that Israeli Arab publications expect to be paid for stories that cover political parties and politicians and since he does not have his party up and running yet, it is a hindrance.
Asked if he would enter a coalition despite the fact that Arab parties refuse, he responded that Arab parties were making a mistake by not entering coalitions.