Moslem Fundamentalists Emerge As a Force in Israeli Politics
Menu JTA Search

Moslem Fundamentalists Emerge As a Force in Israeli Politics

Download PDF for this date

The new Arab Democratic Party, the first virtually all-Moslem list, will be on the ballot in next Tuesday’s Knesset elections.

It is part of a phenomenon that has emerged for the first time in an Israeli election campaign — the intervention of Moslem fundamentalists.

In past election campaigns, Moslem fundamentalists stood aloof, and the parties that courted Arab voters avoided any religious coloration.

Now, however, leaders of the Islamic movement are urging Arabs to vote. They favor no particular party, but clearly point to the “forces of peace.”

In the Arab political lexicon, that excludes the parties of the right.

Israeli Arab voters, in theory, account for at least 14 of the 120 Knesset mandates. In the current campaign, they are being wooed by the established parties of the left.

The parties courting them range from Labor, which represents a moderate, Western European-style socialism, to the Moscow-oriented Hadash Communist Party. Somewhere in between is Mapam, the leftist United Workers Party.

It is paradoxical that the anti-religious Communists and the non-religious Mapam are trying to appeal to this nation’s most devout Moslems.

A recent Mapam election ad criticizing Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin for his harsh policies in the administered territories, asked him, “Aren’t you afraid of Allah?”


But the most likely beneficiary of the fundamentalist involvement is Knesset member Abdel Wahab Darousha. He quit the Labor Party earlier this year in protest against Rabin’s measures to suppress the Palestinian uprising.

Darousha, 45, set up his own Arab Democratic Party, which is the first and only all-Arab political party in Israel. The first eight candidates on its election slate are Moslems. The ninth is a Christian Arab and the 10th a Druze.

That makeup gives Darousha an advantage over the two other pro-Palestinian state parties: the Communists and the Progressive List for Peace, whose slates include both Jews and Arabs.

Darousha is likely to be re-elected to the Knesset. The polls give his party one or two Knesset seats.

But the Communists are still expected to draw the largest Arab vote, as they have done in the past, which would give them 5 to 6 seats, according to the polls.

The Labor Party is expected to get two from the Arab vote; Mapam and the Citizens Rights Movement are expected to win two or three.

The rest will be split among other Zionist parties, including even the Likud and the National Religious Party.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund