Why Likud voters should support minority candidates
Why Likud voters should support minority candidates

Across the world, the Jewish state is facing a series of great challenges.  Anti-Semitism is on the rise across North America.  The recent anti-BDS legislation that was enacted in some states within the US, which was designed in order to be an important tool in the struggle against anti-Semitism, is being challenged legally by CAIR in Maryland and the ACLU in Texas. 

Jordan’s Foreign Minister, the UN and many others are challenging Israel’s control over the Golan Heights.  And the threats posed by Palestinian terrorism, Hezbollah, the Iranian regime and radical Islam generally speaking show no signs of abating.  As Israel faces all of these important challenges, it is of critical importance that Likud voters support the right candidates in the primaries, which will be held on February 12.    

On all of these important fronts, Israel has no better advocates defending the Jewish states’ right to exist than the Arabic speaking minority candidates who are running in the Likud primaries.  While some may argue that a person's qualifications, skills and experience matter more than the ethnic background of a candidate, I counter that people who make such arguments do not fully grasp what is needed to tackle the challenges that Israel faces. 

The false ahistorical claim that Israel is an illegitimate apartheid state which oppresses the Arabs stands behind all of Israel’s woes, whether we are discussing the BDS Movement, Palestinian terrorism or the struggles Israel faces in the international arena.  

A Jewish Israeli person can try to rationally explain how this narrative is false but when the messenger is a Jewish Israeli, in many cases, what that Jewish Israeli person has to say falls on deaf ears.  However, when a Druze man or an Arab Muslim woman says the same things, it not only is far more likely to resonate but it literally tears apart all of the arguments put forward by Israel’s detractors.  

It is very important for Likud voters to support the minority candidates because they remain our best shot at tearing apart the anti-Israel narrative.
For this reason, I personally am supporting every single minority candidate running in the Likud primaries this election.  So far, in the upcoming Likud primaries, several members of the Druze community are running.  The Druze candidates include Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara, Mendi Safadi, a member of the Druze community who presently heads the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights and Osama Nevoani, whom Al Monitor claims was quite popular among participates at the Likud Conference in Eilat.  In addition, Dema Taya, a young Arab Muslim woman who has been active fighting against the BDS Movement, is also running for a Likud party slot.  In my opinion, it is very important for Likud voters to support these candidates because they remain our best shot at tearing apart the anti-Israel narrative.

The reasons for voting for Israeli Communication Minister Ayoob Kara are self-explanatory.    Kara, a highly dedicated soldier who lost two brothers in the 1982 Lebanon War, has been politically active for years.  He was elected to serve in the Knesset for the first time in 1999.  Upon being elected the third Druze Likud MK in Israel’s history, he was appointed Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and served as a chairman of the Foreign Workers Committee.  Following the 2003 elections, he became the chairman of the Anti-Drug Committee.  In 2009, after briefly leaving the Knesset, Kara was elected back into office under the platform of unifying the Druze and Jewish people.  From 2009 to 2013, Kara served as Israel’s Deputy Minister for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee.  During this period of time, Kara did much good for Israel.  He led a group of Druze, Bedouins, and Muslims that supported Gilad Shalit’s release from Hamas captivity.   He worked to improve Israel’s relations with Syria, Lebanon, South Sudan and Turkey.

From 2015-2017, Kara served as Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation, where he played an instrumental role in the release of Ouda Tarabin, an Israeli Bedouin who was accused of espionage in Egypt.   During this period of time, he also worked with Europe to help them cope with the refugee crisis there and advanced Israel’s ties with the Syrian Opposition, which can one day assist the possibility for peace between the two countries.  Kara has done much to aid Israel’s humanitarian efforts for Syrian refugees and also has been greatly helping the international struggle against ISIS. 

And in May 2017, he was appointed to be Communications Minister, the first Druze person to ever hold that position.  There are not many other Arabic speaking leaders in Israel that possess this kind of political experience.  His voice in the Israeli Cabinet has truly been an asset for Israel’s international diplomatic efforts.

And now, Mendi Safadi, a Druze leader from Majdal Al Shams in the Golan Heights, is running in the Likud primaries.   If elected in the primaries, he will be the first Druze person from the Golan Heights to run as a Likud MK.  Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights will be significantly strengthened should a Druze person native to the Golan Heights become a Likud MK in the Knesset for it reinforces the idea that the Golan Heights is an integral part of the State of Israel. 

Although Safadi would be new to the Knesset, he has extensive political experience that makes him qualified for the position.  He formerly served as Ayoob Kara’s Chief of Staff when he was Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation.  In addition, he founded the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights, where he works to enhance Israel’s public image in the greater Islamic world.  

Since the Syrian Civil War began, Safadi has been working to assist the Syrian people in their struggle against the Assad regime.  He is well-connected in the Syrian Opposition and has arranged for Syrian dissidents to visit Israel.   He also arranged for Syrians to receive medical care in Israel, assisted in organizing a cease-fire between the Druze community and the Free Syrian Army, and helped organize the transfer of Israeli humanitarian assistance to the Druze community in Swaida, Syria.  All of these actions helped Safadi to build up significant connections with the Syrian Opposition, which led to Jews being successfully smuggled out of Syria. 

Aside from dealing with Syria, Safadi has been active in promoting an independent Kurdistan in the international arena.   Due to Israel’s role in promoting an independent Kurdistan, Israeli flags have been woven not only in Erbil but also at Kurdish rallies in the US, Germany and Holland.  Safadi is a close friend of Dilshad Barzani, the KRG Representative in Germany.  But Safadi’s activism is not limited to Syria and Kurdistan.  He has also been fighting to promote democracy, human rights and minority rights in Bangladesh. Due to his international public diplomacy work, he travels frequently to India, Azerbaijan, Europe and the US. 

On top of that, Safadi also has done much work to fight against the BDS Movement and believes that the fact that he is a member of the Druze community in the Golan Heights can be a powerful weapon to fight against the delegitimization of Israel in the international arena.   For this reason, he is running in the Likud primaries.  

Another Arabic speaker who is running in the Likud primaries is Dema Taya, a Muslim woman who traveled to the United States on a special campus tour in order to fight against the BDS Movement.  Although she does not have much experience, she is a young and passionate Zionist and feminist, who is a naturally gifted public speaker, as demonstrated in the Arabic language TV interviews that she gave defending the State of Israel.  In our era, oratory skills are just as critical as experience for the success of Israel’s hasbara efforts and having a courageous young female Muslim voice speak out defending the Likud could help win over Millennial hearts in the US and around the globe.  Due to her charisma, her activism and her Arabic language skills, Taya would be a major asset for Israel’s public diplomacy if she wins the Likud primaries. 

In conclusion, if Israel wants its hasbara efforts to be successful, such efforts should include Zionist activists who are also part of Israel’s minority communities, for they can get away with saying things that Netanyahu cannot.   They have the ability to influence how the non-Jewish world views Israel in a manner that no Jewish person can.  And if they do so as Members of Israel's Knesset, their influence would mushroom.