“The third most important issue is the disloyalty of Israeli Arabs. And here we’ve had a longtime neglect on the part of Israeli governments on the right and on the left, which have been ignoring the extremist expressions of Israeli Arabs.”
A couple of days before our interview, only a few blocks from his office building, an Arab from the Israeli village of Taiba hid a bomb onboard a bus that blew up, injuring many.
“This was a quick response to the Israeli weakness in operation Pillar of Defense,” Eldad argues. “They understood that Israel is making threats but not acting on them. Israel says it would put boots on the ground, enlists 70 thousand reservists, but does not take a decisive step against Hamas. Weakness in the Middle east is like an injured swimmer bleeding out in a sea full of sharks. That shark that blew up the bus arrived there because he smelled the blood in the water, he identified the weakness. In the Middle East, to show weakness is to invite an Intifada, invite attacks, invite terror.”
So, does he want Israeli Arabs to sing Hatikva and swear allegiance to the Jewish state?
“Why not? It’s a minimal expectation of every citizen. And if they don’t like it, let them move to a state with a nicer flag, and let them sing ‘Biladi Biladi’ there until tomorrow (Bilady, Bilady, Bilady, ‘My homeland, my homeland, my homeland,’ is the Palestinian national anthem.).”
Israel was rocked for one news cycle last year, when Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran stood up for the national anthem but did not sing the words. MK Michael Ben-Ari proposed a bill that would require sitting Supreme Court judges to have previously served in the IDF (Joubran, being Arab, was exempt from IDF service), but the bill was rejected.
“We will initiate legislation in the next Knesset, establishing the principle that without duties there are no rights”, Eldad promises. “If a person does not fulfill his duty to be loyal to his country, he will not be entitled to rights.
“We came up with a campaign that picked a few basic words which we suggested it was appropriate for Israeli Arabs to be familiar with, so we wrote them down in Arabic. We talked about loyalty, taxes, permitted highway speeds, traffic laws – things which, sadly, are not accepted by many Arabs as compulsory for every citizen.
“There are 60 thousand illegal structures belonging to Arabs in the Negev, Galilee and Jerusalem. The state of Israel systematically ignores them. The state ignores its own laws. So citizens see there’s no law enforcement, they figure it’s OK to break the law.”
What about the fact that many of the things Power for Israel proposes will inevitably bring on the hostility of Europe and the U.S. How can they shield Israel’s economy from those repercussions?
“It’s impossible to be completely independent in a global economy,” says Eldad. “But anyone who threatens that Israel won’t be able to sell goods, mostly wants to scare us and isn’t presenting true data. Let me give you an example: Israel’s relationship with Turkey is at an unprecedented low. Yet our trade with Turkey stands at $4 billion annually. Meaning, people buy where it pays. They don’t buy from us chips or fruits or knowledge because we’re Jews or because we’re nice to the Arabs.
“There’s a boycott on Israeli goods which affects the fringes. They boycott the settlements, they boycott because we’re Jewish, they boycott because they’re anti-Semites, they boycott because we’re bombing in Gaza, but in the end, they trade with Israel because it pays to buy from us and sell to us.
“If Turkey, whose leadership hates us bitterly, and wants to see us on our knees, has a flourishing trade with us, that should teach us that we shouldn’t let anyone frighten us with such threats. It is conceivable that some day Israel will be in a catastrophic economic situation – but it won’t be because of its foreign policy.”
I ask him about a list of topics that one expects to find on any party platform. Eldad is not fazed.
“Our platform includes ten skeletal points,” he says. “My experience of the last three election campaigns has been that no one really reads those party platforms. We could, of course, present ourselves as potential prime ministers, and state our position on Chemicals for Israel which is digging up the Dead Sea and should, in my opinion, pay higher residuals to the state. And I could add my participation in the committee that dealt with residuals from Israel’s natural gas deposits.