Asma Aghbarieh-Zahalka. Note that name. She’s the chef de file of Israel’s presently tiny but up-and-coming new left formation, the Da’am Workers Party. I hadn’t heard Asma A-Z or Da’am until a couple of weeks ago but thanks to Israeli academician Avner Cohen‘s publicity campaign on FB, I know about them now. Da’am, though resolutely leftist, has no filiation with Israel’s old Moscow-line communist party (today, Hadash), nor does not it seem afflicted with neo-Trotskyism. And it is explicitly a mixed Jewish and Arab party, eschewing both anti-Zionist and Palestinian nationalist rhetoric (differentiating it from Balad and other Israeli Arab parties). Its discourse centers on socio-economic issues à la Occupy Wall Street and on bringing both Israeli Jews and Arab/Palestinian citizens of Israel together on this basis (as Israel’s 99%). The party naturally opposes the occupation and advocates a Palestinian state within the ’67 borders and with E.J’lem as the capital, but I have seen no mention of the ‘right of return’ in its online literature (even though much of Asma A-Z’s family are descendants of ’48 refugees in Gaza; she’s from Jaffa herself). Good. No possibility of attracting Jews otherwise. And Da’am is supportive of the Arab uprisings, denounces the Ba’athist regime in Syria, and is critical of both Hamas and corruption in the PA. Da’am’s English website is here and the English version of its press organ, Challenge, is here.
As for Asma A-Z, I think she’s great! See this portrait of her by Avner Cohen in Haaretz last week, this one today by AP, and this in the webzine +972. A YouTube interview with her in English may be seen here and a series of campaign videos subtitled in English here. A video in Arabic and Hebrew is here. Asma has been interviewed on television during the campaign (e.g. here, here, and here) and though I don’t understand a word of what she’s saying, she looks and sounds impressive. Here’s hoping Da’am breaks the 2% threshold next Tuesday and that Asma is elected to the Knesset. If I were Israeli I would vote for her no doubt about it!
UPDATE: Da’am didn’t cross the threshold, needless to say, so Asma A-Z won’t be going to the Knesset. Next time, inshallah. (January 23)