In lip service, Mansour Abbas presents himself as a moderate man. But he's a wolf in sheep's skin. RA'AM is an affiliate of the Islamic Movement which is an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood - like Hamas. RAAM conducts civilian jihad whose purpose is to dismantle the State of Israel from within.
We need to understand what Ra’am is. We need look at the meeting in the backdrop of recent revelations about Ra’am’s relations with Hamas.
Unlike Likud or Yamina or the Joint Arab List, Ra’am isn’t a free-standing party. It is a node of the Islamic movement, which itself is a node of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Islamic movement is more like a web than a tree. Its nodes aren’t linear. Abbas’s primary position is deputy chairman of the Islamic Movement. His chairmanship of Ra’am is an outgrowth of his position in the Islamic Movement. Other nodes in the movement are its non-profit groups. Two in particular stand out – Igatha 48 Association, and the Al Aqsa Association. Virtually all of the past and current leaders of the two organizations also have senior positions in the Islamic Movement and Ra’am.
Two weeks ago, Channel 13’s top reporter Ayala Hasson broadcast an investigative report on Ra’am compiled by two Israeli NGOs – Choosing Life, a non-profit group founded by parents whose children were killed by Palestinian terrorists; and Ad Kan, an investigative group that specializes in exposing subversive left-wing organizations and terror finance operations.
Hasson’s report focused on Igatha 48 Association. The group is run by its CEO Ghazi Issa and its Director General Ali Katanani. Issa ran in the last Knesset elections as number 15 on Ra’am’s Knesset slate and serves as chairman of Ra’am’s party council. Katanani ran in the 29ths spot on Ra’am’s Knesset slate for the last election.
Igatha 48 is a charity. It operates in Israel, Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Turkey, Sudan, Syria and Lebanon. As the Ad Kan/Choosing Life report revealed, over the past decade, Igatha 48 has raised NIS 224.5 million. According to its website, the funds go to “orphans, widows, prisoners and their families, and the poor in general.”
From the group’s website it is clear the “prisoners and their families” in question, are jihadist terrorists.
In 2019, Igatha 48 opened an office in Gaza. Issa and Khatanani attended the opening ceremony along with Hamas Politburo member Ghazi Hamed. Hamed also serves as Deputy Director of Hamas’s Ministry of Social Development. At that event and on subsequent occasions, Hamed thanked Igatha 48 and the Islamic Movement for their assistance.
While wearing his hat as a Ra’am senior official, in early June, Issa joined Abbas in the coalition talks with Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid that led to Ra’am joining the governing coalition. Issa is pictured in the official photograph of the negotiating session standing behind Abbas as Abbas, Lapid and Bennett shook hands after they finalized the terms of the coalition deal. The deal with Ra’am gave Lapid and Bennett the 61-seat bare majority they needed to form the current government. So, the man who won high praise from Hamas for transferring millions of shekels to Hamas-controlled Gaza to feed “prisoners and their families,” is also is the kingmaker of Israeli politics.
In a follow-on report last week on Channel 13, Hasson reported that a few years ago, Abbas met with Israeli attorney Ephraim Damri and asked that he represent the Hamas terrorists who massacred Ruth and Ehud Fogel and three of their small children in their beds in 2010. Abbas and his Ra’am colleagues have travelled to Ramallah to meet with Hamas terrorists.
These reports, which document Ra’am’s manifold ties with Hamas aired just as the Knesset passed the state budget last week. The coalition deal Lapid and Bennett signed with Abbas and Issa stipulated that the allotment of all budgetary funds to Israel’s Arab communities will be done in coordination with the Ra’am-controlled Committee for the Affairs of Arab Society. This means that to all intents and purposes, Abbas and his fellow Hamas supporters in Ra’am now control the funding of Israel’s entire Arab minority.
The new budget includes a five-year NIS 30 billion development plan for the Arab community. As Amit Barak, a veteran activist involved in integrating Israeli Arabs into mainstream Israeli society revealed this week, unlike its predecessor, the plan has not been made public.
In a conversation with this writer, Barak said that the new situation is liable to have a profoundly adverse effect on Arab integration. Rather than the government incentivizing Arab citizens and minorities communities – like the Druse and the Circassians, whose sons are included in Israel’s compulsory military service law – to embrace their Israeli identity and integrate fully into Israeli society, it will incentivize irredentism. As Barak put it, “The superpower that Ra’am has become in the Arab sector endangers the Arabs who are fully integrated, or are considering integrating fully into Israeli society.”
And indeed, Wednesday, the Druse Daliyat el-Carmel Local Council head Rafik Halaby encouraged Druse to stop serving in the IDF and praised Ra’am and the Islamic Movement.
In his words, “I congratulate Mansour Abbas…for the efforts of the Arab representatives in the coalition, in contrast to the weakness of the heads of the Druse community. They [the Druse] thought that the covenant of blood and the military service would improve the situation in the Druse Arab society. Enough with the covenant of blood and nonsense!”
Abbas won high praise from the media during May’s Operation Guardian of the Walls when he visited a firebombed synagogue in Lod. But like so many of the things that Abbas does and says, that visit was deceptive.
In Israel, the so-called “Arab Spring,” caused thousands of Israeli Arabs to revisit their longstanding hostility towards Israel. Many came to view their Israeli citizenship as their most precious possession – the one thing protecting them from the terror and genocide in places like Syria. Thousands of Israeli Arab families began sending their children to Jewish Hebrew language schools. According to a 2013 University of Haifa survey, ninety percent of Israeli Arab youth supported serving in National Service. For the first time in Israel’s history, Arab Israelis – particularly Christians – began volunteering to serve in the IDF.
Halabi’s statement drives home that this trend is being rapidly reversed. As the recent exposes of Ra’am all show, Ra’am’s outreach is no domestic Israeli version of the Abraham Accords. It’s a wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing stunt. Like Hamas, Ra’am – and the Islamic Movement as a whole –is a Muslim Brotherhood organization. Whereas Hamas carries out a violent jihad against Israel, Abbas told an Arabic-language media outlet that he is leading a “civil jihad” against Israel.
Abbas and his colleagues don’t want Arab Israelis to embrace their Israeli identity. They intend to use their membership in the coalition to gain control over the Israeli Arab sector and transform it into a large, unified, irredentist front dedicated to dismantling Israel’s Jewish identity.
Days before he abandoned the Likud-led right-wing bloc and formed the current government with Lapid and Abbas, Bennett admitted to me that he didn’t know what to make of Abbas’s willingness to join the governing coalition. But as he put it then, “It’s worth looking into the option” of working with Ra’am.
Today, the results are in. Ra’am’s nature and intentions are totally exposed. Bennett and his colleagues must draw the appropriate conclusions before it is too late.