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Ten measures of holy rage have descended on Meretz, nine of which are now directed at verbal abuse against MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, who has overnight become the biggest problem for remnants of the Israeli left.

If only a pinch of that activism were sometimes applied to the bigger issues threatening the liberal-democratic agenda the party claims to represent — like forging a more meaningful and equal partnership between Jews and Arabs — and not just civil society issues. .

The president of Meretz, the Minister of Health, Nitzan Horowitz, feels too well the pitchfork stabbing his back. His party’s ‘everyone but Bibi’ camp aggressively branded Rinawie Zoabi guilty of the disintegration of the ‘change government’ (as if Amichai Chikli, Idit Silman, Nir Orbach and the Joint List didn’t exist) – and it was Horowitz, after all, who recruited her and guaranteed her a place on the list before the last election. So he does what a lot of politicians do: he deflects the fire away from him, towards her, with all his might.

In an interview with Army Radio on Thursday, after she voted with the Joint List against the cannabis bill, he seemed more upset than he did on any other issue. , including the ratification of apartheid in the West Bank.

“It’s disgusting and dishonest,” he said. “It’s an act that really crosses all red lines, a despicable act.” He went on to suggest that Rinawie Zoabi was crazy: “There is a deeper issue here. I will not start with psychological analyses. … She got lost. And for the grand finale: “We have no connection with this woman. … This woman is not part of us and we are not part of her.

The frustration of many Meretz voters is understandable — for them, keeping former prime minister and current opposition chairman Benjamin Netanyahu out of government is more important than left-wing principles, than Rinawie Zoabi’s deviation from discipline of party and coalition and its zigzags and loose stance on LGBTQ issues.

But Horowitz’s extreme aggression toward her now (“that woman”) just because she voted her conscience, and in doing so also represented a large part of the Arab community, highlights an unpleasant truth: Meretz, certainly under Horowitz’s leadership, was and will be essentially a Jewish party, incapable of real partnership between Jews and Arabs.

Indeed, such a partnership also requires mutual knowledge, respectful dialogue and negotiation, as well as painful compromises among party members in the Knesset – and not just to decorate the party list with Arab candidates as long as they don’t think outside the box. .

Many people now blame Meretz’s identity politics of reserving a place specifically for an Arab woman. And so Horowitz’s take on the case is to stop diversity efforts (“let them take whoever they elect and don’t come around complaining that there are no Arabs,” he said. he threatened behind closed doors after having himself been parachuted into a previously reserved slot.

This is a completely erroneous conclusion. Meretz’s problem isn’t identity politics, it’s symbolism.

The fact that the President of Meretz “rounded up” Rinawie Zoabi without knowing her well, and is now aggressively renouncing her, says more about him and Meretz than it does about her.

Horowitz doesn’t have to go home for booking a place for an Arab woman. Among other things, he has to concede the leadership of the party, because he didn’t bother to take an interest in her from the start, and now he disowns her as quickly as he enlisted her. He does not have what it takes to build a real partnership between Jews and Arabs in the party.

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