Even before his 100 days of grace come to an end, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has made it into Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of 2021. Bennett is not the first Israeli premier to make the list, nor the last. What makes this achievement special is the man who wrote the magazine’s tribute to the Israeli leader, Islamist Knesset member Mansour Abbas, whose Ra’am party is the first Arab party to ever participate actively in an Israeli government.
Even if this remains the only achievement of the government that Bennett formed against all odds, it is still a stunning historic event. An Arab-Israeli party has never joined a government coalition in all of Israel’s 73 years. The 21% Arab minority enjoys equal rights de jure, but had been excluded from the center of the political map until three months ago. The exclusion was mutual — Arab political parties were not only boycotted, they also boycotted the predominantly Jewish ones. This is no longer the case.