As Usual, the Missing Piece

A boycott of elections.

No, I am not talking about these past 2012 U.S. elections in which many Americans refrained from voting due to the lack of an ideal candidate for their needs. I am talking about the upcoming Israeli elections this January. And how apparently many of Israel’s Arabic citizens are taking a stand by refusing to vote.

As NPR reported, “Palestinian leaders in Israel say it [the drop in Israeli Arab voters] is because each year the government becomes more right-wing and they feel more ostracized.” But that’s what you’d expect such leaders to say, as they are the likes of Mahmoud Abbas and others of the Palestinian Authority. Of course, they’d continue to claim that the Israeli Arabs just don’t feel like they have much of a say. They’d compare them to the Republicans of New York: their vote simply just doesn’t count, so why bother.

However, the mainstream media would neglect, and has, to mention that many Israeli Arab citizens do not follow the Palestinian leadership. Rather, they enjoy being under Israeli authority, because they feel they are granted more rights that way. They do not believe in the Palestinian Authority or Hamas’ agenda. They believe in something different, and some even embrace their minority status, as long as they feel they are granted full rights. As Ishmael Khaldi, an Israeli citizen and a Muslim Bedouin, stated, “it was through the Bedouins’ alliance with the emerging Jewish state that they began to transcend the isolation that was part of their nomadic history. Israel’s right to exist is my right and my people’s right.”

Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim journalist who has served as the eyes of international journalism in the West Bank and Gaza, also had comments on this apparent boycott. Being an Israeli Arab himself, he referenced Abbas’ threat to disband the PA if Netanyahu was reelected as empty. In his article for the Gatestone Institute he wrote, “the threat [by Abbas] to disband the Palestinian Authority should be seen as yet another attempt to influence Israeli voters. Abbas is trying to scare Israeli voters by warning them that the re-election of Netanyahu would be a disaster for the “peace process” and would result in anarchy and chaos in the West Bank after the Palestinian Authority is dismantled.”

In addition to all this, the mainstream media has neglected to mention that MK Zoabi, who is well known to spew anti-Israel rhetoric and has even been caught collaborating with those who formed the infamous flotilla of 2010, the Mavi Marmara, is being allowed by the Israeli High Court to run for her current Knesset position yet again in this election. Yes, many Israeli politicians had tried to stop her, accusing her of treason. But they failed. So, she has been enabled to be a part of the Israeli government, ensuring that the Palestinians’ opinions will be heard in any Israeli policy.

Yet, there is still apparently going to be a boycott of the Israeli elections by its Arab citizens. Not due to Israel’s fault, however. Israel is enabling their voices to be heard. But if the new government will be full of those who do not align with the Israeli-Arab cause, at this point all the blame will be their own.

About the Author
Melanie Goldberg is a current student at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. She also serves as the research assistant for Versa: The Israeli Supreme Court English Language Repository, and founded a chapter of The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights on her campus. Most recently, she was one of the recipients of The Jewish Week's "36 under 36" award.