Friday, January 11, 2013

For Arab boycott of Israeli elections

"ON THE face of things, it looks like an exercise in futility. At every Israeli general election hundreds of thousands of Arabs cast votes for parties that do little to improve their lot. The socio-economic gap between Jews and Arabs, who make up one in five Israelis, is widening, and Arab political parties have signally failed to defeat a raft of laws detrimental to them that Binyamin Netanyahu’s government has passed in the outgoing parliament. “The more visible we are, the more they discriminate against us,” says a voter in Nazareth, Israel’s largest Arab-populated town.
Many Arab Israelis no longer bother to vote. Turnout has fallen from 75% in 1999 to 53% in the last election; this time it could fall below half, says Asad Ghanem of Haifa University, who recently oversaw a survey of Arabs’ voting intentions. There are at present 17 Arabs in Israel’s 120-seat parliament; at least six are Druze, including a member of Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party.  Some Islamists and a few Arab intellectuals have campaigned for a boycott, arguing against doing anything to legitimise what they decry as a democracy for Jews only. But despair is the main reason for abstention. No Israeli government has ever included an Arab party in its coalition..."