Israeli Arabs engaging in electoral campaign

merger of Hadash and Ta'al shows growing electoral maturity

Ahmad Tibi and Ayman Odeh (Joint List), June 29

Shlomi Eldar writes in Al Monitor, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu keeps warning his voters against their fellow Arab voters. In 2015, his famous call on Election Day warning that the Arabs were flocking “in droves’’ to the polls was successful in getting out the right-wing vote to support him and head off the Arabs.”

“On Feb. 21, Israel Resilience leader Lt. Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, with the participation of two other former military chiefs of staff, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi, announced the formation of the new political platform Blue and White. In light of this event and the threat it represents to his continued rule, Netanyahu has reverted to frightening his constituents with the “Arab devil.””

“In a scaremongering speech Feb. 21, immediately following the festive unveiling of the Blue and White alliance, Netanyahu warned that its intention was to wrest power from the right with the help of the Arab minority. Lapid and Gantz “rely on Arab parties who not only don’t recognize the State of Israel, but want to destroy it,” Netanyahu said in a televised speech. Whereas Netanyahu in 2015 warned voters that his Likud party’s hold on power was under threat, he has now taken the scare tactics up a notch to warn that the entire state! is under threat. Why? Because the Arab parties, that is, Arab voters, aspire to destroy it.”

Heads of the four parties comprising the Joint List (from left to right) Ayman Odeh of Hadash, Masud Ganaim of Ra’am, Jamal Zahalka of Balad and Ahmad Tibi of Ta’al, Tel Aviv, 2015. (Activestills)

“Netanyahu is reading the new political map correctly. He analyzes the polls not only according to the number of Knesset seats each party is forecast to get, but also according to his future options for forming a government coalition after the elections.” Polls conducted Feb. 21 give Blue and White a distinct lead of 35 or 36 seats, at least four more than Netanyahu’s party. Some polls put the gap between the two parties at six seats.”

“These elections will be determined according to the size of each bloc — left and right — as has been the case in all previous Israeli elections. The right-wing bloc (comprised of the Likud and small rightist parties) could garner 48 seats, just like the center-left (the Blue and White, Labor and Meretz parties). The ultra-Orthodox parties (Shas and Yahadut HaTorah) are forecast to get 12 seats, equal to the number predicted for the Arab parties. Thus, those who will tip the scale in favor of center-left or right and decide who will form Israel’s next government are the ultra-Orthodox and the Arabs. That is why Netanyahu did not wait for Election Day and for the polls to open and rushed to launch his scare attack.” (more…)


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