The Arab League call for Israeli Arabs to get out and vote must have had an
effect. From the vibe and activity on the street, it appeared that voter turnout
would be higher than expected, even though assessments throughout the day
The Arab parties all made great efforts to bring out
the Israeli Arab vote, spreading the message that a no-vote was a vote for a
right-wing government. Balad MK Haneen Zoabi sent an SMS to her supporters on
Election Day, telling them that her party did not accept “living as foreigners
or in fear in their homeland.”
People on the street who spoke with The
Jerusalem Post seemed to feel there was high motivation to vote. Ahmed Tibi’s
and Ibrahim Sarsour’s United Arab List-Ta’al party seemed to have the most
support, with Balad registering support as well.
Tira resident Muhammad
Samara said Arabs needed to go out and vote for one of the Arab parties. He said
the strongest party in Tira was UAL-Ta’al because of Tibi’s popularity there,
adding that people supported Tibi because of his personality, not because of his
Balad was also strong and Hadash had supporters as well, Samara
said, but few voted for Meretz.
At around 4:30 p.m., he predicted that
around 40 percent of the town had voted and that in the evening the number would
grow significantly, as that was the most popular time to vote. He predicted
turnout could go as high as 80%.
He added, though, that “some people do
not vote because they feel the government does not represent them and they do
not like the government.” Mahmoud Issa, a shop owner in Kfar Kasim, predicted
turnout around 70% in his town.
“People want to vote, to make changes,
but there is no hope,” he said.
He thought Meretz was probably the
strongest party in town, followed by UALTa’al, then Balad, which he believed was
not so active there.
Nonetheless, Issa said a right-wing government would
at least provoke the world into intervening and lead to isolation and an
international boycott of the country.
“Why not Bayit Yehudi?” he
“With them there will be a solution; war will
decide things. When they start fighting against Arabs and throwing them out of
their houses, then the world will force peace on Israel.”
pessimistically he added, “There will never be Arab strength here. There will
never be a Palestinian state.”
It wasn’t the Arabs who would bring about
a solution, he said, but the international community.
Issa called Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “a liar” who “doesn’t really believe in a two-state
solution. Right after his Bar-Ilan speech, he went and whispered to Liberman
that he didn’t mean it.
The same day he goes and builds more settlements
on occupied territories.”
In the middle of that conversation, a haredi
(ultra- Orthodox) Jew from Bnei- Barak called and jokingly said he was voting
Issa said he worked with many Jews and that “they want
everything for themselves and nothing for others.”
“We are an inseparable
part of Israel,” he said. “This is the place we have been since before Israel
was created, and we are hurt by how our brothers are treated in the territories.
They live in a jail without air and food, like in Gaza.”
He added that
“if [assassinated prime minister Yitzhak] Rabin had another two years, there
would have been peace.”
Still, Issa said he would agree to a one-state
solution: “In 10 years, there would be a majority of Arabs, and Jews would begin
The word on the street was that the town of Jaljulya was
similar in voter trends and also tended to vote for Tibi.
Camel, a Hebrew teacher and director of an after-school program, had a different
take on things. While he also predicted a high voter turnout, he said UAL-Ta’al
would perform best because it included Sarsour, who is from Kafr Kasim. He said
Balad was also strong and more active than others.
He said the reason
people were voting for Meretz in the town was the party’s Arab candidate Issawi
Freij, who comes from there.
The candidates’ families and clans could
also be expected to support them.
In Umm el-Fahm, he continued, Hadash
had a strong presence because one of its candidates was from
Balad’s Jamal Zahalka, also from the town, had strong backing
there as well.
According to Camel, Jaljulya is a strong supporter of
Sarsour, but Balad also has a presence there. He said Tira was the same,
supporting Sarsour and Tibi, with strong backing for Balad.
He added that
those who didn’t vote “feel that their vote won’t change anything.”
predicted that the Right would win and form a coalition, saying, “There is no
Left in Israel, only Right. There is only a difference in the way they
Surprisingly Camel said, “I don’t care about the
I want my rights as an Israeli citizen and to be treated
Echoing Balad’s platform, he said he wanted a “democratic
state,” separated from religion.