Arab voters being ignored, parties say

Hadash MK requests Arab parties be included in projection polls, parties demand informational advertising in Arabic.

November 30, 2012 03:52
2 minute read.
Israeli-Arab man casts his vote [file photo]

Israeli-Arab man casts his vote elections voting 370 (R). (photo credit: Ammar Awad / Reuters)


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Media and polling organizations are neglecting the Arab sector ahead of January’s elections by not including the Arab parties in their polls, according to Hadash, an Arab-Jewish party with Communist roots.

MK Dov Henin sent a letter of complaint to Elyakim Rubinstein, a Supreme Court judge and chairman of the Central Elections Committee, asking that he work to make it mandatory to include Arab parties in the political projections and polls taking place ahead of the elections.

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In a letter to Rubinstein, Henin asked for the commission “to issue a renewed advisory that would tell pollsters and media outlets to report [on the Arab sector] according to the principles of equality as is standard in a democracy.”

Meanwhile, advertisements have already been published informing the public how to vote. For example, if a person’s current address is not the same as that listed with the Interior Ministry and on his identity card, he may not be able to vote where he lives.

But these ads do not appear to have gone out in Arabic.

“This is an issue that we face in every election,” says Yousef T. Jabareen, the founding director of Dirasat, the Arab Center for Law and Policy, based in Nazareth.

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“The election committee is not respecting Arabic as an official language of the state, though it is by law, which means that all its activities should also be in Arabic and it should target the Arab community,” he says. “It’s a need and also a right to have the official language used by the authorities during elections.

I hope that the election committee will use Arabic in all media campaigns.

This is a crucial part of full political participation, and they should adhere to the principle that everything should be in the two languages.”

At a roundtable conference earlier this week at the Israel Democracy Institute, held in conjunction with the Abraham Fund Initiatives, MK Ahmed Tibi, head of the Ra’am-Ta’al list, said advertisements aimed at raising public awareness about elections have ignored the Arab sector. Further, he suggested it may be a deliberate approach and not just a matter of “forgetting” the 20 percent of Israelis who are Arab.

“Recently there has been a government advertising campaign to encourage voting, but it is focused on the Jewish public, and it begs the question what stands behind the forgotten room of the Arab voter? Is there someone, perhaps in Likud-Beytenu, who is not interested in raising the rate of participation of Arab voters?”

Rubinstein on Thursday followed up on Henin’s request with a formal letter to editors of media outlets, requesting that they include Arab parties in all surveys.

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