'Nonpartisan' campaign launched to increase Israeli-Arab voter turnout

The campaign includes running conferences for Arab students in colleges; media outreach; and work on a new poll that will identify the messages that would encourage the most turnout.

February 23, 2015 00:28
3 minute read.
A WOMAN walks past campaign posters for the Arab-led Hadash party in Umm al-Fahm

A WOMAN walks past campaign posters for the Arab-led Hadash party in the Israeli-Arab city of Umm al-Fahm. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The Joint List continues to expend great effort on its Hebrew campaign strategy, despite its calculation that most of its votes will come from the Arab sector.

Reut Mor, the Joint List and Hadash Party spokeswoman in Hebrew, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that the mostly Arab candidates in the Joint List had decided from the beginning to reach out and speak in a new way, trying to appeal to all sectors of society.

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Asked what goals the Joint List has for getting Jewish votes, Mor responded that, in the last election, she estimates that Hadash alone attracted fewer than 10,000 Jewish votes. The goal in this election is to at least retain these voters and perhaps even increase their numbers, she said.

At first, some of the traditional Jewish Hadash voters were “alarmed” by the Joint List’s component Arab parties, “but after a while I think they heard the messaging and I feel that the fear has been resolved.”

The Joint List launched its Hebrew-language campaign earlier this month at an event in Tel Aviv, where the leaders of the four parties in the bloc spoke.

The bloc is trying to market itself not as an “Arab” list, as it has been described in the media, but as the Joint List, due to Jewish representation and membership in the Hadash Party. The list says it is fighting for equality, democracy, and peace.

It hopes to become the third largest bloc in the Knesset.

The United Arab List, Ta’al, Hadash and Balad struck a deal last month to run together. The decision to raise the electoral threshold to 3.25 percent of the vote and pressure from the Arab public forced the parties to unite in order to overcome the election threshold.

The idea behind the campaign was to reach out to the entire Jewish community in order to demonstrate the legitimacy of the Arab community and its elected members, something Mor said had taken a hit due to what she described as a summer full of racist incidents targeting the Arab community.

“The Arab community wants to be a part of the Israeli community,” she said, adding that the numerous events planned in the Jewish sector are meant to expose it to the Arab voice directly, something that is not often done.

The Hadash Party website lists upcoming events, which include a town-hall style meeting by Balad chairman Jamal Zahalka in central Tel Aviv on Tuesday and a similar meeting on Monday in Pardes Hanna, a Jewish town near Hadera.

Mor goes points out that, because the Joint List is projected to become the third-largest party in the Knesset, Hadash and the Arab parties in the joint list are getting more media attention than they have in the past.

This is enabling the Joint List to spread its message to a wider audience than it has in the past.

Asked how the Islamist UAL party, headed by MK Masud Gnaim, feels about this campaign, Mor responded that it is supportive, even if it is less enthusiastic than the Hadash faction in the effort.

If Jews could hear Gnaim speak, they would see that he is different than how he has been perceived by them, she added.

Asked what kind of people show up to these Joint List Hebrew events, she said that of course it is mostly those from Zionist Union and Meretz.

There is a new trend within the Israeli Left that is talking about the Joint List, so even if they don’t end up voting for us, at least the message is getting across, said Mor.

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