Joint List sets off election campaign in Yiddish, Russian, Amharic

The anti-Zionist party decided to join forces with minorities within Israel's Jewish population.

A Joint List Yiddish sign, reading "Your vote against forced drafting."  (photo credit: JOINT LIST)
A Joint List Yiddish sign, reading "Your vote against forced drafting."
(photo credit: JOINT LIST)
The Joint List, an anti-Zionist party representing Israel's Arab minority, launched on Sunday a campaign in Yiddish, Russian and Amharic ahead of the March 2 general election.
Consisting of four Arab parties and focusing on Arab minority politics in its previous election campaigns, the list changed its tactic, zooming in on identity politics in an attempt to appeal to the minorities within Israel's Jewish population during the state's third election run-up.
In an attempt to draw votes from haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews, the party set up signs reading "Your vote against forced drafting" in Yiddish. Over the last two elections, haredi enlistment in the IDF was one of the core issues that prevented former defense minister Avigdor Liberman from joining a right-wing coalition.
Hundreds of haredi protesters confronted police last month near Jerusalem's Central Bus Station. After blocking the road following the arrest of an Ethiopian haredi man who refused to enlist, 38 were arrested. The riot caused a massive shutdown of public transit.
The party also set up signs in Amharic, saying it would be the vote of Ethiopian Israelis against police brutality. The campaign was launched on the day the police officer who shot Ethiopian teen Solomon Tekah was set to face trial, with Ethiopian protests expected across the state.
After Tekah's death in July, massive riots erupted in the city of Nesher, where he was shot, as well as Haifa and Tel Aviv. Masses flocked through the streets and clashes later erupted between the protesters and police forces. Police vehicles were damaged and central highways were blocked.
During the protest, Ethiopian Black Panthers activist Avi Yalao said in an interview to Israeli news that "we are in it together," calling for Arab Israelis to join the riots against police.
The party also set up signs in Russian, reading, "The Joint List is your vote for equality and civil rights." Several weeks ago, Russian Israelis were at the spotlight of Israel's "Jewishness" controversy after the High Court of Justice ruled in favor of genetic testing to determine whether one should be recognized as a Jew.
The ruling came after yet another controversy, with Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef alleging that post-Soviet immigrants are "not Jewish at all," saying that during the Russian Aliyah, "hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands of non-Jews came to Israel."
Yisrael Beytenu head Liberman, whose party has acted as the de facto representative of Russian Israelis, has said he would not join an Arab-backed minority government. Since a similar vow of his was broken when he agreed to join a coalition with Meretz, some have speculated that his rejection of the Joint List is not so solid either.
While it is unlikely that the Joint List would join a coalition anytime soon with all sides vowing to exclude the party from a future cabinet, Blue and White head Benny Gantz has not ruled out the possibility of it supporting a minority government from the opposition.