Jewish separatism proves a vote-winner in Karmiel

The joint Arab-Jewish list Karmiel L'kulanu, established following the creation of Habayit Sheli, earned fewer than 400 votes in the city.

acre road 298 88 (photo credit: Old Acre Development Company)
acre road 298 88
(photo credit: Old Acre Development Company)
In the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Karmiel, a new list advocating the preservation of the city's Jewish character won three out of 17 seats on the city council, while a new joint Jewish-Arab list garnered none. The independent list entitled Habayit Sheli (It's My House) used slogans during the municipal election campaign such as "My house is not for sale" - a reference to the minority Arab-Israeli population in the country. "The residents of Karmiel are very intelligent and understand that we need to give a chance to a new generation, to the young people, to work toward preserving the Jewish, Zionist nature [of the city] and to bring young couples to the city to make it vibrant," said Oren Milstein, a founder of the list. "We don't have anything against anyone. We are just in favor of our character." Rina Greenberg, who was reelected to the council on the independent list Karmiel is Our Home, had similar ideas about keeping Karmiel a Jewish city. Nearly 45 years ago, "there was a decision to create a Jewish city in the Galilee, and it was a decision of the state of Israel," she said. "There are lots of Druse villages and Muslim villages and Christian villages… We are a small community, and we want to preserve our traditions… Just as Arab boys marry Arab girls, we want our boys to marry our girls." The joint Arab-Jewish list Karmiel L'kulanu (Karmiel for All of Us), which was established following the creation of Habayit Sheli, earned fewer than 400 votes in the city. Attorney Rabeya Jahshan, who headed the list, said that only about 500 Arabs were registered as residents of the city, though he estimated that a much higher number lived there but were registered in surrounding areas. Jahshan said he and the others on the list would work diligently in the next five years to earn seats on the council. "We, as Arabs and Jews, don't have any choice but to try to live together respectfully… Extremism will hurt all of us, the Jews and the Arabs," he said. "Let us learn from the experience that we had in Acre" with the Arab-Jewish riots that erupted there in October. "Extremism will lead to fire, and we don't want that." Jahshan said that the Habayit Sheli list had discriminatory ideas and "is ruining the nice and calm atmosphere in the city… Whoever advocates for ethnic separation, is a racist party." In Acre, meanwhile, the Arab sector earned only three out of 17 seats on the city council - two seats fewer than it did five years ago. Arab council members who succeeded in earning a seat, such as Jamal Adham of the United List of Acre, blamed the creation of new Arab lists, which split the Arab vote, as the cause of the reduction in representation. Adham said these lists had been established to promote the personal interests of the candidates. However, the unsuccessful candidates on new lists, such as Hani Assadi of "Acre Bes" (Only Acre), said there was a real need to establish alternatives to the incumbent Arab candidates, whom Assadi described as corrupt and as having done little to improve the economic situation and quality of life in the city.