A clear victory for Likud among minorities

For the first time, the Likud received more minority votes than Labor or Meretz.

Liberman and Netanyahu 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/ The Jerusalem Post)
Liberman and Netanyahu 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/ The Jerusalem Post)
Likud party members, including myself, were not thrilled with the recent election results. But for the first time, the Likud received more minority votes than Labor or Meretz. This dramatic reversal, which has not occurred since the creation of the State of Israel, will be etched in the country’s leaders’ memories for many years to come.
The Likud received 20,000 minority votes, mostly from the Druse community. Labor received 14,000, Meretz 12,000, Kadima 10,000 – and if I had been higher up on the list, it is likely that the Likud would have fared even better.
Minority Likud candidates, especially among the Druse, lacked the funding available to Labor, Meretz and Kadima candidates who ranked higher on their parties’ lists.
Despite the tendency among minorities to vote for leftwing parties, apparently my thorough work helped bring about this change in spite of harsh criticism coming from the Arab parties.The Arab parties that recognized my potential did not attack any candidates from the Zionist parties and concentrated on supporting us. MK Gideon Sa’ar recognized my potential to bring in 15,000-20,000 minority votes.
Israel’s minority population is made up of various groups: Sunni Muslims, Druse, Christians, Beduin, Circassians, Alawites and Samaritans, which together amount to 1.7 million of the 8 million people living in Israel. Some 700,000 of them have voting privileges, and 375,000 exercised this right in this past election. 300,000 of these voters voted for Arab parties and the remainder voted for Zionist parties. Ninety-five percent of Druse voters voted for Zionist parties, which is also typical of the Circassian, Samaritan and Alawite communities.
On the other hand, the Sunnis, Beduin and Christians mostly voted for the Arab parties.
I focused on each group in the Arab community separately, with increased focus on the Druse and Beduin communities, and as a result, the Likud received a much higher number of votes from these communities.
ONE NEEDS to remember that the Druse people believe they are the descendants of Yitro, Moses’s father-in-law.
The Druse believe that they served as high priests in the first and second temple periods and that hundreds of years ago, they were the first ones to help the Jews and as a result were killed.
When Israel became a state, most of the Druse youth volunteered to serve in the IDF well before there was an official draft. Since then, hundreds of Druse have been killed defending Israel’s borders.
A research study about minorities’ DNA that was carried out at the Technion in Haifa shows that the Druse have similarities in their DNA to that of Jews, a finding that has strengthened the belief that the Druse were at one point part of the Jewish people.
There are numerous holy personages in Druse lore that also appear in Jewish scripture: Jethro, Zebulon, Judah, Elijah, Job and Abel.
Druse live mostly in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and of course in Israel. The Israeli national anthem was composed by Naftali Herz Imber in Daliat-el-Carmel, the largest Druse village in Israel, and the government established Beit Yad Labanim there as a memorial of fallen Druse soldiers.
The outgoing Knesset has six Druse members, one of whom was a minister. This granted increased power to the Druse community, which has suffered from social discrimination, even though the percentage of Druse youth who serve in the army is higher than among Jews.
Following the recent election, the Druse community will have only one representative in the 19th Knesset – MK Hamed Amer from Likud Beytenu – which has been a tremendous disappointment for Druse youth. As a result, many articles against the government have been published, and this could even affect the Druse youth’s morale and attitude toward serving in the IDF.
THIS IS the time to call upon Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to appoint a Druse minister in his government and thereby reduce tensions and prevent the Arab parties from trying to bring the Druse over to their side. We must not let the Druse and other minorities for whom the future and safety of the State of Israel is important to feel that they are only good for cutting down trees and drawing water. This could rip apart the pact between the Druse and Israel, a situation that Israel’s enemies would thoroughly enjoy.
Israel’s minorities are torn between two worlds; on the one hand, they recognize that civil rights in Israel are respected as opposed to the situation in Arab countries, especially since the Arab spring. On the other hand, minorities in Israel can see that the villages of Druse, Circassian and Beduin, all of whom serve in the IDF, are even more neglected than other Arab villages. In other words, equality for all people living in Israel, which was a part of the original vision of the founders of the state, has not been achieved.
Affirmative action needs to be implemented. Druse need to be represented in each Knesset, as Ze’ev Jabotinsky aspired to when he said, “I hope that one day a Jew will be prime minister and a non- Jew deputy, and vice versa.”
If this were to occur, it would change world public opinion of Israel and counter those who claim that Israel is an apartheid state.
Minorities are clearly represented in all of the dictatorships in the region, yet Israel, which is considered liberal and open, is behind in this area as a result of internal party politics. The absurdity in this situation is that Druse command entire divisions in the army and participate in the most significant security decisions, yet when it comes to government participation, there is no place for Druse.
This untenable situation should be keeping all the party leaders awake at night.
There needs to be a new legislative initiative that would ensure proper representation in the Knesset by Druse and other minorities in Israel, especially among the communities that desire a strong Israel that will last for many generations to come.The author is a former deputy minister for regional development.