Winnipeg Jewish Review  
Site Search:
Home  |  Archives  |  Contact Us
Features Local Israel Next Generation Arts/Op-Eds Editorial/Letters Links Obituary/In Memoriam


Critical Israeli Arab votes that could have been cast for Meretz or Herzog were drained into the Arab Unity party, essentially costing Herzog the election.

by Timothy Bratwold, Jerusalem, March 22, 2015






As in everything in the Middle East, what you see is not always, what you get, and what you expect to happen will almost never be the way things turn out.By Israeli standards, Netanyahu won by a landslide ( with  30 seats to his opponent, Herzog's  24 seats) 

But the key to this election centered on the Israeli Arab vote.




The Arab parties in Israel-the Joint Arab List (formerly Ta'al, Balad,and Hadash) banded together to forn the Joint List after the Knesset recently passad an electroal reform law, which raised the number of votes required to gain a seat in the Knesset from 2% to 3.25%.  The number of Israeli Arab Members of Knesset jumped this election from 12 to 17, in part because the parties making up the Arab Joint List's numbers went up from 10-13 and also becasue Likud and the Zionist Union each added an Arab lawmaker. (Editor's note: Israeli Television Channel 2 reported following the election that the Israeli Arab vote increased this election substantially. The fractiousness of the Arab parties and their lack of influence on government policy has discouraged Arab voter turnout in the past, which was not the case this year with the United List.)







The Israeli Arab vote was  surprisingly, the force that broke the Israeli left and allowed the Israeli right another four years grace to push forward Bibi's hard line stance on Iraq, Hamas and international terror.  This sounds incredible to our readers who have never spent serious time living in the byzantine Middle East, so I will attempt to explain.







The first thing to remember is that since the year 2000 the Arab Israelis have more or less chosen NOT to vote in protest.  So what happened this time?  Temporarily putting aside all differences (and they are very great since on the far left we have the Arab Communists and on their far right, the fundamentalists who openly support HAMAS and ISIS) made common cause to destroy what they see as their common enemy:  the state of Israel under the control of the Jewish religious Zionist right.  Journalists of every stripe assured this group that Bibi and his government was fragmented and unable to launch a successful campaign against the new rising star of the Israeli left, Herzog.  






The Arab Joint list made a joint resolution that they would only join a coalition that was willing to give up the "occupied territories" a statement which they interpreted as an Israeli withdrawal to the 1948 armistice lines, a return of the exiled Arabs to their former villages, and, in essence, the beginning of a peaceful change in the demographics of the "Jewish" state to a state in which, ultimately, there would be a Muslim majority.






The polls predicted that they would be one of the largest single parties in the election, and, as we see, they were correct.  Thirteen seats in the Parliament place them while not in a position of kingmakers, at least in a position of power.




They were convinced that the new government would be formed by Herzog, the united Arab party, Meretz, and others, or at worse case scenario, a combination of a national unity government which would include them and be a rotation between Herzog and Bibi.





For the first time the Israeli public took them seriously and the Right wing unified allowing Bibi to crush Herzog. The reason that this happened is because just as the Arabs unified into one party the Israeli right also unified to stop them.  The second reason was that critical Arab votes that could have been cast for Meretz or Herzog were drained into the Arab Unity party, essentially costing Herzog the election.





On a deeper level, it represents much more that a tactical mistake on the part of the Arabs and a brilliant move on the part of Netanyahu.  For the first time in the history of the state of Israel, it forced all parties to take the Arab vote seriously.  While many feel this was a one-time thing and the Arab voters will soon break into small parties because of their internal differences, the truth is whether they are in a coalition or in the opposition this is the first taste they have had of real power and equality since the foundation of the state of Israel, and they would be foolish to go back to traditional tribalism.




This was not about demographics, since recent information from the Israeli Central Bureau of statics has suggested that over the last 15 years, Jewish fertility has been slowly increasing — not just among observant Jews, but also in the highly secular city of Tel Aviv.  Fertility among Jewish residents in the West Bank is above 5 children.  Among Israel’s Muslims, fertility has been stable or slowly declining, and currently stands at 3.5 children.  What this is really about is democracy.  The Israeli Arabs have shown that they have learned to use the tool of Israeli Democracy to be heard, and this is a game changer.  




The election has taught two major lessons to the Jewish Israelis:  the first is that when the Arabs unify at the polls they are a credible political block which will force the Israeli right wing to put aside their differences and make a single large party.  The second is the lessons that the left learned:  they cannot count on their parties getting automatic Arab support and will have to deal with their greatest nightmare...losing Arab votes or joining a coalition with the Arabs and losing the support of moderate and left leaning Jews who still believe in a Jewish state.




The lesson for the world to learn is that Israel is not an apartheid state, but rather a developing political entity, which allows all members of the society to form political groups which will contribute to the evolution of the state of Israel in every possible aspect.  To boycott Israel is also do boycott those 13 seats in the Parliament which Arabs have worked so hard to win, and  I believe  that they will, for the most part, use to make their voice heard in a reasonable manner to improve the lot of their constituents in the areas of health, welfare and education:  the main things that ultimately both Jewish and Arab Israelis agree upon, and not to use their new power to aid in the destruction of the Jewish state which would essentially deliver them into the hands of the feudalism we now see as evidenced by Iran, ISIS, HAMAS and Hezbollah.  The choice is now theirs, now not only the Jewish Israelis, but the eyes of the world are on them, and they will be judged according to their actions during the next four years.

<<Previous Article       Next Article >>
Subscribe to the Winnipeg Jewish Review
  • Royal Bank
  • Fillmore Riley
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • JNF Manitoba / Saskatchewan
  • JCFS
  • JCFS Winnipeg
  • Orthodox Union
  • Accurate Lawn & Garden
  • Sobey's
  • Coughlin Insurance
  • Munroe Pharmacy
  • Safeway Tuxedo
  • Daniel Friedman and Rob Dalgleish
  • Lipkin Family
  • Booke + Partners
  • Red River Coop
  • Gislason Targownik
  • Janice Morley-Lecomte
  • James Teitsma
  • Obby Khan
  • Jon Reyes
  • James Bezan
  • Markus Chambers
  • Ross Eadie
  • Ted Falk
  • Artista Homes
  • Fetching Style
  • Chisick Family
  • Ronald B. Zimmerman
  • Bob and Shirley Freedman
  • Shinewald Family
  • MLT Aikins
  • MLT Aikins
  • Myers LLP
  • Charach Family
  • Munroe Dental Centre
  • MCW Consultants Ltd.
  • Preventative Health First
  • Lanny Silver
  • Josef Ryan
  • Taverna Rodos
  • Holiday Inn Polo Park
  • Bruce Shefrin Interior Design
  • PFK Lawyers
  • Commercial Pool
  • Simmonds and Associates
  • CdnVISA Immigration Consultants
  • Laufman Reprographics
  • Dr. Brent Schachter and Sora Ludwig
  • Clear Care Periodontal
  • Shindico
  • Doheny Securities Limited
  • Lazar Family
  • Superlite
  • Chochy's
  • Nick's Inn
  • Bridges for Peace
  • Global Philanthropic
  • Abe and Toni Berenhaut
  • Peerless Garments
  • Cavalier Candies
  • Roseman Corp
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • kristinas-greek
  • Broadway Law Group
  • West Kildonan Auto Service
  • The Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.
  • Sarel Canada
  • Santa Lucia Pizza
  • Roofco Winnipeg Roofing
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Nachum Bedein
Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.