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Arab-American comedians turn hardships into gags at West Bank festival

Thousands of Palestinians flock to Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jerusalem for the 1001 Laughs comedy festival where serious topics such as identity, stereotypes and the difficulty of air travel turned into comedy gold.

On Friday afternoon Mo Amer stood under two looming globe-shaped light fixtures pouring heat over a makeshift stage at a Bethlehem hotel. The white-sleeved chairs in the modest ballroom were all taken and people stood in the back. Air from mobile units reached no one. With a few comic complaints and melodramatic forehead wiping, Mo plowed on, leaning in to say: “we Arabs, we don’t need doctors. We self-diagnose. If we are sick? It is nothing! It’s just because of lafhet hawa [catching a draft - ds]! And the cure for everything – olive oil!” Ripples of laughter ensued; a lean older man with missing incisors bobbed and grinned and said: “Aywa!”

Mo – short for Mohammed – was one of seven Arab-American comedians performing short skits in an English, or rather Arabish, comedy festival called “1001 Laughs.” Sponsored by the Movenpick Hotel in Ramallah and American Consulate General, the show ran this past week in Ramallah, East Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The producer, opening act, and MC Amer Zahr is well-known to +972 Magazine. He has committed the rare act of spinning his Palestinian diaspora life story, Arab and mixed-religion culture into the stuff of self-deprecatory humor that turns anger on its head, even while legitimizing its causes.

Audiences seemed thirsty for comic relief. Although mainly in English, all shows were sold out, Zahr told +972 Magazine, while explaining that some local artists joined the shows earlier in the week. He said that over 1,800 people attended in total, and that the Bethlehem event was added at the last minute for free – “but…we still consider it sold out!” said Zahr onstage to giggles. The group was surprised: “We worried we wouldn’t get large enough audiences, but people were sitting in the stairs,” Zahr said. He attributes the enthusiasm to the fact that “Palestinians love to laugh, and we know how to turn crazy and sad situations into things that make us laugh.”

Those situations translated into a few core themes that arose throughout the routines, reflecting the maddening frustrations of life that are the basis for good jokes: hardship as an Arab or Muslim American; trouble with air travel; explaining names and identity, typecasting as terrorists.

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Yes to dual loyalty, no to war with Iran

Here is my bi-partisan proposal to opponents of the deal: don’t cut our countries adrift from our allies, and don’t light my region on fire. If this deal falls, I’ll have to suffer the consequences of the war you chose.

Criticize Jewish or Israeli opponents of the Iran deal, and you are an anti-Semite. Not only that; conservative hysterics now say you have de facto accused such opponents of dual loyalty, an antiquated anti-Semitic charge being wielded as precisely as a club.

It’s time to drop that old trope altogether. The very idea that there’s something wrong with dual loyalty is obsolete. It’s a fossilized relic of single-identity patriotism to the patria from centuries past. Nowadays, people migrate, have mixed heritage, multiple citizenships, meta-state communities and even multiple sexualities.

I am proudly loyal to both the U.S. and Israel. I have the tax returns to prove it. And it is a privilege; I am enriched by seeing and feeling the arguments of both sides, and I share in the needs of both. Most of the time these interests are highly aligned. When the needs differ, they often complement each other.

It is good that Israel’s security needs have been so front and center to the negotiations over curbing Iran’s nuclear program. Never mind that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s apocalyptic predictions about Iran destroying Israel are fetishized manipulations for his own political image. Even paranoids have enemies and there has been some value in reminding the negotiating countries across the sea or the ocean about the regional concerns right here. A nuclear armed Iran really could upset the balance of power in the Middle East, embolden actors such as Hezbollah and accelerate the existing arms race. The left must know that these factors could affect not only our lives but the possibility for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

With the unrelenting voices of Israeli concerns in their ears, the powers have reached a deal with Iran. Is it good, bad, the best we could so, or disastrous? Mere mortals who are not nuclear scientists (those who are support the deal) must take our cues from figures we trust and choose the arguments we find most credible. It’s hard when political interests merge with substance and regular people don’t know what’s real.

But the overriding argument that trumps all others is what President Obama said in his...

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No, BDS does not unfairly 'single out' Israel

Ironically, the boycott movement actually expresses some level of faith in Israeli democracy by assuming a little pressure might motivate it to change.

When the most recent flotilla set sail for Gaza to protest Israel’s eight-year blockade, Prime Minister Netanyahu wrote an open letter to the activists. In a tone dripping with sarcasm, he suggested they had taken a wrong turn on the way to Syria. It’s part of a theme repeated obsessively: “there are worse violations elsewhere, but no one ever protests them. Therefore, protesting the occupation on behalf of Palestinians is hypocritical, anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. Therefore, it can be ignored.” Nowhere is this argument more prominent than as a response to boycott, sanctions and divestment (BDS) efforts against Israel.

At first glance, it is a genuinely troubling point. No one who claims to care about human rights should sleep at night knowing what is happening to millions of Syrians who are and have been uprooted, and the hundreds of thousands who have been butchered – for a start.

The problem is not that liberals don’t care. The problem is that the accusations of global indifference are simply false. Whether you support or despise the boycott of Israel, it’s time to stop writing it off as hypocrisy.

Start with sanctions. The U.S. and Europe have both placed sanctions on Iran for human rights violations, not just for nuclear research. International sanctions to end human rights violations began long before the putative “singling out” of Israel, even before the occupation.

In 1965, Britain placed sanctions on Rhodesia; then in 1966, the UN Security Council for the first time in its history authorized international sanctions against the white minority government, for the next 14 years, until Rhodesia created a fairer government and became Zimbabwe. (Israel, incidentally, was one of the countries that did not respect the sanctions – displaying at least moral and political consistency.)

The UN imposed sanctions against Iraq (1990, for its treatment of Kuwaitis during the invasion) and against Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, for its treatment of ethnic minorities. In those cases, sanctions preceded international military intervention, something that has never remotely been on the table in the West’s treatment of Israel.

Numerous other countries perpetrating egregious human rights violations, such as Sudan, Somalia and Sierra Leone have been placed under international sanction regimes....

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A death penalty for terrorists would be terrible for Israel

Not only would the death penalty have no deterrent effect on bona fide terrorists. It’s just plain wrong.

Update: On Sunday afternoon, Haaretz reports that the Prime Minister postponed the ministerial debate on the death penalty bill for three months – most likely a delaying tactic. He also instructed the formation of a government committee to look into the issue. The bill’s sponsor responded that delaying the debate over the death penalty is proof that Likud isn’t truly part of the “national” camp. Israel’s Justice Minister supports of the bill.

A ministerial committee was expected to decide whether or not Israel’s governing coalition will support a bill allowing the death penalty for terrorists on Sunday. Israel Beitenu, Avigdor Liberman’s party, says that the bill applies to people convicted of “murder in terrorist circumstances,” including in the West Bank. 

The bill fulfills a campaign promise by Liberman’s “Israel Beitenu” party. The current version of the draft law was sponsored by his neophyte legislator Sharon Gal.

The death penalty proposal is only the latest in a long-running tactic of Liberman’s: float outrageous ideas during the campaign season to rally his far-right base and then try and turn them into policies and legislation after the elections. The first example was “no loyalty, no citizenship,” which appeared during the 2009 campaign – a direct attack on Arab citizens. That was eventually translated into a series of bills designed to harangue them, sponsored or co-sponsored by Liberman’s legislators. Some of them passed. We should have known his “death penalty for terrorists” slogan was no stunt either.

Haaretz ticks off some of the obvious and well-known reasons why the law is ill-conceived: research has shown that the death penalty has little deterrent effect, especially when the potential perpetrator is ideologically motivated to commit, for example, a suicide attack. The Western world has largely disavowed the death penalty, with the exception of the U.S. (and I want to believe that even there it is fated to go the way of bans on gay marriage). Further, Israel’s attorney general is set to oppose the draft law, reports Haaretz, such that even if the committee approves the bill as expected, it will face hurdles.

But stranger things have happened and the consequences of this bill actually passing one day must be considered. Those consequences will be terrible...

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Why Netanyahu can’t just wish Palestine away: Analysis of a failed policy

Instead of earnestly pursuing peace, consecutive Israeli governments have attempted three policies: separating the Palestinians, erasing borders and boundaries, and attempting to change the world’s perception of reality. All three have failed.

Since Benjamin Netanyahu began his second term as prime minister in 2009, he has resisted reaching a two-state solution but he also claims not to want a single state, with or without a Jewish hegemony. Nobody seems to be willing to simply ask the prime minister: what do you intend for Israel and the Palestinians in five or 10 years from now?

In lieu of a vision, Netanyahu has aggressively pursued three policies: separation between Gaza and the West Bank (and within), the merging of Israel and the West Bank, and messaging the rightness of both — hasbara.

Although these policies are all ostensibly means to some elusive end, they have been implemented with zeal as if they are ends in themselves. Yet all three have failed.

Separation — FAILED

Israel has long pursued the physical, political, economic, cultural and religious separation between Gaza and the West Bank. The hope was that Israelis, the international community and no less important, Palestinians themselves, would view these societies as different entities, requiring different political solutions. The idea of a cohesive Palestinian state was supposed to dissolve.

It didn’t start with Netanyahu; physical movement restrictions between the regions from the early 1990s were compounded by Ariel Sharon’s partial withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. The latter created a sense of victory for Hamas and touched off the political rift that paralyzes Palestinian politics to this day. Israelis increasingly view this chopped up society as unsuited to statehood.

But nobody else does. Some Palestinians envision the 1967 territories, others yearn for the whole land (just as Israel loves to generate maps showing the whole land for itself). Under no Palestinian scenario does Palestine not include Gaza.

The international community didn’t read the memo either. In the recent UN report investigating Protective Edge, the commission of inquiry treated the two parts as a contiguous political whole. It acknowledges that Hamas controls Gaza internally but views the latter as part of the state that has acceded to international treaties on human rights. Which is lucky for Israel, because it meant the UN commission of inquiry held Hamas accountable to international human rights law – and for violations of it.

Israel also nurtures separation within...

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The oddity of finding hope while investigating war crimes

+972 speaks with Mary McGowan Davis and Doudou Diène, authors of the UNHRC report on potential war crimes in Gaza. The pair discuss possible consequences of the report, and why their investigation gave them hope.

By Dahlia Scheindlin and Natasha Roth

The main reaction in Israel to the findings of the United Nation’s commission of inquiry into last summer’s Gaza war was rejection. That response tops a process so fraught with politics, that it seemed unlikely the commission would be able to say anything meaningful at all.

Israel views the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the body that commissioned the report, as hopelessly politicized. Indeed, the charge that it is “obsessed” with Israel carries some weight when considering that resolutions about Israel-Palestine  constitute almost half of the UNHRC’s country-specific resolutions.

The Human Rights Council does have other commissions of inquiry investigating North KoreaSyriaEritrea and Sri Lanka. But with countries such as Congo, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia sitting in judgment of Israel’s human rights record, it is plausible that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is sometimes exploited to distract from egregious violations elsewhere. The latest UNHRC-commissioned post-mortem only compounded Israel’s lingering rage against the eponymous Goldstone report, anger so forceful that even its author later expressed qualifications.

Notwithstanding Israel’s knee-jerk defensiveness against any criticism, the UNHRC has in fact lost legitimacy in the eyes of many of the states whose behavior it wishes to change. That raises questions about how functional such a body can really be. In the current case, the Council faced tangible constraints: The original head of the commission of inquiry into Operation Protective Edge, William Schabas, recused himself during the process after relentless Israeli pressure and accusations of bias. He left on the technicality that he had not disclosed a past consulting job with the PLO.

What could the remaining authors, the American judge Mary McGowan Davis and Doudou Diène of Senegal do when starting with such a zero-sum, short-fuse keg of dynamite?

The answer is, quite a lot. Speaking by phone to +972 Magazine from Geneva, the authors of the report admitted that they felt the boot of the political delegitimization of the HRC; Israel not only refused to participate in the inquiry process, it did not even permit the commission members to physically enter Israel or the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s decision was a matter of political principle for Israel, says Diène.

“One could feel that...

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Against 'hasbara': Explaining ourselves to death

The Israeli obsession with showing ‘our side’ of the story not only guzzles financial and human resources — it is a conscious attempt to distract the world from policies of occupation. 

Last week, the CEO of the global French-owned cellular provider Orange made headlines when he told a Cairo press conference that he would like to end his company’s brand-use contract with a local Israeli provider forthwith. Apparently, he felt the profits are hardly worth the resources needed to defend the partnership politically in France.

Within hours the incoming CEO of the Israeli local provider, called “Partner,” had honed his talking points clear and sharp as icicles:

- This is not a problem for Partner alone, it is a national problem.

- We are not a subsidiary of Orange or France Telecom, we are a fully Israeli company, so this will have no impact on our business.

- We have received amazing words of solidarity from government ministers and even our biggest competitors, the other cellphone companies.

At this point, I forgot momentarily about the occupation and trembled in fear that customers too would rally to support the cellphone company whom I will never forgive for years of client abuse.

But most Israelis never thought about Palestinian life in Gaza or the West Bank to begin with. As the country is increasingly abuzz with the growing specter of boycotts, the word “occupation,” or any word about Israeli policy, never comes up. The first-aid response is hasbara, and many Israelis now view it as a solution in itself.

Translated formally as “public diplomacy” or more cynically as “propaganda,” hasbara refers to “explaining” (based on its Hebrew root) in a way that is designed to show Israel’s side. Not my side as an Israeli, but the side the government and most mainstream institutions and individuals want the world to hear.

Public diplomacy, of course, is integral to all governments in the 21st century. The difference between authoritarian societies and democracies lies mainly in the degree of such communication and the freedom to see behind it. It is common to say that in a post-modern media environment, narrative and image are all-powerful. Ironically, post-modernism could have empowered people by exposing hidden narrative and information bias to average news consumers (with apologies for violent reductionism).

Instead, more...

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Why can't Israelis just be nice to each other?

A manager at the Interior Ministry commits suicide days after being publicly shamed on Facebook for alleged racism against a black Israeli woman. What will it take for us to start treating each other like human beings first?

Last week, a black Israeli woman went to a branch of the Interior Ministry with her small children to renew a passport. She got stuck in various lines, and the versions about what happened (hers, or this one from an eyewitness) differ only in nuances. Frustrated, she spoke to the manager, telling him that she had been given the runaround on the lines because the clerk was racist. He got offended and, according to her, brusquely rejected her accusation (“get out of my face”). According to the manager, he was merely being firm.

On Wednesday, she wrote an angry Facebook post and asked people to share it. By Friday 6,000 people did so, Channel 10 interviewed her and another popular TV host picked up the story. On Saturday, the manager wrote a lengthy Facebook post expressing how hurt he was at being labeled a racist.

Then he committed suicide.

For a couple of days, Israelis spoke of little else. Everyone knows the rage that wells up when we receive foul treatment from bureaucrats or customer-service agents. There was the race aspect, dovetailing on terrible treatment of Ethiopian-Israelis demonstrating against discrimination recently.

When it turned out that the dead manager was a longtime Shin Bet agent before retiring in his 40s and moving to the Interior Ministry, the political angle exploded. Ugly responses from the Left said “I won’t shed a tear for him” — that his role in propping up the occupation was unforgivable, or that he must have been suicidal because all those terrible deeds at the Shin Bet ate away at his conscience.

Some on the right predictably decreed that the woman had manipulated her racial victimhood. Mainstream media covered the fact that he was active in organizations promoting Arab integration and in the center-left Council on Peace and Security. Those who knew him felt he was simply the wrong target for the accusation of racism.

But sometimes it is not about Israel. Often people are simply not nice enough to one other. I used to think the local version — gruffness or open hostility — was a charming idiosyncrasy, since it harked back to the...

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Suspending bus segregation won't solve a thing

The bus segregation plan is but one policy in a massive system of occupation, which is growing not only geographically but also institutionally, politically and conceptually. 

On Tuesday night the plan to segregate Palestinians and Israelis on buses in the West Bank was put into effect, reported Haaretz. On Wednesday morning the Prime Minister decided to suspend the program, following criticism.

When each development is more awful than the last, perhaps there are no more wise arguments to be made. Instead, I have documented the cycle of attitudes around this week’s example, which reflects, in broad strokes, the deadlocked mentality of the conflict itself.

1. The Israeli Defense Minister justified the separation with the following logic, quoted in Haaretz:

According to this, any Arab majority situation is a security threat to a Jew. Israelis inside the Green Line may soon view any bus with 20 Arabs, 2-3 Jews passengers, a Jewish driver and a soldier as a security threat to Jews, even though the soldier is the only one with a gun. They may then prefer to segregate buses inside Israel too.

2. Those who favor segregation will back it up with any case of Palestinian violence, which they link to the huge, historic and intractable problems. The collective voice will say this:

It is true that a Palestinian driver charged into a group in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning in what is presumed to be a terror attack, injuring two police officers. He was shot and killed.

3. Haaretz reports that the former Central (District) Commander had said that mixed buses do not pose a danger. He observed that Palestinians taking the mixed buses into Israel have work permits, and have been deemed safe enough to work among Israeli civilians inside the Green Line.

4. Those who support segregation will ignore #3, those opposed do not believe #2 justifies segregation, or argue that repressive policies contribute to #2. Points 2 and 3 are mutually exclusive for most Israelis.

5. The bus segregation plan is one policy in a massive system of occupation, which is growing not only geographically but also institutionally, politically and conceptually. It is a sprawling multi-ministerial task force with mechanisms so complex that policymakers don’t know how to manage it, hence the slow-motion development, implementation and backtracking on this single policy.

Read more: Segregation does not begin or end on buses

6....

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Shhhh, the Nakba made it to prime time

Israel’s top satire program takes on the Nakba. Sometimes humor can succeed in places where activism or advocacy fall short.

The tortured road of the Nakba towards a legitimate place in the Israeli historical memory has some unexpected twists.

Eitan Bronstein Aparicio and Dr. Eléonore Merza Bronstein recently explained that at first, it was mainly Palestinians who wished to commemorate the Nakba. Next came far-left wing Jews in Israel. Following that came the right-wing or oppositional Jewish Israeli approaches, such as “Jewish Nakba,” a phrase coined over the years as a name for the violent expulsion of Jews from Arab countries following the establishment of the State of Israel. Their piece highlights how defensive efforts to reject the history of the Palestinian Nakba, or turn Jewish history into a political rebuttal, actually acknowledge its importance. The first of these was the childish but notorious “Nakba – Bullshit” campaign by the bully-group Im Tirzu.

However, the recent appearance of the Nakba in popular, mainstream Israeli culture may be the most surprising roadstop of all.

With little blowback or social media shrieks, Israeli television viewers of all ilk were treated to a surprisingly detailed, historically informed re-enaction of the very Nakba most would prefer to ignore. This happened on Channel 2, the highest-rated, mainstream channel in the country. And not only on Channel 2, but on Eretz Nehederet, the most beloved, top-ranking satire show in the land. And that would have been enough, but the show went further, broadcasting the practically subversive skit in its Independence Day episode. Had Channel 2 been a public company, it would have violated the Nakba Law, which stipulates that a public organization observing the Nakba on Independence Day can lose its public funding.

But perhaps what can’t be done through activism or advocacy can be accomplished by humor. When we laugh, we forgo the pain and think about the content of what made us laugh. Maybe that way we forget to be shocked at the choice of content to begin with.

It’s hard for an un-funny writer to re-create humor through description, especially in translation. It’s even harder when the text is so zippy and quippy, slapping silly jokes and gravitas together like candy-coated medicine.

You can watch the episode  here (Eretz Nehederet, Season 12, episode 11, starting around 35 minutes). Otherwise, several highlights stand...

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How not to be sexually harassed in the IDF

May Fatal is a young soldier who was sexually harassed and perhaps stalked by her superior in the army. That’s nothing new. Sexual harassment in the IDF has been a dirty, loosely kept secret for decades, known to most women and plenty of men in Israel.

Few women ever go public with their experience, and even fewer do so with their own identity.

Last year, Fatal submitted a complaint against her commander Lt. Col. Liran Hajbi, a battalion commander in the Givati combat brigade, within the army system. The case made the press but she remained anonymous. In December, military prosecutors reached a plea bargain with Hajbi: he was removed from IDF service, but avoided criminal charges in a civilian court.

Last week Fatal broke her anonymity by protesting the plea bargain in an impassioned Facebook post. In so doing she became one of the few victims of sexual harassment to reveal herself publicly, rejecting the single initial and pixelated face commonly used to protect anonymity. Many have come to feel that hiding one’s name and blotting out faces on TV conveys that the woman has been shamed and strips her of her identity, making it harder for the public to relate to her.

Fatal’s post generated a series of headlines, analyses and further developments. She was attacked online for having photos of herself in a bathing suit on Facebook, supposed proof of her temptress character. MK Shelly Yachimovich wrote a lengthy response arguing for Fatal — and every woman’s — right to both wear a bathing suit and not be harassed.

Over the weekend, Gili Cohen wrote in Haaretz about  a trend of women revealing their own experiences of harassment in the army, on Facebook and elsewhere, and what it means. The article asks for the umpteenth time what happens when a woman steps forward and complains. Why don’t more women do so? Is the pain worth the price? If more women do it, will the process become less intimidating? This question is becoming central to the debate. A survey published Sunday shows that 98 percent of those who have experienced harassment do not report it to the police.

Cohen quotes Rachel Tevet-Weisel, the Israeli army’s “advisor to the Chief of Staff on women’s issues,” saying she encourages women to step up and speak out. But the advisor’s also had some thoughts about how sexual harassment can be avoided (my translation):

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Are Israelis ready for a confederated two-state solution?

A +972 poll puts the details of one such plan to the Israeli public, and finds that a majority supports the general approach.

The new year begins with speculation about the possibility of a change of government in Israel. But it is not at all clear that even a more centrist government can advance a two-state peace process with the Palestinians. Israelis and Palestinians are pessimistic about both the potential for successful negotiations or the feasibility of the two-state solution. On this point, the two publics, frankly, are more realistic than various policy circles.

In response, some people this past year began exploring other options, rather than succumb to the status quo. The initiatives center mostly around various confederation-style models, not as pipe dreams but as realistic alternatives.

One such effort by the Israel-Palestine Center for Creative Regional Initiatives (IPCRI) (as mentioned in +972’s initial poll report, full disclosure: I participate in it) has tried to break through some of the non-negotiable elements of Israeli and Palestinian two-state demands. IPCRI’s “Two States One Space,” is similar to another initiative called “Two States, One Land,” with Israelis and Palestinians who have been working together for about two years. Both visions involve two separate entities with distinct national identities, based on rough geographic definitions. There would be open borders, high cooperation, and phased but broad freedom of residence. The idea is to avoid uprooting most Israeli settlers, and accept Palestinian refugee return claims in a way that avoids trampling Jewish identity in Israel. Jerusalem is united but shared.

Read also: Israelis reject the status quo, fear int’l isolation

Our survey was the first to put these ideas to a quantitative test, with questions developed together with IPCRI. And after hearing all of the specific items in detail, a majority of Israelis – 56 percent – and even an absolute majority of Jews (51 percent) supported the general approach – precisely the same level that currently support the classic two-state formulations such as the Clinton and Geneva plans in Hebrew University surveys.

As we very often see in research about conflict resolution in this region, the whole – public support for the total framework package – is greater than the parts. Support for nearly all of the line items is lower than the 56 percent majority above. But the reactions to those items are surprising...

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+972 poll: Joint Arab list would raise voter participation

The three Arab lists in the Knesset are expected to run together in response to a raised election threshold. Asked about self-identity, the majority consider themselves Arab, but a growing and significant minority call themselves Palestinian.

Nearly 70 percent of Arabs citizens of Israel intend to vote if the three existing Arab parties run on a joint list, compared to 56 percent who voted in the 2013 elections, a new +972 poll found. But the call to boycott the elections holds powerful sway. A majority of 54 percent says that if there are such calls to boycott the elections, they will decide not to vote, leaving only 46 percent at present who are committed to voting despite such calls.

As the wave of speculation about unification of the three Arab lists swells, there is a flurry of concern about low voter turnout in the Arab community. Since the boycott against elections in 2001 when fewer than 20 percent voted, recent cycles have seen just half of Arab voters participating. The newly raised electoral threshold means that any one Arab party might not be represented in the Knesset, unless they run together.

Click here to read more on the +972 poll here

There has been a presumption that Arab voters are fed up with party politics and ego games just as much as Jewish voters, and that for Arabs, uniting would give people a boost of faith in their representatives’ willingness to put personal interest aside, to better represent the people.

And sure enough, by contrast to other indications that still only half of Arab voters will participate based on the current lists, we found the following:

• When asked “if the parties unite into one list, what are the chances that you will participate in voting?” 68 percent of Arab respondents said they would “definitely” vote, the closest indicator of actual intentions.

• One-third (32 percent) in total responded “possibly,” “there’s a 50-50 chance,” or “I won’t vote.”

Yet against this new finding, the threat of calls to boycott still lurks. Respondents to this survey were very mindful of the possible call to boycott. We asked:

“If leaders in the Arab community call to boycott and not participate in the elections, will you vote despite that, or will you decide not to vote?”

• A high portion, 40 percent,...

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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