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To vote or not to vote? Grappling with the question

Last month’s Gaza war-cum-onslaught now seems like a distant memory, a forgotten speck of death and destruction in a news cycle that is now dominated by the January 22 elections and all the recent political musical chairs that make our political system look like a chicken running around without a head. I am now supposed to get ready for what I have always been taught is my most prized privilege and duty as a citizen: to go to the ballot and make my voice heard.

But when you’ve lost faith in your state – its government, military, courts and mainstream media –  to the point that you either laugh at the absurdity or cry at the dreadfulness, voting doesn’t seem like a privilege or a duty, but rather more like a farce. When you don’t believe, not only in the elected government representatives, but in the fundamental working assumptions that guide the system you are expected to participate in, the question that you are prompted to ask yourself is not “who should I vote for? but rather, or at least firstly, “what does it mean to vote?

I have been grappling with this question recently, feeling very helpless and frustrated. I know that common sense says, voting is the thing to do to try and effect change – but  not many things seem to make sense in Israeli reality these days. I posted a status on my Facebook page a few days ago in which I expressed that I may have reached the point in which I will boycott the elections. “How can I participate in a process that is being so obviously mocked and undermined? Won’t my vote only give the regime the ability to say – ‘See? we are a vibrant democracy!’ and let it continue trampling all over everyone it pleases under the guise of normalcy?” I wrote.

I received a bunch of different comments, from those saying outright that not voting is just giving up, waiving your right to affect change and letting the fascists win. Others encouraged me, saying that boycotting is the right thing to do, since there is no real democracy in Israel, considering the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and East Jerusalem cannot vote in national elections and yet are directly affected by their outcome.

One friend, an active member of the Da’am Workers Party (which has never made the 2 percent threshold to get a seat in the Knesset) argued in favor of voting:

Unlike in South African apartheid, a party in Israel can run in the elections and be against the current situation. This means there is a genuine possibility for real change through the parliamentary system in Israel. As long as this is the case, as long as the elections are not rigged, I believe we must vote (assuming there is indeed a party that represents our views).

Another friend, who is an activist from West Jerusalem and is in favor of boycotting the elections, wrote in response:

I vote by building local capacity to voice demands that aren’t otherwise heard, and by screaming INJUSTICE! In my case, I live in a town where if you are not jewish, you don’t even GET to vote in a national election. I am not going to kid myself into thinking I can symbolically vote on their behalf. The system is rigged. It is not democratic. If this isn’t a good enough reason to boycott a so called political process, I don’t know what is.

These are both strong arguments. For me, by definition, Israel’s de facto control over the occupied Palestinian population that has no right to vote in national elections disqualifies it from the most basic definition of an electoral democracy. As Ahmed Tibi once wryly pointed out: Israel is a Jewish and democratic state: democratic for Jews and Jewish for Arabs. In this sense, going to vote means in principle that I am participating in a structure that I oppose, that systematically discriminates against a huge population, and that continues to believe, on a holistic level, that the way to preserve Jewish identity is through ethnic-religious nationalism, territorialism and military domination.

But sure, no democracy is perfect. And, practically speaking, a non-vote is one less vote for a party that does offer an agenda I agree with, or at least values I identify with, and thus counts as one more vote for the strongest parties – who fail to offer alternatives to how Israel operates and where it is headed. Since the face of the country in fact does represent the democratic will of the majority of Jewish people who live here, why not vote for one of the few parties whose platform includes an end to the occupation, to segregation and to settlements, and who recognizes the need to provide all people living between the Jordan and the Mediterranean with equal rights – in the hopes that it can eventually garner enough votes to change something?

That is certainly an option I am considering. Even though most Israelis won’t vote for them (or have never even heard of them) and so these parties won’t have substantial power. But, as has been argued here recently, there are no quick fixes, and building up a tiny party whose agenda is to change the system from the core can be effective over time. On the other hand, I feel action is necessary now, yesterday, and I can’t protest by not paying my taxes, so maybe the way to protest is with my vote.

And let’s say one of these smaller parties (Hadash, Balad, Da’am Workers Party) did win a respectable number of seats in the Knesset, wouldn’t its presence just function as a pleasant facade and moral compass for Israel’s continued policies, giving people the chance to gloat: “See, we are a healthy democratic society?” I can’t tell you how many times someone has argued with me that Israel is a wonderfully just and admirable democracy because it “allows” Arab members of Knesset.

Of course that doesn’t mean I think these parties shouldn’t exist – but imagine a situation (very hard to imagine) in which all citizens eligible to vote in Israel – Jewish, Palestinian – who opposed the fundamentals of how this country operates, boycotted not only the elections, but the political system on a whole, just opted out – not in silence but as an organized public statement of protest that has the potential for over a million backers. Wouldn’t the legitimacy of the regime be in serious doubt?

That is obviously not a realistic vision, but more of a cognitive exercise, and maybe food for thought for a future campaign. I am certainly on the fence about whether to vote – but the most important thing for me right now is to grapple with the question, discuss it and  prompt others to do so. (*Regarding the blank or “white” ballot, it is not counted separately in Israel. The authorities count all the votes that have been disqualified in one big lump, which include not only blank ballots but erroneous ones, like two slips in one ballot – so a blank ballot is not actually counted as a protest vote and that is why I am not considering it).

For me, the choice not to take part in Israel’s electoral process is legitimate and important to consider. Like a friend recently said to me, it is similar to the question of whether to serve in the IDF, since it is nearly impossible to participate in this body without being a tool in a system you don’t believe in, that forces you to compromise your beliefs. But it is of course more complicated than that.

So, while I may feel confident in principle, the real tough question is, pragmatically speaking, what is the move that will have the most impact on the situation towards my vision for this society?

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Warren

      If all of us stayed home on election day it would not call the legitimacy of the system into question. We’d be lost in the noise of people who don’t vote for other reasons. Pollsters would assume we were apathetic, not opposed.

      Reply to Comment
      • AYLA

        I agree.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Kolumn9

      The residents of East Jerusalem do not vote in elections because they do not take up the citizenship that is offered to them. Those that do take Israeli citizenship vote like every other Israeli. That discredits the argument by your friend who is a resident of West Jerusalem. He could just as easily go out and campaign with East Jerusalem Arabs to get citizenship and vote.

      The words of MK Tibi are not relevant on the issue are rather retarded given the letters in front of his name and the fact that he spends as much time villifying Israel as trying to gather votes for his party within the democratic system he knows he is a part of.

      Whether you vote or not is not relevant. The number of people like you is so small that you have no electoral impact. The idea that a boycott of the vote under such circumstances would matter is laughable. There would be 30 times more people that wouldn’t vote because they were too busy watching television.

      Reply to Comment
      • I do not know the particulars of this offer of citizenship, but if it is refused en mass there may well be a reason; the mass refusal measures something.

        I do not understand why one would comment here if one feels the writers are so marginal. To feel superior? Gloat? Strike the impure thought from the land?

        Reply to Comment
        • Sam

          Citizenship was extended (and blanket-refused) with the annexation of Jerusalem. Now individuals who want citizenship have to pay a bunch of money, wait a long time, and jump through a lot of hoops.

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          • sh

            The claim that all the inhabitants of the Jerusalem area were offered citizenship in 1967 is a myth.

            “After the annexation, Israel conducted a census in these areas and granted permanent residency status to residents in the annexed areas present at the time the census was taken. Persons not present in the city for whatever reason forever lost their right to reside in Jerusalem. Permanent residents are permitted, if they wish and meet certain conditions, to receive Israeli citizenship. These conditions include swearing allegiance to the State, proving that they are not citizens of any other country, and showing some knowledge of Hebrew. For political reasons, most of the residents do not request Israeli citizenship.”

            More here:
            http://www.btselem.org/jerusalem/legal_status

            Reply to Comment
      • AYLA

        what’s important to me in Kolumn9′s response is that those who don’t vote in protest will be considered to be among those not voting because they’re home watching TV. Is this how you want us to go down, Mairav; counted among those home watching TV?! Bad, Israeli TV?! ;)

        Reply to Comment
      • Philos

        Kolumn9, if you actually bothered to read any of the articles here you’d understand that Palestinians in East Jerusalem, and many Israeli-Palestinians, refuse to vote because to do so confers legitimacy on a state or annexation they fundamentally disagree with.

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        • Kolumn9

          Philos, some have accepted Israeli citizenship. Those that don’t have not done so out of personal choice. They don’t vote because they don’t choose to, not because such a right is denied to them, thus making your comment and the objection raised in the article irrelevant.

          Reply to Comment
          • sh

            They haven’t accepted Israeli citizenship, they have applied for and been granted Israeli citizenship.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Distinction without a difference.

            Reply to Comment
    3. Richard Witty

      I saw a presentation by Gideon Levy (on you tube) from 2010, in which he described the disinterest that Israelis demonstrate as far as politics.

      His quote “it used to be said that put two Jews in a room, you’ll hear three opinions. Now, you put five Jews in a room and hear none.”

      The times and ways that you participate in electoral dialog (the decision), is in the formation of parties, in the coaching/helping of prospective candidates, in the formation of platforms, in meeting listening and conveying (my favorite is door to door) during campaign, helping voters get to the polls, and voting.

      I bought couch recently. None met my specifications. I chose one that I thought would be best among the options.

      A fundamental compromise or an incidental one?

      Reply to Comment
    4. Paul J

      When Israeli Palestinians choose to boycott Israeli elections, Whilst I may disagree as to the value/point of the act, I do understand and empathise with the rationale…exclusion requires a an act of exclusion

      When Middle Class New Yorkers who enjoy the fruits and pleasures of Tel Aviv urban life pontificate about boycotting against “participating in a structure that I oppose” I simply yawn…. what irrelevant self indulgence… Yafeh Nefesh comes to mind…

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        I’m sorry but there is no “Israeli Palestinians”.

        Palestine is a toponym.
        For the brightest: Toponym is the general term for any place name.

        Thus EVERYONE residing in Palestine is Palestinian, disregarding of race or religion.

        Since toponym “Palestine” was partially replaced by toponym “Israel” those who now reside in area called Israel are Israelis – Jews, Arabs and others.

        Reply to Comment
        • ‘Palestinian’ doesn’t just refer to an occupant of a particular physical space but to a cultural and/or national identity. You don’t get to tell people who they are and what they can call themselves just because you don’t happen to like the words they use.

          Reply to Comment
    5. Paul J

      I’m sorry too – but YOU cant wish away in a kafka arrogant tone those citizens of Israel who wish to identify as Palestinian on the basis of a national/cultural/ethnic identity – should they not wish to self identify as Israeli-Arab.

      I take it from your Toponym – that Palestinians in East Jerusalem become Israeli Arabs at the stroke of an annexation “Israeli” pen…or Israeli Jews living in Ariel should henceforth be called Palestinian Jews….a secondary yawnnnnn

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        I wish to no longer be identified as a carbon-based life form and demand to be recognized by the UN as a volcanic rock. I also demand in the strongest possible terms that you accept my entirely irrational and unreasonable self-definition.

        Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        They could – and do – identify themselves as “Palestinian Arabs” or “Israeli Arabs” but not “Palestinians”.

        They simply have no right to usurp this name pretending that there were no non-Arab Palestinians.

        Indeed, Palestinian Arabs could became Israeli Arabs at the stroke of a pen.

        >…or Israeli Jews living in Ariel should henceforth be called Palestinian Jews…

        Until 1948 there were no other Jews but Palestinian Jews in what then was called Palestine and today is called Israel.

        You’ll be surprised but there is some people who until today reject the very toponym “Israel” thus turning Israeli Jews into Palestinian Jews de-jure.

        Capish?

        >a secondary yawnnnnn
        Watch out not to swallow another fly.

        Reply to Comment
        • Paul J

          “They simply have no right to usurp this name pretending that there were no non-Arab Palestinians”…

          Capish? I do indeed.

          Reply to Comment
        • AYLA

          Palestinians identified as such, and with each other, long before there was a Jewish State. Just because they didn’t have national sovereignty, or a State, does not mean that they were generically Arab. The Jews who were here in 1948, fighting, know very well that there was a Palestinian People. I’ve read many accounts from them saying as much. It is true that the Palestinian identity, particularly within Israel, has been strengthened over recent years because of their struggle. Isn’t that what’s strengthened the Jewish identity throughout time? Saying there is no such thing as a Palestinian identity put you in the same league with people, Palestinians included, who say that Judaism is a religion and that the idea of a Jewish People is an invention of the Jews. Everyone pulling that crap on both sides is responsible for the intractability of this conflict. We say that they don’t recognize us and they want to wipe us off the map when we don’t recognize them and we already have wiped them off the map. Even if the identity of being Palestinian were pure invention (which it isn’t), recognize people as they self-identify. If you want to be recognized by someone, recognize them.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Sorry Ayla, here you are just wrong. Before 1948 the term Palestinians did not refer to Arabs and they did not refer to each other as Palestinians because it wouldn’t make any sense. Palestine was a British Mandate with citizenship for both Arabs and Jews. It would make sense for neither group to define itself as Palestinians when trying to differentiate themselves. They defined themselves as either Arabs or Syrians depending on political preference, but not as Palestinians. If the term was used it was in reference to the geographic location or the British Mandate, such as the Palestine Post (now the Jerusalem Post), not as a way to refer to the Arab residents of Mandatory Palestine.

            Reply to Comment
          • sh

            So how do you explain the fact that a Palestinian newspaper called Filastin – came out twice a week and was published in Jaffa – existed from 1911 to 1948 ?

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Sh, I already provided an explanation. Many newspapers are named after geographic areas with no association with an underlying national identity.

            Reply to Comment
          • AYLA

            If I want to know how Palestinians identified before 1948, I ask Palestinians. a) what SH said. b) they were a collective people on this land, and whether or not they called themselves “Palestinians”, they certainly did not belong to any other neighboring country; they belonged to Palestine. And each other. Every other Arab nation recognized them as their own people on their own land (colonized or not). This kind of thinking is academic at best and something very dark and perversive at worst. At this point in time, it has the effect of the latter, regardless of where it’s coming from. We’ve done everything we can to erase Palestinians from this land–destroying ancient cisterns, cutting down their trees, destroying their buildings, erasing their language, scaring them off, destroying their homes. It makes me sick. It should make you sick. As a Jew.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Ayla, if you ask a politically active Palestinian he or she will provide you the answer that corresponds to their narrative. However, pretending there was a Palestinian nation prior to 1948 doesn’t correspond with reality and it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Calling oneself a Palestinian in 1947 would not in any way differentiate between Arab and Jew and would make no sense as a national designation. I refuse to accept Palestinian fairy tales because you feel bad for them. And yes, it matters.

            I feel perfectly fine about all the actions taken by Jews to defend themselves over the past 100 years in the land of Israel. These actions were consistently in response to Arab attacks and attempts to destroy Israel and kill Jews.

            Reply to Comment
          • AYLA

            I never said there was a Palestinian nation. There was a Palestinian people by whatever name, in Palestine, over hundreds of years in same families, who identified with each other and no other nation. I know this, too, from Jews who were here in the 30′s and 40′s. To say they weren’t Palestinian is a technicality based on the fact that they were colonized and weren’t a sovereign nation, which they well know. They had their own culture, their own everything. Our actual history here, and our true connection to this place, is not threatened by theirs, and theirs is not threatened by ours, in a sane world. But people with your argument, and Palestinians who say there’s no Jewish People and that our history here is myth, are responsible for the intractability of this conflict Trying to erase Palestinians is not only immoral, but also makes those you’re trying to erase feel only more determined to their stake their claim to said identity and place. Understandably.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            There were Arabs here that were not particularly different from those in Damascus or Beirut. There was no Palestinian people, nation, state or anything else because there was nothing to differentiate an Arab from Haifa from one from Beirut. There wasn’t even a border until the Ottoman Empire fell. They most certainly didn’t call themselves Palestinians. Their flags and causes were Arab nationalist flags or Syrian flags or Islamic flag. Their religions were the same as those across the border in three directions, Sunni Muslim, Greek Orthodox, some Greek Catholic and some Protestants. This isn’t unique to the Palestinian Arabs. The Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi labels are all artificial labels that it took the Arabs of those countries dozens of years to adopt, hence the popularity of pan-Arabism and they still haven’t stuck and are on the edge of collapse in all those countries. Never have I argued here that the Arabs don’t exist or didn’t live here. I erase nothing that existed. However the argument that the Palestinians (meaning Muslim and Christian Arabs) are somehow a distinct group that existed since time immemorial is garbage and I will not accept it from them or from you. They certainly exist now. The distinct identity was created in response to Zionism and a failure of pan-Arabism to destroy Israel and drive out the Jews. I find this a sufficient level of recognition to allow for negotiations and compromise without suspending disbelief as you have done and I find the entire argument that I am expected to accept their narrative because you feel sorry for them ludicrous.

            Reply to Comment
          • XYZ

            There were no “neighboring countries” in the region prior to the First World War. The whole thing belonged to the Ottoman Empire. Certainly there were differences between Arab groups in the different geographical regions but there was no concept of belonging to a specific “nation”.

            Before 1948, the term “Palestinian” meant “Jew”. As I understand it, the first use of the world Nakba came after the British took control of the area and separated Palestine from Syria, which the Arabs objected to. The Khilafat movement in India opposed the British and French dividing up the Ottoman Empire and also to Ataturk’s abolishing of the Caliphate. These were the big issues of the time, not particularist “nationalism” identified with the artificial states the British and French set up in the area after 1919, Palestinian being one of these artificial contrapations.

            Reply to Comment
    6. The Trespasser

      Ontopic:

      Just about an hour ago I took ride in shuttle line #4 in TLV from near the port to Florentin neighborhood where I reside now.

      There was a group of young guys and gals – privileged white Ashkenazi Jews (not my words), probably returning from a bar – trashed as hell.
      I was sitting right next to them and could not help but eavesdropped to their conversation which was about this specific topic: Whether vote or not, and if yes – for who?

      Most of them had no intentions to vote at all – no worthy party to give their vote to.
      Lieberman is too Russian
      Bibi is too aggressive
      Shelly is pure laughable
      Tzipi is plain scary – freaking Mossad agent.
      Ale Yarok? Pot-head clowns.

      One girl however wanted to vote Meretz.
      Why? – asked her friends
      non-exact quote start
      —————–
      Because I don’t like it here.
      Something must be changed.
      And if I vote Meretz than maybe one day they’ll make a law or something so things could be changed.
      I do firmly believe that things could and must be changed and we have to vote to change them.
      ————
      quote end

      I was hoping to hear any realistic propositions – but there was none. She simply has no idea what’s going on in her country.

      She read Meretz and Hadash platform as she stated, and was enlightened by Communist-Socialist ideas.

      Too young and still too ignorant to realize that bloody Commies failed every single country they’ve touched – Israel in that list too.

      But what Meretz has to offer?
      I became curious and went to their web site.

      Oh great g-d lord of Israel!
      It was a bit of a surprise…

      http://meretzplatform.org.il/category/02/
      First few socioeconomic ideas from their new platform.

      * To setup an entity which would plan economy, have authority and will consist of multiple commissions (i’ll skip some less important text)

      * To increase income tax of companies to levels of other world countries

      * To cancel VAT on regulated food products (eggs, milk, flour and such)
      * To change income tax so top 20% – those who earn the most would pay more while middle class would pay less.

      To plan economy is to kill it. The beauty of capitalism is that only strongest survives. Those who provide best products at most competitive prices.
      However when some entity tries to plan how many shoes should produce factory A or factory B … I’m truly surprised to find idiots who still believe in this dangerous ideas.

      To increase income tax on large companies would mean one thing – they will go elsewhere.

      Reducing VAT means to cut the budget. The pie is only so big.
      However I’m afraid that after large corporations leave they’ll have some problems.

      And a final nail in the coffin – to increase income tax of 20% of Israelis. Most educated, experienced, able, speaking languages.

      What terrorists couldn’t do in decades idiots from Meretz could easily achieve in couple years, should they be given a chance.

      Tomorrow I’ll go and enlist for Israel Beiteiny.

      Reply to Comment
      • XYZ

        I like the part in the MERETZ platform about “setting up commission to plan the economy”. Israel had this in the past. So did the USSR and other socialist-communist countries. These “commissions” would be stacked with MERETZ members, their friends and relatives and they would see to it that they would get all sorts of special favors and handouts not available to the general public.
        Someone I know who made aliyah from Communist Romania told me there was a popular joke in Romania that said:
        “Things are so good here in socialist Romania that the workers get to dring champagne every day…..through their representatives in the Communist Party”. In other words, the Communist apparatchiks drink champagne every day in the name of the workers, and the workers get pleasure out of the knowledge that their representatives are drinking it in their name.
        Why do you think Israeli voters turned against the socialist MAPAI and MAPAM parties and their bankrupt socialist policies. MERETZ thinks people want that back?

        Reply to Comment
      • Philos

        Right, survival of the fittest, unless you’re a bank or a politically connected industry (airlines, for example), in which case the government will bail you out with tax payer money. After plunging state finances into the red said capitalist propagandists (after being having everyone else’s wealth redistributed up to them and their buddies) will tell us about the sublime creative destruction of capitalism in which only the fittest firms survive, and thus this means we should not fear the hefty cuts in welfare programs (for all individuals other than financial corporations) and tax increases (for all individuals other than corporations). The fact that you still believe this nonsense is unsurprising. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Just like there never has been in the history of humanity anything approaching socialism (in spite of what the Soviets claimed) so too there has never been anything like capitalism or free trade in human history. It’s one big, rigged, game. For a better understanding via an anecdote – watch “The Wire.”

        Reply to Comment
    7. Mairav, you make a mistake if you believe this dilemma only exists in Israel. It exists here in the States, as for example in our recent election. Several years ago I had a realization. If the choice is between dweedledum and dweedledummer; or relevant today between a crook and a really bad crook, I have no obligation to vote; a guideline I have followed many times.

      I suggest the conventional wisdom is flawed. Voting is civic right, not a civic responsibility; and when there are no viable choices to make, it is morally correct to not act.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Trespisser

      >Tomorrow I’ll go and enlist for Israel Beiteiny.

      Oh what a surprise. D-bag goes to D-bagger party.
      Wake me up if something new happens.

      Reply to Comment
    9. If you are dismayed over the apparent uselessness of your vote, then what is to be said for those Bank protestors of the Wall who continue to turn out, week to week, month after month, assuming real risk to their bodies?

      There were, in the American Jim Crow South (and elsewhere in that land), people who felt as you. Yet that time ended. Things have to get worse before there can be a better, and voices must be situated to speak, then. That strikes me as a reason to vote.

      Reply to Comment
      • AYLA

        like (even though I can’t find you on Facebook, Greg Pollock, I trust you’ll understand this response).

        Reply to Comment
        • No, I am on Facebook as “Greg Pollock,” with a colorful glass cup as self photo. But I have no “Wall” whatever that is. Or is that Twitter? I am afraid of Facebook, somehow, even though I use my own name here. I’ve tried to kill my Facebook account, with no success.

          Reply to Comment
    10. sh

      “Unlike in South African apartheid, a party in Israel can run in the elections and be against the current situation.”

      First of all, this is not true. In South Africa the electoral system was different. Future members of Parliament gained their experience and support from the geographic constituencies they represented. Helen Suzman, who was for a while the only voice in the South African Parliament to oppose apartheid, was first elected to an opposition, ex-ruling party that had lost power in a previous election. By the time the next election took place the constituency borders had been changed, she represented predominantly Jewish Houghton and represented what was considered in ZA terms a leftist party that won several seats. At that time, “coloureds” were still allowed to stand for election. When their right to do so was abolished she ended up as the only representative of her party in Parliament. Over the years reformists such as she formed groups that splintered off from that party and subsequent ones and newcomers joined those splinter groups as they slowly gained a little more force, always remaining relatively minuscule and always in opposition. They kept the flame burning while pressure from outside gained force enough to make a dent in the system. Eventually the ruling party caved in on apartheid, as we know.

      We do not vote by geographic constituency. Voters choose their party according to hype they get from the media and then, if they’re exceptionally motivated, trouble to go to places where a representative of the party they’re interested in will speak, usually during election campaigns of course.

      But if Suzman had not upheld her principles and nevertheless worked within a system she abhorred, the flame might have died. She was able to hang in there because enough people voted for her.

      What I’m saying is that not voting at all is the ultimate cop-out. I’m not going to specify again whom you are abandoning to their fate, +972 has pretty much covered them. Mairav, please listen to the friend who told you to vote.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Aaron Gross

      I appreciate the dilemma. I think the right choice, when things are as bad as you say, is not to vote. One single vote (or non-vote) counts only to the extent that the (non)voter talks about it, as you’re doing here, publicly. So the question is, which public discussion better expresses your political views: “Why I didn’t vote” or “Why I voted Hadash (or whatever)”?

      Reply to Comment
    12. This kind of thinking is starting to hurt my brain. It hurt my brain when self-righteous Americans were blabbering about it and it hurts my brain even more when I hear about it in Israel.

      By this logic, Americans should have refrained from voting for Lincoln in 1860 since it only would have validated a system in blacks were not free. I’m sure President Breckinridge would have greatly appreciated more of that thinking.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Richard Witty

      Another thought.

      Your vote will not make the difference between any party having an additional seat.

      Your voice though might.

      Even if you feel that you end up looking stupid by participating in something that is far less than a real choice, ignore that self-protection.

      Go fearless into what is best, if not even good.

      Reply to Comment
    14. AYLA

      I sympathize with the hopelessness and the outrage. But! This is like saying: my country and its system are rendering me invisible, so you know what I’m going to do? Be invisible! Take that! Of course you, Mairav, are among the heroes using your voice all the time here; don’t get me wrong. But, well, not everyone hears you. Everyone does, however, know how many seats Hadash, and though they aren’t on your list, Meretz have in the knesset. My personal concern with voting for the purely Arab parties is that those votes are understood as pure demographics (I think?). This is why *they’re* non-vote is meaningful. When only 50% of Palestinian Israelis vote, *that* is heard as dissent or helplessness (a problem). when you don’t vote, it’s unheard. Remember Haggai’s response piece to Yuval’s when Yuval said he was going to leave Israel? Ditto to not voting. Palestinians in the West Bank can’t vote. You can’t exactly vote for them for all the reasons you already cited, but you can let the country know that an opposition exists. At the same time, I’d love to see a movement like the one you fantasized about, protesting the whole system, j-14 style. Are there no petitions in this country? But this should go along with a vote. Please.

      Reply to Comment
      • AYLA

        *their* not voting… (not they’re).

        Reply to Comment
    15. Ante Pavelic

      Comment deleted by moderator. This user is not permitted to comment on +972. All his / her comments will be deleted.

      Reply to Comment
      • XYZ

        Note to moderators-
        This person who now calls him or herself Pavelic has used the names of other Nazis, particularly SS leaders and other Nazis in the past and has been banned.

        Reply to Comment
    16. TobyR

      I have a suggestion: Use your vote to represent the unrepresented. Team up with a Palestinian from “the territories” you know, if you know any, or try to get to know one if you don’t. Talk about the Israeli parties and what they stand for.
      Then vote how she tells you she would. If she wouldn’t vote at all, you don’t vote. If she tells you she’d vote for Meretz you do that. If she’d vote for Balad you do that.

      Reply to Comment
      • sh

        And if she tells you to vote for Da’am Workers Party like your other friend did, do that.

        Reply to Comment
    17. ronit

      you have the opportunity to add volume to the voice of the values you hold. to choose not do so because of fear of how someone might use your right action for wrong purposes is only buying into their goals, not yours. not giving a sane voice more power through your vote would be a shameful act of silence.

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