Playing on Netanyahu’s warning about Arab citizens of Israel voting in the last elections, a grassroots campaign raises tens of thousands of shekels to bring Bedouin from unrecognized villages to the polls — not quite in droves, but mini-bus by mini-bus.
On Election Day in 2015, Benjamin Netanyahu sent a video to his supporters warning that “Arabs are heading to the polls in droves, and left-wing organizations are bringing them in buses.” This Tuesday, his then-baseless exhortation will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
More than 1,400 Israelis have donated tens of thousands of shekels to a crowdfunded initiative to bus to the polls Bedouin citizens of Israel who live in unrecognized villages in the Negev desert (Naqab, in Arabic).
Get-out-the-vote efforts are par for the course for nearly every party in nearly every democratic country these days. In the United States, both major parties field volunteers to drive voters to the polls. Even Netanyahu’s warning about droves of Arab voters was a scare tactic meant to push his voters off the couch and to the ballot box. Turnout is almost always a deciding factor in elections, and motivation to vote is a driving force in turnout.
The campaign to bus Bedouin voters, however, was designed to solve a different problem. So-called unrecognized Bedouin villages, where tens of thousands of Israeli citizens live, do not have the most basic infrastructure most developed nations afford their citizens. They do not have running water, electricity, sewage, paved roads, public transportation — and no polling places.
Anyone living in an unrecognized Bedouin village who wants to vote must travel significant distances in order to do so in most cases. And without a car, it’s extremely difficult if not impossible to pull off.
The initiative, which is being fully funded by a crowdfunding campaign run by “Zazim,” an Israeli grassroots organizing group akin to MoveOn, and the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages of Negev, is expected to bring between 6,000 and 10,000 Bedouin voters to the polls on Tuesday.Read More