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Patronizing much? Haaretz prints editorial in Arabic, urging Palestinian citizens to vote

Tuesday’s Haaretz editorial calls on Arab citizens to vote in the Israeli elections, despite the feelings of failure and disappointment they may have toward the Israeli parliament. The piece (accurately) states that voting numbers are relatively low among Palestinian citizens of Israel, resulting in a Kensset representation that is roughly half of their share in the populations. Quote:

Therefore, the Arab public has no better alternative than the civic struggle, which demands patience. Despair and abstention are the worst enemies of such a struggle, and they are luxuries that Israel’s citizens can’t afford. Massive Arab turnout in this election would serve all those who aspire to democracy in this country, Jews and Arabs alike. The Arab citizenry must get out and vote − for peace, for equality and for democracy.

Here is a link to the piece in English and Arabic.

Personally, I find this act incredibly patronizing. If the journalists at Haaretz have something to say to the Arabs in Arabic, they could do so by using the various Palestinian media organizations, which Israeli Jews occasionally do. This feels more like an order than a request; it is an act that replicates everything that was so horribly wrong with the way the Zionist left looks upon the Palestinians – as a tool in achieving its own ambitions. I believe that the majority should try to avoid telling the minority how to fight for its rights and only join the struggle when it is invited.

I wonder what Palestinian readers think.

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    1. sh

      I’m not a Palestinian reader but I know what I think. Haaretz, if it can do one article on one page in Arabic and Hebrew, could do a newspaper in Arabic and Hebrew, every day. It might be smaller, in a different format, but that would be news.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Why would it waste money like that? The Jews don’t read Arabic and the Arabs don’t read Haaretz. It sounds like a terrible business decision. On second thought, I wholeheartedly support this idea.

        Reply to Comment
        • sh

          Jews don’t read Arabic? There are plenty who do but it wouldn’t harm those who don’t to learn, considering our geographic location. In the 1990s there was a bilingual mag for kids called Halonot-Shababeek and it wasn’t financial problems that killed it.
          Why waste money? We do nothing but, K9.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Yeah, let’s consider our geographic location and look at our neighbors. The Arab world is a giant collapsing disaster zone from one end to the other. Why would anyone bother learning Arabic?

            Reply to Comment
    2. ronit

      “I believe that the majority should try to avoid telling the minority how to fight for its rights and only join the struggle when it is invited.” what an offensive statement. we are all in the same fight for equality. i am not “invited” to fight against discrimination, i’m obligated to, whether i’m the majority or the minority. the only slightly patronizing thing i see in this is that it is written in arabic. if someone buys the newspaper, they obviously are able to read it in the language in which it was published.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Lawrence

      I think a good journalist should find out “what the Palestinians think.” Let the Palestinians tell us if they think the editorial is patronizing. Noam is a little too quick to criticize the “left Zionists” and hold them in purist New Leftist contempt.

      Reply to Comment
    4. XYZ

      This is the latest attempt in the effort to create a bloc that unites the “secular Ashkenazi Left” which is in demographic decline, with the Arab population which is still growing, although at a considerably lower rate than in the past. Ha’aretz, the main newspaper for that formerly ruling group in Israel, believes that having a common enemy in the Israeli political Right, will be the basis for a joint political platform. Although Ha’aretz supports creation of Palestinians state and the removal of the Jewish settlements, which the Israeli Arabs do as well, I believe the divergence in their interests outweigh these common interests. I hope some Arab readers would tell us what they think of this.

      Reply to Comment
    5. anonymous moose

      I assume the goal of this Haaretz editorial is to achieve something akin to what JKF achieved in the 1960 elections when he won the black vote by actively appealing to the African American voting population. I’m not saying it’s the full-fledged deal, but I assume the logic is the same, and despite seeming patronizing and somewhat ‘off’, I’d say that if it helps, it was worth it.

      Reply to Comment
      • Carl

        Presuming Haaretz is running for president but forgot to mention it in the article, yes.

        Reply to Comment
    6. Danny

      “This feels more like an order than a request; it is an act that replicates everything that was so horribly wrong with the way the Zionist left looks upon the Palestinians – as a tool in achieving its own ambitions.”
      The main sufferers of the low Arab election turnout, are the Arabs. Since they are about 20% of the population, their representation in the knesset should be around 25 seats (assuming they steer clear of Labour this time). If they were really smart, they would vote their size and demand their representatives to form a shadow parliament that would gain much international publicity to the plight of Israel’s Arab citizens.
      But the Arabs don’t vote their size, and allow Israel to continue to screw them.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Kolumn9

      Oh whatever. If the editorial staff of Haaretz published this in Arab newspapers you would attack them for being condescending and presuming that liberal Jews know better what is best for the Arabs than the writers at the Arab newspapers. Come on, be honest, you know you would…

      Reply to Comment
      • Paul J

        I have to agree with Kolumn9.

        Noam your whole article is a tad churlish in the context of all other issues that could be written about.

        I’m afraid to say it reads as if you sat down and thought very hard how to “clever” in ideologically attacking this Haaretz editorial. (from a purest holier than thou left perspective).

        Reply to Comment
    8. The assumption that if only more Arabs voted, Israel would be “saved” is only true in theory. A closer look at the numbers shows that the truth is more complex.

      First, if in the last election approx 65% Israeli Jews voted, and approx 54% of Israeli Arabs voted. If Israel Arabs had voted in the same percentages as Israeli Jews, that would only increase their vote by 20% – which corresponds to roughly 4 Knesset seats.

      Second it is clear that not all Israeli Arabs vote for “Arab Parties”, nor do they all vote for parties of the “left”. Based on their actual percentage of the vote in the last election they elected 18 MKs. But only 11 of them went to ‘Arab parties”. Seven seats, or about roughly 39% went to other parties. It is not clear – at least to me – where all these went. A detailed analysis of the last election (I can’t remember where I read this) showed that Shas received 1.5 seats from the Arabs sector!

      Third, lets say that Balad, Hadash, and Raam-Taal received 3 additional seats among them, and that this denied the right/religious block 61 seats. Do you really think that someone could cobble together a coalition that included all the centre & left & the three Arab parties?

      Reply to Comment
    9. Elections are a form of intergroup competition of two kinds: mobilization of supports by label; and suppressing mobilization by rivals. One way to do the latter is instill an everyday regime of ineffectuality, where what one does doesn’t matter, socio-politically, so why bother believing in the vote. The US once had poll taxes (not the UK kind, but a tax to vote) and literacy tests; and many States in the US deny the vote to felons, which tend to be minorities–more, sometimes nonfelons are identified as felons, as happened in Florida in 2000.

      Without an active civil rights stand I suspect the Arab Israeli vote will remain suppressed. Recall that their view of the Nazereth 13 is rather different than that of the apathetic dominant culture/media. Actually, I’m surprised this group polled at 54% last.

      The parliamentary list system has effectively emasculated this structural minority. In a highly split election an Arab party could turn the trick; but would any other party try the gambit?

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >…I suspect the Arab Israeli vote will remain suppressed.

        WTF are you talking about? How exactly Arab Israeli vote is suppressed?

        Israeli Arabs are not voting Arab parties simply because they know their leaders too well and have no trust in them.

        Reply to Comment
    10. Mikhael

      The headline is wrong. It’s directed at Arab citizens of Israel; not “Palestinian” citizens. If they are “1Palestinians,” then they are not Israeli, and then they can’t vote. “Palestine” ceased to exist as a geopolitical entity in 1948, its citizens, Jewish and Arab, became Israelis and Jordanians (or were stateless refugees in Egyptian-occupied Gaza or other Arab countries, or became citizens of Western countries). Residents of the Palestinian Authority may be Palestinian citizens, but they certainly cannot vote in Israeli elections. It’s ironic that an article that condemns Haaretz for condescension towards Israel’s non-Jewish Arabic-speaking minority of citizens insists on foisting a “Palestinian” national identity on them that is not universally embraced by all of them. “Israeli Arabs” or “Arab citizens of Israel” is the more accurate and neutral term.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Mikhael

      And a lot of the Arab vote goes to “Jewish” and even “Zionist” parties, not only Meretz, but Labour and even Likud and Shas.

      Even Naftali Bennett is getting some of the Arab vote.

      Reply to Comment

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