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  • Why Palestinian citizens don't vote in Israeli elections

    Israeli society's neglect of the Arab community over the past 20 years has left many Arab citizens with feelings of antagonism or apathy towards the “only democracy in the Middle East.” By Thair Abu-Rass With the Knesset elections only a day away, speculation about the final outcome is at its peak. Most analysts agree that these elections are unpredictable, with the exception of two facts: Bibi Netanyahu will be elected as prime minister, and there will be a considerable boycott of the election among the Palestinian Arab community in Israel. A Haifa University study conducted last month claimed that only 50.7…

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  • Election punditry masks cynicism toward democratic change

    While pundits recycle the same stale political issues and celebrities take part in almost-satirical get-out-the-vote campaigns, beyond the façade of Israeli democracy, true change lies beyond the ballot box. By Fiona Wright Commentary on Israeli elections is stuck in a depressing stalemate that masks deep cynicism toward a democratic process few believe can bring real change. Election after election, pundits weigh in on minor political shifts to the right, the effects of the latest war or the inevitable question of Palestinian-Israeli citizens’ ambivalence towards the whole process. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. What is conspicuously under-analyzed, however,…

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  • Final Israeli elections poll: Netanyahu’s bloc with a clear majority

    The last polls ahead of Tuesday’s election have been published. Netanyahu’s Likud-Beitenu joint ticket could lose as many as eight seats, but the right-wing coalition he is projected to lead is still strong. Meretz is trending up, while Livni is losing support. We have updated out Poll Tracker with the surveys published over the weekend. Election laws forbid publishing polls in the days immediately prior to the vote, so this is likely the last round of numbers we will see from the various polling firms, at least publicly (the parties continue to conduct internal polls sometimes). This pie represents the…

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  • Future Member of Knesset for Jewish Home party: 'Dome of Rock doesn't belong there' (WATCH)

    I posted a video Friday showing Jeremy Gimpel, number 14 on Naftali Bennett's Jewish Home list to the next Knesset, talking about the Dome of Rock being "blown up." It wasn't a gaffe: Here is Gimpel explaining in a radio show why the Dome of Rock - the holiest site for Muslims in the land - simply "doesn't belong where it is." According to Gimpel, even God wanted us to realize this. Watch: Related WATCH: Candidate from Jewish Home party wants Dome of the Rock blown up +972 Magazine's Israeli election page

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  • Israelis cannot 'democratically' decide to continue the occupation

    The absence of the occupation - the single most important issue which dominates life of Jews and Palestinians in this country - from the Israeli election campaigns, reflects a national existential crisis, and could render the entire democratic process meaningless.  Israelis will go to the polls in four days to determine their future, along with that of several million Palestinians who are under Israeli control. This is the inherent paradox in the Israeli system: a majority voting again and again not to allow a very large minority to participate in its political system. One can view Israel as a democracy…

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  • Father who lost daughter in suicide attack to Israelis: Vote for peace

    I am voting, but I will not be endorsing any party in the upcoming elections (I wrote about for whom and how I think Israelis should vote here). Instead, I am posting a message that Rami Elhanan posted on his Facebook wall yesterday, beneath the pictures of his 14-year-old daughter who was killed in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem, and of Palestinian Abir Aramin, 10, who was shot to death by soldiers near her school. Today, 6 years ago, 10 years old Abir Aramin was murdered outside her school in Anata. Border police "fighter" shot a rubber bullet in her back,…

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  • Obama’s attack on Netanyahu could backfire at polls

    The irony: Sheldon Adelson’s Israel Hayom paper is quoting top Likud officials that accuse President Obama for trying to interfere with Israeli elections. A few weeks ago, a well-known Israeli politician visited one of the large daily newspapers. During a meeting there, this person discussed his meetings with a top-level official in the U.S. administration. “Do the Americans know that the window of opportunity to influence Israelis ends on January 22?” the politician was asked. The answer he gave was somewhat positive. It seems that the Israeli politician got it right: in an article for Bloomberg, Jewish-American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg…

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  • Solidarity, not directions: On Haaretz's Arabic editorial

    Earlier today I posted a short Item regarding today's Haaretz's editorial - urging Arabs to participate in the Israeli elections - which was printed in Arabic as well. I received a lot of responses (most of them negative), so I am posting here a translation of a longer explanation which I posted in Hebrew on my Facebook wall.  Even if the best of intentions were behind this editorial, it seems to me like a patronizing act which reflects many of the problems of the Israeli left. First, there is something absurd about making a plea to the Palestinians only when something…

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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…

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  • Campaign video decrying intermarriage is labeled racist

    With national elections less than two weeks away, political campaign videos are much in the news. A few days ago Noam Sheizaf wrote about the Balad party video that was banned, allegedly for mocking Hatikvah, the national anthem. Now Shas, the Mizrachi ultra-Orthodox party that is predominantly Moroccan, is getting some heat for a campaign video that some have decried as racist. In an image that Mordecai Richler and Philip Roth would recognize, the video shows a short, swarthy, curly-haired man standing next to a gorgeous, statuesque blonde under the huppah, or marriage canopy. Behind them stands a stern-looking security…

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  • Israeli elections round-up: Image of the next Netanyahu government emerges

    Recent attempts to form an 'anti-Bibi' bloc among the centrist parties may very well drive right-wing voters back to the prime minister's hands. One outcome of the unusually short election cycle that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu imposed on the Israeli political system – in an attempt to prevent any serious challenge to his position – is the rapid developments and changes we have been witnessing in the last few weeks. I will deal with some of those issues in this round up, but it is important to note first that nothing too major has actually happened: our poll tracker, which…

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  • Vote for Arab-Jewish parties, or don't vote at all

    Just as an American wouldn't imagine voting for a party that does not accept blacks, progressive Israelis should only consider voting for parties that challenge the separation between Palestinian and Jews. This is a translation, with minor changes, of my weekly column for Time Out Tel Aviv. The Hebrew original can be read here. A couple of weeks ago, the Knesset's Central Elections Committee forbade media outlets from referring to Hadash, Balad and Ra'am-Ta'al as "Arab parties" in their polling results, and called on outlets to refer to each party individually. Nobody would think to publish a poll in which…

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  • Right-wing leader Bennett: 'When Palestinians were climbing trees, we already had a Jewish state'

    Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Jewish Home party and the rising star of the right, is considered the new, modern and hospitable face of the hard right. His rise in the polls has won him international attention, and the New York Times has called him "the campaign’s most dynamic and influential factor." But underneath the smooth look there seems to be just plain old racism. Here is Bennett in a television debate in 2010 with Palestinian MK Ahmad Tibi. In the beginning, Tibi says that he sees a place for Jews ("but not settlers") in the future Palestinian State,…

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