Israeli Arabs Experience a Political Awakening ; Alliance of Small Parties Could Prove to Be Pivotal in Voting Set for Today

By Hadid, Diaa | International New York Times, March 17, 2015 | Go to article overview

Israeli Arabs Experience a Political Awakening ; Alliance of Small Parties Could Prove to Be Pivotal in Voting Set for Today


Hadid, Diaa, International New York Times


The formation of the alliance has energized many of Israel's 1.7 million Arab citizens heading into the elections on Tuesday.

CORRECTION APPENDED

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's nationalist foreign minister, stared coolly at the Arab politician sitting at the opposite end of a glass table during a televised election debate.

"Why did you come to this studio, why not to Gaza, or Ramallah? Why are you even here?" asked Mr. Lieberman, who frequently calls Israel's Arab citizens traitors and suggests that their towns be transferred to Palestinian control. "You are not wanted here; you are a Palestinian citizen."

The politician, Ayman Odeh, the leader of an alliance of Arab parties formed to contest Israeli elections on Tuesday, appeared unruffled.

"I am very welcome in my homeland," he said, a subtle dig at Mr. Lieberman, an immigrant from the former Soviet republic of Moldova. "I am part of the nature, the surroundings, the landscape," he said in Arabic-accented Hebrew.

The clash in late February on Israel's popular Channel 2, during the only debate of the election season, was a sideshow to the larger electoral struggle unfolding between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief challenger, Isaac Herzog. Neither Mr. Netanyahu nor Mr. Herzog appeared at the debate. But it was a breakthrough moment for Mr. Odeh, 40, a little-known lawyer from Haifa who has never served in Parliament yet is suddenly poised to be a power broker in the formation of Israel's next government.

It was Mr. Lieberman himself who inadvertently helped set in motion a political awakening of Arabs in Israel this election year. Legislation he championed to raise the percentage of votes required to enter Parliament threatened the survival of four small Arab parties, so they decided to unite after years of refusing to do so.

The move has energized many of Israel's 1.7 million Arab citizens, whose participation rate in elections had been declining as the parties they supported drifted under fractured leadership and hostile right-wing governments.

Now, polls cited by the Israeli news media suggest the Arab alliance is likely to become the third-largest faction in Parliament with 13 of its 120 seats, potentially preventing Mr. Netanyahu from cobbling together the 61 seats he needs to form a coalition and stay in power. The same polls show that Mr. Lieberman may have more trouble getting his own Yisrael Beiteinu party across the 3.25 percent threshold he designed.

"The magic turned on the magician," said Joseph Shakkour, a 25- year-old student and campaign worker for the Joint List, as the Arab alliance is known, using an Arab saying to describe someone getting a taste of his or her own medicine.

Unlike Arabs in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and most Arab residents of East Jerusalem, Palestinian citizens of Israel have full voting rights. But their turnout in elections has long been lower than that of Israel's Jews -- 56 percent against 68 percent in the 2013 election.

Mr. Odeh has changed the tone of Arab politics with a vow to work with Jewish allies to achieve equality for his community. Arab citizens of Israel have long lagged Israeli Jews in education, employment in Civil Service jobs, access to transportation and land allocations. His position is a striking change from incumbent lawmakers like Haneen Zoabi, whose strident Palestinian nationalism has alienated mainstream political parties and ordinary Israelis.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Odeh invokes the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and quotes Palestinian poetry as he preaches coexistence with the Jewish majority. "We want to throw our weight as a people into politics. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Israeli Arabs Experience a Political Awakening ; Alliance of Small Parties Could Prove to Be Pivotal in Voting Set for Today
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.