Friday, January 11, 2013

Angry Israelis ask Palestinians who they should vote for

As Israeli right-wing nationalist/religious parties try to outdo each other in their reactionary appeal in the run up to this month’s general election, a remarkable online action is offering Palestinians in the Occupied Territories a proxy “vote”.

On a Facebook community called Real Democracy, disillusioned Israeli citizens are offering their votes to Palestinians on the West Bank who live under military law and have no say in their future. They have agreed to take instructions from Palestinians who respond as to how they should vote on February 22.

Earlier today, Shahaf Weisbein wrote: “I am an Israeli citizen and have the right to vote. Acknowledging the fact that millions of Palestinians are affected directly the decisions and acts of the government I am given the ‘opportunity’ to choose, I hereby give my vote to any Palestinian who wishes to use it. This is not a democracy, it is an apartheid regime.”

Mousa Maria replied to her: “Just this month, 25 people were arrested in my village by the Israeli army for participating in non-violent demonstrations… We are not anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish. We only oppose the policies of the Israeli government. Our goal is to free our land, from settlers and soldiers. Our goal is freedom.”

There’s an anonymous message from a serving Israeli soldier, who came to Israel from Texas three years ago as a committed Zionist. The soldier says her views have “changed dramatically and is supporting the campaign.                        

Bassam Aramin, who lives in East Jerusalem, tells Ofer Neiman that he is a bereaved father, his 10-year-old daughter having been killed by an Israeli soldier in 2007. He says Neiman should use his vote in favour of the left-wing Hadash Party.

East Jerusalem and the West Bank now have an estimated 500,000 Israeli settlers, as a result of the illegal construction programme pursued by successive governments. Their very existence has made it impossible to continue with the so-called peace negotiations, which have been stalled since 2010.

Politically, it looks likely to get a whole lot worse inside Israel itself. Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government has accelerated settlement building and launched repeated attacks on Gaza, is now facing an even more right-wing opponent in the shape of Naftali Bennett. This millionaire, ex-commando favours outright annexation of large parts of the West Bank.
Polls show that Bennett's far-right, Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) will finish third in the parliamentary election and have to be included in any future coalition. He has dismissed as a “dead end” efforts to achieve a two-state solution.

His party is cashing in on the widely-held view that there is no apparent solution to the conflict with the Palestinians. This is actually the case as far as the Zionist political elite is concenred. It is determined to give nothing at all when it comes to an independent Palestinian state.

However, there is also deep uncertainty about the direction Israel is heading in, with over half the electorate saying the country’s path is wrong. And, just as dramatically, an astounding 31% of voters remain undecided with two weeks to go to the election.  
The Israeli-Palestinian electoral rebellion launched last month being conducted through social media has over a 1,000 supporters and finds a growing response among the Palestinians. It neatly exposes the hollow claim that Israel is the “only democracy” in the Middle East simply by showing that oppressed and occupied Palestinians have no say in an election in which the main candidates have them in the firing line.

With the settlements in West Bank making it impossible to conceive of two states living side by side from a geographical yet alone political point of view, a bi-partisan single country where Israelis and all Palestinians have the vote must force itself on to the agenda sooner rather than later.

Paul Feldman
Communications editor

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