Friday, December 26, 2008

Israeli Election Commission Rules:
Can't Lump "Arab Parties"

Well here is some good news and some bad news.

In my earlier post on the Israeli Elections I noted that all the Israeli election polls and media reports have only a single line item for the three "Arab Parties":

There are at least 3 "Arab" parties with realistic shots at obtaining Knesset seats, yet the Jewish Israeli media don't bother to distinguish between them. That attitude alone explains a lot about the Israel/Palestine mess. One of the "Arab" parties is Hadash - the Front for Democracy and Peace, dominated by the Israeli Communist Party. It runs a joint Jewish Arab list and has both Arab and Jewish representatives in the Knesset. Its candidate for mayor of Tel-Aviv came in 2nd in the recent municipal elections. (See my previous posting about the Tel Aviv municipal election.) I have several Israeli - Jewish - friends who vote Hadash. Yet it is lumped in with "Arab Parties."
The good news is that the head of the Israeli Election Commission, Supreme Court Justice Eliezer Rivlin, ordered, earlier this week, that the editors of Israel's newspapers, and the directors of Israel's radio and television must specify the names and projections of the individual parties currently lumped together as "Arab Parties". That is only right and fair in a democracy, and it recognizes that there not all Arabs are the same and that people might be interested in the relative strength of these outside-the-mainstream parties. (Collectively they will win about 8% of the vote and about 10 seats in the 120 seat Knesset.)

The bad news is that the article reporting on this in Haaretz (Hebrew edition), used the term Arab Parties three times without quotes (as well as once with quotes), and never does mention the names of the three parties involved, or that fact that one of them is not an Arab party at all, but a joint Jewish Arab party. The headline reads (my translation):

Head of the Election Commission: When reportin polls, the media must also give details of the Arab parties.

The ruling by Judge Eliezer Rivlin, came as a result of a compaint by Knesset Member Dov Chenin [a Jewish member of Hadash: the Front for Democracy and Peace, see picture to the right] Currently the three Arab parties are lumped together under the heading "Arab Parties".

Did no one at Haaretz see the irony of this headline?

For the record the three parties in question are:

  • Hadash - a Communist dominated coalition with a joint Arab-Jewish list, with 3 seats in the outgoing Knesset
  • Balad - an Arab Socialist nationalist party, with 3 seats in the outgoing Knesset
  • Raam-Taal - a coalition of conservative Arab nationalists and Islamists, with 4 seats in the outgoing Knesset.

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