Why Israel's Arabs stayed away on Election Day
Opinion: The meager turnout by members of the country's largest minority group is an indictment of the way in which they have been treated by Netanyahu and his clones running against him, who were clearly terrified at the prospect of making a 'deal' with the Arab parties
Israel's Arabs, early analysis shows, did not vote this year. They rarely do. But still it seems this time, they stayed away in even greater numbers.
This is a reaction to Benjamin Netanyahu and his campaign to delegitimize Arab citizens of Israel. It is also a reaction to Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid, Avi Gabbay and other political leaders who adopted Netanyahu's ideology while managing to stay clear of his rhetoric.
Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid denied making any "deal" with the Arab parties, as if the mere suggestion they may join forces in government with Arabs is reason enough to disqualify them.
Gabbay remembered his Arab members, as well as his Mizrahi roots only after polls showed the Labor Party was set to crash and burn.
What unites these three leaders and the big names they've signed on to their parties, is that all of them, with no exception fear the term "Arab" and are not inclined to join their own reputations to it.
This contempt reached a peak on Election Day, but it was clearly evident at every turn leading up to the vote - starting with Netanyahu's clip posted during the 2015 elections warning of Arabs flocking to the polls, through to the Nation-State Law stripping Arabic of its official language status.
Arabs have been consistently driven away from the political discourse for years, their elected representatives demonized and their language marginalized.
The Arab citizens of Israel reacted by rejecting Netanyahu and his ideology, which has spread beyond his Likud party.
While Netanyahu invoked a cry of panic to mobilize his voters, it was a day of panic for the Arab parties as well.
Long-time political parties shed their 13 seats and disappeared around the minimum threshold mark. Arab voters can be blamed for that and for the few Arab members of Knesset who will serve, but their protest was not aimed at their leaders.
This election campaign in its entirety, treated Arab voters with disdain and contempt and on Election Day those Arab voters threw their own disdain right back, pehaps perpetuating their inability to Influence the election of a prime minister.
Netanyahu's most fierce opponents during this election cycle were clones of himself, and I think they too would agree, that if we are to be left with a Netanyahu figure in charge, it may as well be the original