The numbers are dire and it is not hard to understand why.
A new poll by the Abraham Fund Initiatives, an Israeli NGO working to promote coexistence and equality among Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel, reveals a startling decline in voter participation among Israel’s Arab minority. Seventy-five percent of the Arab population of 1.63 million participated in the 1999 election that swept Labor’s Ehud Barak to the premiership, the vast majority supporting the winning candidate. By the 2009 election of Benjamin Netanyahu—after the second Intifada, the killing of Arab protesters by the Israeli police in 2000, and wars in Lebanon and Gaza—participation plummeted 20 points to 53.4 percent.
The survey demonstrates that many Arab citizens, who together make up just over 20 percent of Israel’s population, are frustrated with pervasive inequality in Israeli society and feel that voting in the past has not translated into influence over government policy. Given the seeming inevitability of Netanyahu’s reelection on January 22, why would Arab citizens vote at all?
Read the full story from 2012 on The Daily Beast’s Open Zion blog.