In the March 17 Israeli general elections, the Arab vote may, for the first time ever, have a decisive role in cobbling together the new government. The joint Arab slate, announced on Jan. 23, is expected to garner 11-13 seats, recent polls indicate, thus poised to become the fourth-largest party in the Knesset. No longer are we talking about slivers of parties but rather about a party with clout and influence, provided that its members succeed in remaining united after the elections.
But as reported on Jan. 22, quite a few traditional voters — the hard core of the Arab parties — argue that they will find it hard to vote for a joint slate pieced together from all the Arab parties. They will have a hard time voting for a slate that has no ideological outlook and that blurs the difference between the various streams in the Arab street. They believe this homogeneity to be bogus and contrived and based solely on their being Arabs. Hadash Party voters, for instance, who are basically Marxist Communists, will find it difficult to cast a vote for their opponents from the Islamic Movement or Balad (National Democratic Alliance) Party, whose members are anathema to them.