Photo Courtesy of A. Daniel Roth, Tel Aviv (Copyright 2013)
Just over a week ago I voted for the first time in an Israeli election. If you didn’t know there were elections just over a week ago in Israel, you’re not alone.
Certainly, most people on earth were unaware. Probably most people from around the world who pay attention to Israeli politics were unaware. Actually, the majority of eligible voters were unaware. Maybe they weren’t unaware, maybe folks just weren’t interested. However, if you, like me, are into building a world of justice and peace, and the end of oppression it’s fairly important to be vocal about it.
It could be the fact that these were only municipal elections that made them so uninteresting. After all, these are the people who deal with the unimportant stuff such as water, health and safety, roads and public transportation, and (lack of) caring for refugees.
Unfortunately, just 42% of eligible voters took the time to vote for local leadership, though I have to wonder how many repeat voters that number includes. In Tel Aviv that number hit just over the 30% mark. Apparently, more people went to the Rihanna concert than voted for the runner-up in Tel Aviv.
The result is that most things stayed the same, for example a lot more women ran for office in these elections than in previous ones, but a great deal lost their races.
While the predominately Palestinian municipality of Sakhnin saw somewhere between 87 and 90% turnout,Jerusalem was a different story.
In Jerusalem the push by Palestinians in East Jerusalem, which is occupied under international law, who have the status of residents but not citizens, to boycott the election apparently led to less than 1% voter turnout, while fewer than 38% of the city went to vote.
In contrast to the local elections, nearly 70% of eligible voters cast ballots in the national elections that took place in January. Mind you, those same East Jerusalem Palestinians are not eligible to vote in national elections, nor are millions of others living under Israeli occupation and therefore Israeli control since 1967.
To be clear, I don’t think one must vote in elections. However, if one is opting out of electoral politics one must opt into revolutionary action, education, and/or advocacy. One who takes zero responsibility by doing neither is, in fact, at best supporting the misrepresentation (and often corruption) in the halls of power, but more probable is that inaction passively supports a plethora of oppression(s).
If we aren’t “voting in the streets” and we don’t vote in elections, we wind up voting for corrupt leadership with no responsibility to neither manage nor better the city (or country). Unfortunately, the “only democracy in theMiddle East” doesn’t seem to care too much about it.
A. Daniel Roth is an educator and journalist living in South Tel Aviv. He was born and raised in Toronto and lived in a commune of the Hashomer Hatzair movement in New York City. Daniel is a member of the All That’s Left collective and learner/organizer with This is Not an Ulpan. You can find more of his writing and photography at and @adanielroth.