During the recent Israeli election, a group of Israeli activists called attention to Palestinian statelessness by offering their votes to Palestinians living in the occupied territories.
Mel Frykberg, last updated: February 04, 2013
Inter Press Service
Unknown to the Israeli government or the Israeli electorate, hundreds of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza took part in the recent Israeli elections by default thanks to an act of civil disobedience by Israeli peace activists.
Real Democracy, an initiative comprising thousands of Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian Territories and Israelis, decided that the undemocratic nature of Israel and its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory needed to be challenged.
One month prior to the elections the Real Democracy rebellion started on a Palestinian-Israeli Facebook page. Thousands of Palestinians and Israelis joined the initiative.
More than a thousand Israelis decided to give up their votes to Palestinians from the occupied territories in an act of protest against what the participants saw as the undemocratic nature of the Israeli elections and the United Nations system. Shimri Zamaret, 27, an Israeli researcher from Warwick University in the UK, was one of the founders of the Real Democracy movement.
“The idea started in the UK when people there decided to give up their votes to people in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Ghana to protest the stranglehold of Western powers in the UN over less powerful countries,” Zamaret told IPS.
“We decided to start a similar movement in Israel and Palestine. Palestinians live under a double apartheid system. The Israeli Parliament and the UN are based on inequality between citizens – and are therefore undemocratic. The UN Security Council is dominated by the five superpowers which won World War Two and is totally unrepresentative of the international community today,” Zamaret told IPS.
“Israeli citizens elect a government that controls Palestinians, but Palestinians cannot vote and do not have an independent state,” said Zamaret who was jailed for two years as a conscientious objector for refusing to serve in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).
“Through the Israeli government (and the undemocratic Security Council), Israelis also have a de facto veto power over the UN Security Council system. Citizens do not have a direct voice in the United Nations, and the Palestinian government’s UN membership got vetoed,” said Zamaret.
“Palestinians therefore do not have any vote in the UN nor any control over their country. So undemocratic Israel’s monopoly of force is supported by undemocratic control over international institutions.”
Zamaret gave his vote to Omar Abu Rayan, a 19-year-old student from Hebron who ironically decided the best move was not to use the vote but to ‘boycott’ the Israeli elections altogether despite a long debate with Israelis over using ‘his’ vote to make a difference.
“I appreciate the move by the Israeli activists to give voteless Palestinians a voice in the Israeli elections but I don’t think this would have made any difference, it wouldn’t have changed anything on the street. The peace parties in Israel are too small and don’t have enough influence. The no vote was a protest vote,” Abu Rayan told IPS.
“We aren’t expecting the Real Democracy initiative to make a big difference. It’s a symbolic gesture and only relevant as part of a larger campaign to de-legitimise Israel on an international level,” said Israeli freelance translator Ofer Neiman, who also gave up his vote.
“What we wanted to do was make a noise about the occupation and the treatment of Palestinians. We have discrimination even within Israel against Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. Real Democracy is part of a broader international movement, specifically the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
“Most of the Israeli activists are involved in other activist movements and we all believe that only international pressure on Israel through sanctions will help bring about the end of the occupation,” Neiman, who was kicked out of the IDF for his left-wing political views and was monitored as a student at university for activism against the occupation, told IPS.
Neiman gave his vote to Bassam Aramin from the West Bank village of Anata. “I am a Palestinian citizen, I live in East Jerusalem. I am 44,” said Aramin.
“I am a bereaved father – my 10 year-old daughter Abir was killed by an Israeli soldier on the 16th Jan, 2007, but I have no control over the Israeli government who sent the soldier there. I live under occupation. We Palestinians have no vote or veto in the UN Security Council or the government that controls us. That’s undemocratic.”
Aramin asked Neiman to use his vote for the left-wing Israeli party Hadash even though he is not a supporter of the party.
Palestinian activist Musa Abu Maria, from Beit Omar in the southern West Bank, is also a member of Real Democracy. He used the vote he was given to vote for leftist Haneen Zoabi, one of the few Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset or parliament.
“Many of the Palestinians who took part in the initiative wanted to support the efforts of our Israeli colleagues,” Abu Maria told IPS.
Mel Frykberg is a contributor to Inter Press Service.
Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA and NSA, is an unabashed supporter of surveillance and torture policies, as well as a proponent of a hardline “pro-Israel” U.S. agenda in the Middle East. He says that it is “cool” that two years after the Snowden revelations, all the NSA has had to do is slightly reform its “little 215 program about American telephony metadata.”
Brigette Gabriel, a vitriolic anti-Muslim demagogue, claims that President Obama “cannot bring himself” to say “anything bad about Islam” because of his “beautiful childhood memories” of “praying just like Osama bin Laden prayed.” She ludicrously alleges that “180 million to 300 million” Muslims are “dedicated to the destruction of Western civilization.”
Max Boot, ardent neoconservative ideologue and official foreign policy advisor to the presidential campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), argues that in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks the U.S. should send “at least 20,000 personnel” to fight ISIS. He has also called for the U.S. government to unilaterally declare an autonomous Sunni region in Iraq, claiming this is “something that the U.S. can effectively guarantee even without Baghdad’s cooperation.”
Former CIA director James Woolsey, an unabashed neoconservative hardliner with deep ties to defense contractors, has helped spur misleading accusations that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is at least partly to blame for the terrorist attacks in Paris. “I think Snowden has blood on his hands from these killings in France,” he said in an interview.
Former CIA officer and Islamophobic activist Clare Lopez has claimed that members of the Muslim Brotherhood have infiltrated the U.S. government and shaped the Obama administration’s foreign policy towards the Middle East. “They’re very smart,” she has said of the alleged Muslim Brother operatives. “These guys are not camel-jockeys with towels on their heads.”
For media inquiries,
or call 202-234-9382.
November 20, 2015
Much of the Islamophobia running through the right now originated from hardline “pro-Israel” circles.
November 19, 2015
Elliott Abrams, convicted for lying before Congress during the Reagan years, has willfully misinterpreted President Obama’s recent comments on refugees in order to repeat the far-right cliché that the president is anti-Christian.
November 19, 2015
The large quantitative and qualitative disparity in the media’s coverage of the terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut cannot be justified.
November 18, 2015
In the wake of the Paris attacks, prominent neoconservative Max Boot has breathlessly called for the United States to unilaterally support Sunni autonomy in Iraq and deploy 20,000 U.S. troops against ISIS.
November 12, 2015
The claims made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his presentation at the Center for American Progress have been thoroughly debunked.
November 10, 2015
Just days before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sat down with President Obama in the Oval Office, Israel approved new settlements in West Bank, a move that directly runs counter to U.S. national security interests.
November 10, 2015
The Democratic Party-aligned Center for American Progress has controversially hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his stay in Washington.