Introduction to the Joint Arab List

An introductory UK Task Force peula on Arab politics in Israel

Group size: 30
Age range: 16-25 year olds
Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes

(all time scales can be slightly increased or reduced to allow for more or less discussion)
There are several narratives making the headlines following the March 2015 Israeli National Elections, and one that has done so is the gaining of 13 seats by the Joint List between the four Arab parties. Their unprecedented pooling of electoral resources reinvigorated interest among the Arab electorate, as they may feel they have a chance to affect change as the third biggest party in parliament. This peula takes an analytical and interactive look at why this has happened, whether it will be sustainable and what the outcomes have been so far.

Aims

  1. To introduce the electoral significance of the Joint Arab List at the last elections
  2. To educate about the reasons why Arab political parties formed a joint list
  3. To find out what the Joint Arab List has done in Knesset so far, and to understand their place in the Israeli political system

Trigger (10 minutes)

  • Innovative group split to get them into the 4 different Arab parties
  • Once they are in 4 groups, they are told the news:
    CRISIS TALKS: "The Knesset has raised the electoral threshold from 2% to 3.25%, so none of you might get any representation in parliament on your own."
  • Electoral thresholds in other nations quiz:
    Sweden? 4%. New Zealand? 5%. Italy? 4%. Poland? 5% (but this threshold doesn't apply to national ethnic minority groups in Poland). So does it makes sense?
    • Israel's electoral threshold is comparable to many other western representative democracies, but Israel's situation, in which the national Arab minority forms over one-fifth of the population, is relatively unqiue. Poland also has national minorities, but its electoral threshold specifically does not apply to them.
  • What does this mean? A joint list may be necessary or these parties may be left out of Israeli politics.


Main (45 minutes)

Part 1 - Forming the Joint List (10 minutes)

  • Groups need to look at the sources to analyse their previous governmental successes, specific characters, voters and ideologies.
  • Devise a plan to promote their party's interests, what they'll accept, what they want to change in Israel, what their aims in parliament will be.
  • Explain that despite differences, these were put aside in favour of joining.

Part 2 - The election (20 minutes)

Madrichim give the following information to chanichim (5 minutes)
  • Came away with 13 seats - record number for Arab party MKs in Knesset.
  • Immediately ruled out being in a coalition with Zionist parties.
  • Galvinisation of Arab voters as they realised they may be able to affect change with voter turnout amongst Arabs up from 56% to 64% - close to national average.
  • However, some disillusionment of Arab voters as they have to put aside civic gripes and are effectively devoid of choice.
  • Notable comment from Netanyahu on election day - "The Arabs are voting in droves".
Voter turnout analysis and confidence from Arab population (15 minutes)
  • Around the room are placed 10 different Arab citizens. Go around, read their bio and tick in each whether you think they voted Arab list, vote someone else, or not turn up to vote at all, to judge possible confidence in the Joint List affecting change.
  • Following this we'll find out the voter turnout and how many Arab citizens voted for the Joint Arab List.

Sikkum (20 minutes)

The aftermath of the election - outcomes so far

Compare results using our model and reality:
  • The Joint Arab List were not invited into a coalition.
  • Forming the Joint Arab List had no effect on Netanyahu forming a government.
  • Forming the Joint Arab List resulted in a large increase in Arab turnout.
  • Forming the Joint Arab List was seen to offer a chance to affect great change, and if nothing happens could result in disillusionment of Arab citizens in participating in Israeli democracy

Go back to the original party talks and initiate debate about what parties might want now. Work out if the parties can come to agreements and use their joint seat numbers to actually affect change.



Notes

2003 - 7.32% total (8 seats)
2006 - 8.06% total (10 seats)
2009 - 9.18% total (11 seats)
2013 - 9.20% total (11 seats)

In 2013, 77% of Arab voters chose to vote for Arab parties, and 23% of Arab voters selected Jewish parties.



Resource List

  • 8x printouts of each of the political party information sheets
  • 8x A3 paper
  • 8x marker pens
  • 1x printouts of 10 Arab citizen biographies
  • 10x biro pens