Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Should Palestinian citizens vote in Israel's parliamentary elections?

Nimer Sultany, The Electronic Intifada, 13 April 2009

(Nimer Sultany is a Palestinian citizen of Israel and a doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School. He is the editor of Citizens Without Citizenship, Israel and the Palestinian Minority 2003, and Israel and the Palestinian Minority 2004. )

"The recent Israeli elections witnessed a revival of the debate among the Palestinian citizens of Israel concerning the meaning of their participation, or the lack thereof, in the electoral process. The disqualification of Arab parties by the Knesset's Central Elections Committee and the subsequent reversal of the decision by Israel's high court led to two paradoxical results......

Thus, the moment in which boycott could become a serious and viable option is fast approaching, if the necessary preparations are made. Nonetheless, the boycott is not an end in itself and must not be used in the context of a feeling of resignation towards politics and the possibility of having an impact. Otherwise, it will be no more than another means of depriving the people of hope. We must distinguish between the tendency to retreat from politics and engage in self-interest at the personal level or that of the narrowly-defined group (such as the family, village or religious community), and between employing the boycott as a political weapon for achieving political goals. The boycott must be used in the context of empowerment....."

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