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Israeli Arabs voted in higher numbers this time than in the last election. This is good news. Here’s why.

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2015 at 10:46 am
Arab turnout at the polls this year was much higher than last election, and this is a good thing. (photo credit: Al-Arabiya)

Arab turnout at the polls this year was much higher than last election, and this is a good thing. (photo credit: Al-Arabiya)

(Central Israel) — Arab citizens of Israel turned out to the polls on March 17th in significantly higher numbers than in the previous election, according to research published today by the Jerusalem Post. Indeed, some 444,000 Israeli Arabs voted last week, compared to only 349,000 last time.

As a new citizen of Israel, I’m encouraged by this. Arabs are full-fledged citizens of the State of Israel. In this country, as in few others in the region, Arab citizens — along with Jewish citizens and all other citizens, regardless of their ethnicity or religion — have the legal right to vote and to be fully engaged in free and fair elections in every possible way.

This is good news. A democracy is healthier when everyone exercises their right not simply to vote, but also their right to speak out, to publish their views, to peaceably assemble, to choose their leaders and to influence public policy according to their own religious and political beliefs, morals and values.

True, the Israeli Arab parties are significantly out of the mainstream. Some of these parties advance Communist ideology, or Islamist views, or anti-Zionist nationalist views. Indeed, the Joint (Arab) List — which just won 13 seats in the Knesset — includes parties that advance each of these views. But that’s okay.

You don’t have to agree with their beliefs to support their right to hold and advance such views in a free and democratic society. Indeed, part of the beauty of truly free societies is that despite their various flaws, they respect and vigorously protect the right of people to hold and advance minority positions.

This isn’t happening in Syria or Iran or Saudi Arabia. But it’s happening in Israel, and it should be celebrated.

Excerpts from the Jerusalem Post article:

  • Israeli Arab voter turnout was 63.5 percent in the election compared to 56% in 2013, according to the Statnet research institute, which had predicted a 63.4% turnout prior to the election.
  • Yousef Makladeh, CEO of Statnet.co.il shared its research data and polling statistics prior to the election with The Jerusalem Post on Monday, which demonstrated that the polling company was surprisingly accurate in its pre-election polling.
  • Makledeh said that 82% of Israeli Arabs voted for Arab parties in the Joint (Arab) List compared to 77% who voted for Arab parties in 2013….
  • In 2013, the Arab parties together received 349,000 votes compared to 444,000 in this election, an increase of 27.3%….
  • The Joint List ended up with 13 seats in the Knesset.
  • Apart from the Joint List, Arab voters supported in descending order: the Zionist Union with 22.8% (25,806 votes), the Likud 15.3% (17,394), Yisrael Beytenu 13.7% (15,538), Kulanu 11.8% (13,432), Meretz 11.2% (12,752), Shas 8.8% (10,016), and Yesh Atid 4.1% (4,662).

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In meeting with Israeli Arab leaders, Netanyahu apologizes for comments that “hurt the Arab citizens.” Good. That was the right thing to do.

In Uncategorized on March 23, 2015 at 5:24 pm
Netanyahu meeting with Arab leaders on March 23, 2015.

Netanyahu meeting with Arab leaders on March 23, 2015.

Netanyahu-Arabs2(Central Israel) — During a meeting today with leaders from various Arab communities in Israel, newly-reelected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Israeli Arab citizens for comments he made on Election Day.

“I know the things I said several days ago offended some of Israel’s citizens, hurt the Arab citizens. I had no intention to hurt anyone and I am sorry if I did,” Netanyahu told the leaders. “My actions as prime minister, including the tremendous investment in minority sectors prove the opposite. I think, too, that we must never let anyone outside the state of Israel interfere with our democratic process….I see myself as the prime minister of each and every one of you, all the citizens of Israel, regardless of faith, ethnicity or gender. I see all citizens of Israel as partners in building a prosperous and secure state, a state for all its citizens.”

Good. That was the right thing to do. The PM was right to apologize. His remarks were insensitive and unhelpful. I would encourage him to be pro-active in the weeks and months to come in reaching out to Israeli Arab leaders, including them in his plans for the country, and continuing to invest in the economic growth, development and progress of Israeli Arab communities. As I noted yesterday on this blog, “Israeli Arabs are a vital part of our national culture and society. They are full-fledged citizens of the State of Israel and they should be honored and protected by our leaders, whatever their religious or political views.”

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“The Third Target” is #1 best-selling novel in Christian market for second month. Special simulcast event set for April 19th. Register today.

In Uncategorized on March 23, 2015 at 1:07 pm

TheThirdTargetThe Third Target — a new international political thriller about the threat ISIS poses to the U.S., Israel and Jordan — is the #1 best-selling novel in the Christian market in North America for the second month in a row.

The novel, which was released on January 6th, recently spent 7 weeks on the Publishers Weekly hardcover fiction best-seller list. It hit the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post best-seller lists, as well.

Amidst the barbaric attacks by ISIS jihadists across Iraq, Syria and North Africa, Christians throughout North America and around the world are asking many questions. Who is ISIS? What do they believe? What do they want? How serious is the threat to us? Is it true that genocidal conditions are emerging for Christians in the Middle East? And is there any good news? How can the Church advance the Gospel amongst Muslims?

In this context, I am pleased to announce that Tyndale House Publishers and I are partnering to present a special simulcast event on Sunday evening, April 19th, to answer these questions.

You, your small group, and/or your church — small, medium, or large — can register now to view the simulcast and to share the message with family, friends and neighbors.

Please go to the website to learn more, share this information with your pastor and with others, and then register today so you can be part of this timely event.

Thanks so much to everyone who is reading the book and telling their friends about it. Please continue to post your reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Good Reads, other online book sites and other social media sites, including at the “Epicenter Team” page on Facebook. Please also keep praying for the U.S. and our allies to develop a bold and decisive strategy to contain and then defeat ISIS, before these apocalyptic jihadists launch new and potentially catastrophic terror attacks.

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