Netanyahu claims that more Arabs voted for him than Labor in the last election. That’s simply false.
Think Progress, the internet news arm of the Center for American Progress, fact-checked Netanyahu’s talk at the influential Democratic think-tank yesterday. They found no less than 10 problematic statements on “the big issues.” As many observers were quick to point out, the problem was that nobody at the event knew enough to directly challenge Netanyahu on his statements — many of them inaccurate, out of context, or completely false.
Here is a little something Think Progress missed: Netanyahu was asked about his infamous “Arabs on buses” remarks on election day, in which he tried — and succeeded — in scaring right-wing voters to go the polls. Netanyahu admitted the comments should never had been made in the first place, but only before he went on to celebrate his government record on advancing Palestinian citizens, noting that more Arabs voted for his Likud party than Labor, his primary contender in the elections.
“First of all you should know that Arabs voted for me, and I welcome that. In fact, you may check this but I think they voted for me in considerably larger numbers than they voted for the Labor Party,” Netanyahu told CAP President and event moderator Neera Tanden.
(Watch from 7:30 for Netanyahu’s comments on Arab voters)
This statement, however, is simply not true. While it’s impossible to know the exact numbers (some polls in the mixed cities have both Jewish and Palestinian voters), a survey of the Arab cities and villages in Israel shows Labor getting more than three times as many votes as Likud. In the two biggest Palestinian cities, Umm al-Fahm and Nazareth, for example, Labor got 869 and 69 votes,respectively, while Likud only got 343 and 21. According to this count by Neer Ilin, Labor got more votes than Likud in 117 out of 132 Arab towns and villages in Israel. While this doesn’t include mixed cities, we can assume that the votes follow a very similar pattern.
The following is a table of the 24 largest Arab towns or villages. Labor outperformed Likud in them all except one, which ended in a tie (if the Facebook embedding doesn’t work, use this link).
Likud actually performed miserably among Palestinian voters. While in the past hawkish coalition parties who helped local Arab leaders on civil, day-to-day issues were rewarded in the polls — in the nineties, it was said that Shas used to get almost a full Knesset seat from Arab voters alone — Likud received no more than a few thousands votes. To put things in perspective, the Joint List, the big winner among Palestinian voters, came close to half a million. Arab voters in Israel, it seems, know Netanyahu for who he is. Unfortunately there was nobody at CAP to call his bluff.