The Israelis who are giving their votes to Palestinians

The ‘Real Democracy’ campaign provides a platform for those living under Israeli rule without voting rights to cast a ballot on Tuesday. In the last elections many Palestinians asked their Israeli proxies to boycott the ballot box; this time they are largely supporting the Joint List.

Dozens of Israelis last week announced that they will give their votes in Tuesday’s elections to Palestinians in the occupied territories and asylum seekers. The “Real Democracy” campaign, launched by the One World movement, is intended to protest the fact that millions of people live under Israeli rule and are directly affected by the government’s policies — yet have no right to vote themselves.

The campaign’s Facebook page includes videos showing asylum seekers and Palestinians in the West Bank explaining why they are asking Israelis to give them their votes, as well as Israelis who accept their challenge. Dozens of Israelis have already either written on the page or sent private messages to the organizers, expressing their desire to give up their votes.

This is the second election in which the “Real Democracy” campaign has connected Israelis interested in abdicating their right to vote and those who are not allowed to vote (the 2013 election only included Palestinians). In the next elections, promise the organizers, Israelis will also be able to give their vote to Iranian citizens, who may come under Israeli attack, or to Filipinos, who are harmed by climate change that Israel is partially responsible for. The campaign is organized by “One World,” a movement that seeks to create a worldwide federal system, in which every global citizen has an equal voice in political and economic matters.

“People are donating their voice without knowing who they will be asked to vote for, although there aren’t many parties who care for Palestinians and African refugees,” explains Shimri Zameret, one of the campaign organizers. “In the last election, most of the Palestinians supported Hadash or boycotting, few supported Balad, Meretz and Ra’am-Ta’al. I boycotted the previous elections at the request of Palestinian from Hebron.”

“This time we are seeing a lot of Palestinians feeling excited about the Joint List, and far fewer are asking us to boycott,” says Zameret. “On the other hand, ever since the war there are more people who are even refusing to take part in the campaign, and are trying to distance themselves from Israel. Meretz and the Zionist Camp have also gotten some support from Palestinians and asylum seekers.”

“There is no real democracy here, since I don’t have freedom,” says Musa Abu-Maria, an activist in the popular struggle in the West Bank village Beit Ommar, in a video on the project page. “We need your votes to help us support peace, justice and security for both sides.” “I ran away from my country due to political persecution, and I have been here in Israel for the last seven years,” says Gabriel, an asylum seeker from Eritrea. “I am very influenced by the poor decisions of the government. Please give me your vote so that I can influence the decisions that affect my life.” Both Abu-Maria and Gabriel have received support from Israelis.

The origins of the World Federalist Movement, of which One World is part, began after World War II. Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King Jr. were supporters of the movement, as they believed that the only way to prevent global disasters was through granting equal power to every person, in the face of powerful states and international corporations who make drastic changes in the economy, climate and our quality of life.

“On one hand, the fact is that we do not actually control our lives, and many of the most important decisions that affect us are not made here. On the other hand, as citizens who live in a wealthy country, we have more power in the global system than others,” explains Zameret. “A lack of democracy on an international level is also one of the reasons that the occupations persists, or for the dictatorship in Eritrea, which causes many people to flee for Israel.”

Without the veto structure of the UN Security Council, Zameret continues, the international community would have a chance at ending the occupation. The goal of the movement, he says, “is to create a system in which every Israeli, Palestinian, Eritrean or Mexican can hold the same power.”

Giving up one’s vote is an act of disobedience or refusal, he adds. “As long as the right to vote is not granted to everyone, it is considered a privilege. I am giving up on that privilege.”

This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

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