Seeking ties, Arab-majority party launches Yiddish, Amharic, Russian campaigns
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Seeking ties, Arab-majority party launches Yiddish, Amharic, Russian campaigns

Joint List tries to build solidarity with Jewish ‘marginalized communities,’ with multi-language posters appealing to ultra-Orthodox, Ethiopian-origin and Russian-speaking Israelis

A Joint List campaign poster put up February 16, 2020, in Bnei Brak, saying in Yiddish: "Your vote against the enlistment decree." (Joint List)
A Joint List campaign poster put up February 16, 2020, in Bnei Brak, saying in Yiddish: "Your vote against the enlistment decree." (Joint List)

The predominantly Arab Joint List Knesset party on Sunday launched a unique campaign in Yiddish, seeking to promote solidarity between Arab Israelis and the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

It is one of several campaign messages that are directed at specific Jewish communities in Israel, with the stated goal of “breaking the walls separating all the state’s citizens” and perhaps winning some unlikely extra votes along the way.

The Joint List put up the posters Sunday in ultra-Orthodox areas, including in the cities of Bnei Brak and Beit Shemesh. In Yiddish, the signs say: “Your vote against the enlistment decree.”

In Haredi circles, the word “decree” has the connotation of a draconian measure imposed on religious Jews by a hostile leadership. That term is commonly used by some extremist ultra-Orthodox groups to describe Knesset laws regulating the enlistment of yeshiva students to the military — which is opposed by most of the ultra-Orthodox community.

Opposition to military service is shared by many in the Arab and ultra-Orthodox communities, with the campaign message intending to capitalize on that link.

A Joint List campaign poster put up February 16, 2020, in the city of Rehovot, saying in Amharic: “Your vote against police brutality.” (Joint List)

Another campaign message, in Hebrew and Amharic, was put up in areas including the cities of Petah Tikva and Rehovot, where many Ethiopian Israelis live.

That message, “Your vote against police brutality,” refers to the experience shared by many Arab and Ethiopian-origin Israelis of discriminatory treatment by police officers, which has fueled angry protests by both communities in recent months.

A Joint List campaign poster put up February 16, 2020, in the city of Bat Yam, saying in Russian: “Your vote for equality and civil rights.” (Joint List)

In places including the city of Bat Yam, which has a large portion of Russian-speaking immigrants, signs in Hebrew and Russian said, “Your vote for equality and civil rights.”

Many Russian immigrants who moved to Israel in accordance with the Law of Return, which allows anyone with a Jewish grandparent to immigrate, are nevertheless not recognized as Jewish by the state’s Chief Rabbinate. They are therefore not allowed to be listed as married in a Jewish wedding, and as a result many complain of being discriminated against in various circumstances.

“Incitement is the right wing’s biggest achievement — and the real victory will come when we break the walls separating all the state’s citizens,” the Joint List said in reaction to a report on the campaign by the Yedioth Ahronoth daily. “The Joint List will promote the interests of the Arab society and of all marginalized communities.”

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