Israeli Left Slams 'Jews Only' Election App

Perhaps the government hopes to discourage Arab citizens from voting by not offering the app in Arabic, suggests Meretz party chairwoman.

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Screenshot of the government's new Hebrew-only election app, "Behiron 2015."
Screenshot of the government's new Hebrew-only election app, "Behiron 2015." Credit: Courtesy of government's Memshal Zamin website.

Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon and anti-racist groups have slammed a new government election app, claiming that it excludes the Arab population and other communities in Israel because it is offered only in Hebrew. Project officials said that the application’s Arabic version would be released soon, but Galon inferred that the oversight was an intentional effort to discourage Israeli Arabs from voting.

The election app, “Behiron 2015,” was released on Monday by a branch of the Prime Minister’s Office called “memshal zamin” [accessible government] which disseminates online information to citizens. The android-supported Behiron 2015 offers information about the location of polling stations, voter turnout, and election results in real time.

“An application for Jews only – that’s not a startup?” Galon wrote on her Facebook page. “It seems so appropriate for our government, which released Behiron 2015, the state’s official election application, yesterday – but in Hebrew only and without an Arabic version. It is ridiculous that they need to be reminded that Arabic is an official state language.”

She added, “The truth is that this is an entirely rational measure by the government. Why would [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu want to help Arab citizens of Israel find the polling station closest to home if just yesterday he spoke about the danger of ‘massive attendance by Israel’s Arabs at the polls’?,” she wrote, referring to Likud’s claim that the anti– Netanyahu rally held in Tel Aviv Saturday night was a foreign funded effort aimed at increasing the Arab turnout. “Heaven forbid that they [Arab Israelis] should increase their voter turnout and help bring about a political turnover,” wrote Galon.

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