Some 40 Arab political activists have received training in the United Stated from leftist and Jewish groups on how to become more “politically active and aggressive,” Channel One reported.
The activists, which include mayors, deputy mayors, and other officials in towns and villages across Israel, received training in how to “fight for their rights,” said members of the group.
Ibrahim Muassi, Deputy Mayor of the town of Baqa al-Gharbiyeh in central Israel, said that the group had “met with activists from many communities, including Hispanics and blacks, to learn about how they can attain their rights in democratic ways.”
Rihad Kabha, mayor of the village of Barta'a, said that “many doors were opened to us, and we learned how we can compete against the Jews and Israelis for money” from US government agencies and non-government organizations. The money, he said, “comes from all sorts of organizations – Democrats, Republicans, and other NGOs.”
Mohammed Darwashe, an official in the town of Givat Haviva, named two of those organizations. “We are getting support from two groups already, one run by an ex-Israel namde Moti Kahana, and another from a group called the Cohen Fund that supports many organizations in Israel that work for social justice.”
Others that the group met with include top advisors to President Barack Obama, who offered assistance in strategizing and organizing voters, the group said.
Members of the group, said Darwashe, are aware of the criticism being leveled at them in Israel, that they are receiving political assistance from foreign groups – which, if not illegal, is frowned on.
For that reason, he said, the group would not meet until after the elections, so that they could not be accused of using what they learned in the US to “throw” the current elections.
With that, Mahar Agbariyeh of Maale Iron in the lower Galilee, said, “we as public servants have the responsibility to ensure that residents vote so they can receive their full rights. The more people that vote the better.”
In its official campaign kickoff Wednesday night, officials of the Joint Arab List said that getting the Arab vote out was their main objective. “If the percentage of voters in the Arab sector was identical to that in the Jewish sector,” said MK Jamal Zahalka, “there would be 15 Arab MKs.”
American NGOs have been especially active in this election.
At a press conference several weeks ago, Likud MKs presented what they said was evidence of collusion by leftist group V15 with non-Israeli interests to swing the election toward Labor-Hatnua Chairpersons Yitzhak Herzog and Tzipi Livni, Netanyahu's rivals for the prime minister's seat.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said he would not investigate the V15 organization, based on a complaint by the Likud that the group is illegally funded by foreign organizations and agents.
Weinstein said that most of the activities listed in the Likud's complaints do not fall under the aegis of the law against foreign intervention in Israeli elections that the Likud cited in its complaint.