Voting box
Voting boxSraya Diamant/Flash90

An election conference, attended by 200 high school students, was held Monday in the Arab village of Kafr Qassem.

The event, which was held in collaboration with the school, opened with a greeting from Kafr Qassem Deputy Mayor Ryan Tae, and included a panel to which representatives from all parties running for the 23rd Knesset were invited.

Panel participants included MK Ram Ben Barak (Blue and White); MK Moshe Abutbol (Shas); Emily Moatti (Labor-Gesher-Meretz); and Iman Khatib (Joint Arab List).

Iman Khatib (Joint Arab List) addressed the students saying, "You are the proud future generation that Arab citizens are building on. You do not need to thank anyone for eating and drinking and working in your country and your homeland." Khatib noted that the Blue and White party opposes the Nationality Law, but offers no alternative: "Blue and White supported the 'Deal of the Century' and prevented the establishment of a subcommittee to eradicate violence and crime in our Knesset. Blue and White says it is for a Jewish state and for equality. Anyone who wants equality must support a country of all its citizens."

Muhammad Badir, 17, turned to the Blue & White representative and said: "Yair Lapid (Blue and White) said you want to form a government with the Jewish majority, you don't count us at all. How do you want us to vote for you?

Anjaram Amer, grade 11, also addressed MK Ram Ben-Barak: "You are two-faced, to us you bring messaging about our equality, but to the Jews you say something different - that you will not sit with Arabs."

In response, MK Ben-Barak said: "What Yair Lapid meant to say but phrased poorly, is that our government will sit with parties that accept Israel as a Jewish state. He did not mean a majority of Jews. Even when we talk about Jewish parties, there are party leaders that we are not prepared to accept. We would not sit with [Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar] Ben Gvir, although he leads a Jewish party; we are opposed to [Transportation Minister Bezalel] Smotrich's (Yamina) vision for the country. We believe in equality and we have no problem with Arab society, we have a big problem with those who head the parties and say they oppose a Jewish state."

MK Moshe Abutbol (Shas) said: "The state is investing a lot in the Arab sector. It is not enough - but for every success that exists we must say al-hamdilula [thank God]. If there is a hospital manager or a school principal - we must say 'Wonderful! This is a success of the State.' And those who don’t know how to say thank you – always remain stuck in the same situation."

Emilie Moatti (Labor-Gesher-Meretz), commented on this, saying: "The contract between State and citizen allows each person the right to demand their needs from the government. I don't think citizens should thank the government for being able to live a decent life. I don't think anyone is entitled to equality only because he is a doctor or a pharmacist or a lawyer - I think we are all entitled to equality. You don't have to thank anyone. I hope at the end of this tunnel a caring light awaits, and we all have better days."

The results of the mock election following the panel showed the Joint Arab List receiving 85% of votes, and Blue and White receiving 11% of votes.