Israelis went to vote today in the truest democratic sense of the word. We chose from no less than 32 political parties (I think I even heard 34). You can’t say we aren’t diverse. We have several religious parties, several secular and even anti-religious parties. We have several Arab parties, nationalist parties – left wing and right wing. We have a party promoting the legalization of marijuana and parties that focus on social issues.
Someone asked me if Israelis were forced to vote or they had a choice…we so have a choice and we choose to vote. Pick your issue – and there is a party for you. Our government is formed by the party with the most votes – its leader will be our next prime minister. Of course. that isn’t a given. The President – mostly a figurehead, has the power to choose another party with less votes if he thinks they have a better chance of getting a majority of the other parties to agree.
This time, it is almost a foregone conclusion that Bibi Netanyahu will win big enough to remain in office. But it is also assumed he doesn’t have a chance of winning big enough not to have to deal with smaller parties. Some of the smallest parties may not cross the minimum two percent (two plus seats) threshold. It’s exciting; it’s fun – it’s Israel at its best. Today, people are urging each other to vote – no matter who – make your voice known.
I debated who to vote for – which party to support. Ideologically, I’m limited to about 2.5 parties. I came to Israel with the firm belief that Likud was Israel’s best choice. As soon as I moved to Israel, finally having the right to vote here – I joined the Likud party. Although technically, I left them a few years ago, they had long since abandoned their own mandate and beliefs. It is with great relief that I never even bothered thinking, never mind regretting, that I would not vote for Likud this time around.
Yesh Atid, run by Yair Lapid, is a party that I detest. I am smart enough to know that the anger I feel towards them is present at a level higher than they deserve. I was urged to listen to Yair Lapid speaking before an audience of Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Kiryat Ono. I found him insulting, patronizing and obnoxious. Oh, sure – he’s handsome and charismatic – but he is so filled with himself, it’s hard to see that Israel will ever have a greater place in his mind than his own opinions. No vote for Yesh Atid.
Shas is one of the Ultra-Orthodox parties that Yair Lapid detests – and his endless attacks added to the dirt of this election. Sadly, he isn’t completely wrong. Shas has engaged, once again, in a disgusting campaign of negativity. Their spiritual leader, a great rabbi whose words are often taken out of context…often speaks words that shouldn’t be said. Shas does some amazing things at the community level – if only they would spend more time promoting the good things they do rather than attacking others.
If I ever considered voting for them – which to be honest, I never have – two remarks would have cost them my vote this time around. The first was when Rav Ovadia Yosef said that if there is a forced draft – he would tell his followers to send their children out of Israel. This concept of not serving while benefiting from the state bothers me no end. His second comment was that those who support Bayit HaYehudi are not Jews. I don’t need Rav Yosef telling me who is a Jew but I’ve wasted enough time on a party known for its corruption and rationalizing political positions based on the money for which it can sell its support. No vote for Shas…
HaTnua (the Movement), Labor, Meretz, Kadima – I’ll throw them all together and I’ll throw them all out easily. They are, for the most part, ignorant or ridiculously naive when it comes to Israel’s position in the Middle East. They demand social justice but have no real platform and more – when they had power, the situation wasn’t any better so they have no right to claim they know how to improve the situation. As for security and Shaul Mofaz of Kadima, a former Chief of Staff of the army – I can only assume delusional is a better word for the weakness he would have us show to our enemies. Or, perhaps like the others, interest in his own sense of importance makes him willing to risk Israel’s future for political gain? Whatever the truth – no vote for these parties.Paula R. Stern