Since the 2006 elections, the city of Rehovot has been recognized popularly as Israel’s Ohio – the way Rehovot votes so does the nation. And it’s not just the results, which should be astonishing enough: in the 2015 national elections 71% of Rehovot’s eligible voters showed up at the polls – exactly the same as the country’s aggregate figure.
This year, a sample vote project was conducted—on Thursday this week—by FM station BE106 in a local shopping mall, and Rehovotanians, filled with a sense of national responsibility that easily matches New Hampshire’s, showed up in great numbers to predict, groundhog fashion, next Tuesday’s election results.
According to one of Israel’s polling gurus, Prof. Camille Fuchs, who oracles for channel 13, “It’s not a fairy tale, it’s true.” Rehovot really is Ohio-like. Fuchs cited the 2015 election campaign, where the Likud received 26% of the national results and 27% in Rehovot. The Zionist Camp received 21%, both nationally and in Rehovot. Yesh Atid received 10% nationally and 12% in Rehovot. The only results Rehovot missed were Shas and United Torah Judaism, possibly because their Haredi voters are not represented proportionately there as do all the other population groups in Israel.
Rehovot is a city in the Central District of Israel, about 12 miles southeast of Tel Aviv. In 2017, it had a population of 138,379. It was established in 1890 by Polish Jewish immigrants of the First Aliyah on the coastal plain near a site called Khirbat Deiran, which now lies in the center of the city. Between 1914 and 1991, the local population rose from 955 to 81,000 (it is about 140,000 today), and the area of the town more than doubled. The city is home to the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Faculty of Agriculture of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Peres Academic Center College. The Kaplan Medical Center is an ancillary teaching hospital for the Medical School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
And so, having introduced you to the Columbus, Ohio of Israel, here are the results of yesterday’s sample vote, please take it with the appropriate grain of salt, in fact, use a few grains of salt, I know we do – we copied the results in percentages as well as the number of Knesset seats that go along with them, get ready to drop your jaw.
Now, remember, these are not the election results in Rehovot – those are expected to match the national score as they always do. The results we copied here from the FM station BE106 website are more the wishful thinking of the good folks who showed up to participate in the sample – which is not at all the same thing. You’ll note, for instance, that no Arabs made it into the Knesset in this one, and that Gal Hirsch, who is not even a beep on the electoral radar map, but lives next door to Rehovot, in Rosh Ha’Ayin, collected a whopping 5%, equal to 6 Knesset seats. So there has been some ballot stuffing in this Rehovot mall.
But the top 4 parties in the sample are thought provoking:
Netanyahu’s Likud 31%, equal to a little more than 37 seats
Gantz’s Blue and White 21%, yielding a little more than 25 seats
Feiglin’s Zehut 16%, sweeping in a little more than 19 seats
Smotrich’s Right-Wing Union 6%, or a tad more than 7 seats.
According to Israeli law, Friday afternoon is the last time local media are allowed to publish election polls. From this point on, the only poll we’ll get to watch will be available some time Tuesday night, when the various outlets call the elections, or on Wednesday morning, when the actual results are published.
To all our readers, have a lovely Shabbat, and come Tuesday, if you happen to be an eligible voter, do exercise your democratic right, at least once.