A Modest Post-election Perspective

For what it’s worth. Here’s my take –
I have read with interest people’s reactions on Facebook today. There was a lot of emotion there. I had a meeting in Haifa today so I spent a good amount of time listening to the radio pundits and MKs recapping the election and making further prediction. There were a lot of intelligent commentary there that made me see things in many different ways.
My disclaimer: I am not a political animal. I am not afraid to express my political opinions but I also don’t feel the need to wear them as a badge. I feel myself on the forefront of many battles as a Reform Rabbi in Israel which is fine. But when it comes to elections, I like to make an informed decision but I will admit that I am not an active campaigner for any particular party. For me it’s too much sloganism and endless chatter and WORD games. I am a very tachlis (pragmatic) person by nature.
Two things which are important to know about Israeli politics: Here, politics is most certainly personal. The decisions of any given government most certainly do affect every single person’s life here. Whether it is entering into a mini-war with our closest terrorist neighbors. Or dividing the budget pie let’s say on education – my children now get free education from age three (7:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. six days a week) but the national religious public schools get a much bigger piece of the budget pie than my kids regular secular public schools.
Some takeaways from this election:
• Get to know the voters of Israel. Approximate percentages: 23% of the Israeli population voted for the Likud. The right wing national parties altogether got 34%. The Zionist Camp got 18%. The left wing altogether got 34%. The middle ground parties got 16%. The Ultra Orthodox parties got 11%. Our leaders are not the country. The people who vote for them are the country. Let’s get out there and understand who are the people who vote for Likud and who are the people who vote for Labor.
• There are different ways to vote in Israel. You can vote ideologically – vote with the party whose platform most fits your world view. You can also vote strategically — with the high number of parties, you are thinking how to most make your vote count by whom you choose.
• Likud went up from 20 seats to 30 seats. Labor/the Zionist Camp went up from 15 to 24 (or up from 21, if you count also the seats of Tzipi Livni’s The Movement. The losers it seems, are the middle-sized parties – Yesh Atid went down from 19 to 11. The Jewish Home went down from 12 to 8. Shas went down from 11 to 7. And everyone is trying to ignore the 13 seats that the Unified Arab ticket received. Each seat is about 26,000 voters.
• I understand it thus – Israelis still represent a wide political spectrum. There remains much to be seen in the coalition building which is to be done in the next few weeks, the deals that will be made, concessions, and I believe there are more surprises to come.
• I understand the fears that were played upon, especially in the home stretch of the campaigns. Many Israelis are existentially afraid. Remember – less than 75 years ago, 6 million of us were exterminated. Every year or so a chunk of the population spends a significant amount of time in bomb shelters. The reports from Europe are not promising. Many feel that the world is against Israel (not connected to the policy of any Israeli government). In a way, much of this is true. BUT, we are mistaken to let fear be our guide in making decisions that will decide the fate of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. I am saddened and disgusted by the use of fear that inflames racism and panic. Fear mongering is not leadership.
• The Israeli population is extremely diverse. Just within the Jewish population, there are a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, each with its own story and concerns. In a Jewish society there are rich Jews and poor Jews. There are natives and there are immigrants.
• In our tiny country, each and every vote counts. Each and every person counts. We all need to make noise. We need to reach out to each other. We need to understand each other. We need to talk together about how we are going to make this place better for ourselves and for our children. We must understand that disagreement is a part of life. For every winner there is a loser. We must ensure that our leaders are always sanctifying life. We must hold them responsible. They will do their job better if we do ours.

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3 Responses to “A Modest Post-election Perspective”

  1. Stacey Shubitz Says:

    Leave it to you, my favorite rabbi and dear friend, to recap the election results in a way that is far more beautiful and informative than the major news outlets. I feel much better informed after reading this. While CNN and MSNBC gave me the facts, they didn’t put the human face on the election, which you did. Thank you, as always, for your perspecitve.

  2. Stacey Shubitz Says:

    Oye. Perspective. I can spell. I promise.

  3. Never Give Up – Reflections on the Israeli Elections | RABBI SHARON SOBEL Says:

    […] A Modest Post-Election Perspective […]

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