Another Voice and the Israeli Elections - Part 1
The election of the twentieth Knesset (Israel’s parliament) and subsequently the next Prime Minister will be held on March 17th. The party that receives the most seats in the Knesset will choose who is included in the next government. As the time draws near, campaigns are getting more aggressive in order to influence voters and many people are wondering if their vote will make any significant difference.
Here is part 1 of a 3 part series, offering our bloggers’ thoughts on these upcoming elections:
Q: In less than two weeks, all of Israel will be heading for the polls, or at least they should be. Most likely, however, many will use the day to go on trips or shopping since it’s a paid public holiday, children are out of school, and public transport is operating.
Although it is a crucial time for Israel, many of us remain undecided as for whom to vote. Even if the political parties have a clear platform, we know that it is unlikely their views will be translated into action. One of the disadvantages of a coalition government is the compromise involved in its formation. Smaller parties traditionally wield much more power than their numbers would indicate. This is because to persuade them to join ranks and form a coalition many issues that were stated as strong, even non-negotiable, convictions become concessions in the game of gaining power.
In previous years, I have voted for smaller parties; like the party that represented Ethiopian rights or the party that represented the rights of the elderly. I came to realize that this was an exercise in futility since with one or two seats in Knesset, these small parties were essentially powerless. Voting is now becoming an exercise in strategy to keep the views I am firmly opposed to out of power, whether or not I agree with the platform of the party I’m voting for. At the national level, there is a severe leadership vacuum. Integrity is glaringly absent from the lives and track records of most of our parliamentarians. The strong voices are only loud to drown out any perceived opposition. Election promises and ideologies are regularly sacrificed on the altar of gaining power and position.
Government is meant to serve the people. This seems an absent value in the twenty-first century. Getting into government is about power broking. Staying in government in a coalition situation becomes a game of power politics where the agenda is rarely about service but rather about maintaining power and position.
Only the right to far right parties seem immovable in their commitments. These commitments include a Zionistic agenda of a “Jewish” state (population and property) before and above all other considerations. The frightening reality today is that these forces are growing in influence. With “enemies” on every border and in our midst, Jewish Israel will do most anything to maintain security and power.
Although the Arab population numbers approximately 20% of the country; in previous elections they have only had the equivalent of 10% of parliamentary seats. For the first time, this year the Arab parties have united and are hoping to gain a fairer representation. Unfortunately this means that radical elements from the Islamic extremes are included in the united party; making it difficult to think of casting my vote in solidarity with them. Their platform is clearly for equal rights for all citizens of the land and this is truly non-negotiable for them.
The election scene is beginning to look like a pastiche of disparate, conflicting elements. So, what’s this Jewish girl to do? Of course I’ll vote. I can’t imagine doing otherwise. For me, no vote is no voice. if I were not to vote, then by my convictions, I would be disqualified from making any comments or complaints about the outcomes of the election. One thing is certain, regardless of which party and which candidates gain seats, little will change in the short term.
Even a man as radically committed to his agendas as was Ariel Sharon, when he became Prime Minister of Israel he was quoted as saying, “things look different from this chair.” His agendas, or at least his strategy for achieving them, changed significantly. I can only hope and pray that whoever wins, whichever parties form the coalition, or whatever the Knesset will look like, God is ultimately in control. He is the one who “holds he heart of the king in his hand and he turns it wherever he will,” and this for the furtherance of His purposes. And so I continue to pray and examine the options; knowing that on election day, my vote will be cast, not just into the ballot box, but into the hands of whom all the kings, princes and politicians of the earth will eventually come and be turned according to His will.