Another Voice and the Israeli Elections - Part 2
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 2 of a 3 part series, offering our bloggers’ thoughts on these upcoming elections:
I: Once upon a long time ago, I would have voted for the party that spoke most loudly about security. Israel is a small and threatened state, is it not? Yet once I spent more time listening to the issues discussed, seeing how the policies affected those around me, I learned how security is often code for a lust for power, a desire to get rid of or ignore those unaccepted others. Of course there are legitimate security needs, but much of security is built off of injustice, abuse, theft and inducing fear in others. Now I look at the following ad from those who claim to be the best equipped to deal with security, and I find it laughable. Bibi’s campaign slogan is as ridiculous as it is terrifying. It literally says, ‘It’s us or them.’
As a Messianic Jew, I am a member of a tiny minority. Naturally, minority issues are important to me. One of the biggest issues for us as a community is marriage. Since it is not possible to marry across religious lines (or religious-ethnic lines), it is impossible for an Israeli Messianic Jew who is Jewish through her mother’s side to marry a man who is Jewish through his father’s side. Or, an Israeli Messianic Jew who is registered as Jewish in their ID cannot marry someone registered as a Christian. If we are not registered as coming from the same state-approved group, then we have to leave the country to officially get married. Since I’m already married, and inconveniently left the country to file for marriage papers, this issue doesn’t apply to me anymore. But it applies to countless others, not only but including Messianic Jews.
Another area important to me is the social-economic policies of the government, particularly the growing gap between the rich and poor and unaffordable housing for lower and middle class families. I am concerned about the structural discrimination against minorities in Israel, and how that influences access to education and job opportunities, among other things. The final issue of great importance to me is setting a responsible course to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict, including a total freeze of settlement construction and resumption of peace talks. Ideally this would end in a two-state solution, although I doubt that’s even a feasible option at this point.
Goody Two Shoes: To vote or not to vote. It is not a question for me as I not eligible. Cannot vote. Not at all.
A permanent resident has no vote in the general elections. They can, however, vote for the City Mayor.
I am the only member of my family with this status. Everybody else has Israeli citizenship .
Mind you, it is not really a great hardship because the choice of candidates is so poor I would not know who to vote for. Same dilemma for the Mayor actually.
When I first got married, my native country did not allow its citizens to ask for citizenship of another country. That has changed now. I can ask. As Israeli citizenship is usually only freely given to Jewish people, I would have to ask. This means a long wait and a lot of money in lawyer fees. It also causes a conflict within my conscience. I am not sure I want to swear allegiance to a country that is persecuting my family.
So I remain a non-voter. I will follow the results though, because they will affect me and my family directly (usually for the worse). I have been living here for over 30 years and have yet to see a Government help a minority such as the one I married into (Palestinian).
I do not have any real confidence in the political system here. Maybe that sounds pessimistic, doom and gloom, ostrich behaviour? I would like to see the political situation change, very much I would , but I am not holding out for it.
Every time I say things cannot get any worse...they do!
With all this moaning and groaning, I had better go and reread my Goody Two Shoes is on a Diet article, posted a while back! It holds a good moral for times such as these.
Abbsi: As a Palestinian from the West Bank, the Israeli elections don’t make any difference to me. Until recently, I thought that both left-wing and right-wing parties refuse to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories and East Jerusalem. I learned this isn't the case for all of them. For me, the biggest issue is the occupied territories. If I could vote in Israel, I would support a party that would end the occupation and give equal rights to Palestinians.
Voting is important to the Palestinians living in Israel. They must consolidate their efforts to make a difference in Israeli society and not be a marginalized party. By consolidating their vote, they could effect change and declare and dictate their goals more powerfully. The Israelis must consider the inalienable rights of the Palestinians.
In the words of one peace activist: In order for the marginalized to be a mainstream, they should stop complaining and raise their voices to be heard and then become mainstream. This reminds me of Acts 6:1-7 where the marginalized widows raised their voices, gained a hearing, the apostles made changes in their favor, and the community grew and flourished.