Another Voice and the Israeli Elections - Part 3
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 3 of our series, offering four more bloggers’ thoughts on these upcoming elections:
Bee: This year, the parties’ voting campaigns are defining themselves only by what they are not. Avoda, the labour party, is not going to align itself with Likud (Netanyahu's party). The Likud is not going to "babysit" the other parties (this is literally what his campaigns says). Naftali Bennet's party is not going to apologize any more (When did they ever apologize for anything in the first place). Lapid (Yesh Atid) is neither left-wing nor right-wing, and so on. The parties running are so preoccupied with telling us, the voters, what they are not, that they seem to neglect to tell us what they are. They use charged words that get the voters emotional and play on that to the maximum, such as security, the Palestinian problem (we are a problem??), poverty, social justice, and of course the Holocaust. It is evident to me from this campaign that the potential leaders of Israel are not in a position to take us to a better future, but rather maintain the status quo yet again. So, who am I going to vote for?
As a self-loving Palestinian, I do not have many options. I don't trust that any of the right-wing parties (who are a majority) are working towards my needs. I need to live here in mutual respect and equality with my Israeli Jewish neighbors. So, the alternatives are either Meretz, or the United Arab Party. I will let you fill in the blanks which option I choose in the end.
Y: As the elections come closer, it’s easy to feel a bit apathetic about them. Does it really matter who is in power? Won’t it just all stay the same regardless?
It’s especially easy for me to feel this way because I am unable to vote in the federal elections due to not being a full citizen. There are many others who pay taxes to Israel and reside within her jurisdiction, whether internationals or Palestinian residents of Jerusalem who have been here for generations but lack full citizenship, that are also unable to vote. However, the right to an opinion and to voicing this cannot be taken even if the right to vote is. The truth is, I am affected by the elections’ outcome and if we look at the past few years, it’s fairly clear that it does matter who is in power.
The current government has given unprecedented amounts of funding to settlements and the army at the expense of social programs and, ultimately, at the expense of the future of Israel and peace. While previous governments were not ideal, they at least seemed to make attempts to be democratic and to even negotiate peace. They may have been weak attempts but they were attempts.
As a believer in Jesus, I also am compelled to look at His example as a blueprint for the values I want to see in candidates. While there are none that perfectly match this, for me it seems that Jesus was forever reaching out to those marginalized in society, to those who had no voice, and was never pushing for restrictions on them or further alienation from them. He was not guided by fear, which can so often evolve into hate, and He did not desire exclusivity or privilege.
So, if I were to vote, I would cast my vote for the party that best represents those groups and not the one that legitimizes injustice just so that I can feel more secure.
Alice: I'm both an American citizen and an Israeli citizen. I vote always in all elections.
The last two elections in the United States, I voted for Barak Obama...I was proud that my country was electing a man of color in the first election and in the second, I wanted to give him more time to implement socialized medicine (as we have here in Israel) and reduce the presence of the US in foreign wars. That doesn't mean I haven't been disappointed in the President - I have been.
My vote, however, cannot be understood as a VOTE FOR GOD's MAN (or woman) as is often preached from pulpits or in paid advertising. My vote is JUST AND ONLY my opinion. I never understood people saying they were voting for the most CHRISTIAN person or the person against abortion because GOD is behind that type of thinking. Who do we think we are, determining conclusively who God wants in power? (And then you'd have to explain to me who was God's choice when Bush defeated Gore, but had LESS votes than Gore!?? )
Now we have Israeli elections and I will probably vote for the candidate that best represents my desire for equality in our nation. Whoever that happens to be, it is my heart's desire that there be freedom of movement, equality and social justice. But is that what God wants right now for this country of Israel? Maybe God DOES want Greater Israel and Netanyahu is God's Man of the Hour. I don't know....All I can do is give voice to the yearning of my heart to seek to live in peace with all men, as much as it is possible...Maranatha.
Palestinian-Israeli Guest Blogger: We are once again in the face of another round of elections, and our minds are dizzy with thoughts about the future and what it will bring to each of us.
Is democracy going to save us this time?
On Election Day, all citizens are required to put aside their differences and get in touch with their social security number, to cast their votes into a machine so great, made to fit us all.
On Elections Day, we are all asked to forget the 364 days we feel we are being excluded, exploited, tread upon, and persecuted for one day of solidarity, loyalty to the fate that has brought us all together, and commitment to the democracy, which unites us under one roof.
But how much faith do we have in this system? Would a regime truly established in the spirit of democracy subject its citizens to multiple wars, martial law, discrimination, persecution and occupation of another people?
On this day we bury all these questions in the closet named history, and replace them with rejuvenated hope that everything will be ok. We will dedicate these 24 hours to the elections, wholeheartedly believing that we have an equal right to decide the future of this place, our future in this place. And most importantly, we will join others who feel the same as we do, because no one is alone in this.
I once knew a four-year-old who had to leave his home in fear that a foreign army is going to put him on a bus and dump him on the border of another country. So he never came back. He stayed there and he will never have to deal with the question of voting or not. He became a people without a land. The four-year-old who did return however, became an identity number without a people. He goes to vote every time there is an election, to the same country which turned him into a refugee. His identity is constantly toyed with, his leadership continuously crushed, his tolerance taken advantage of, and his love exploited. Why does he still do it, you may ask? Because if he didn’t vote, he might have to become a refugee again.
This four-year-old is not me, but I've been carrying his pain all these years. I only realized this now.