Israel’s “Democracy Holiday” is tomorrow, and those of us fortunate enough to live in Israel get a chance to try and influence the direction the country will take over the coming years via our national elections.
Unfortunately, many people are still undecided who they will vote for tomorrow, so the following is my modest attempt at providing some guidance to help you make up your mind.
For Israeli Left-wingers: As an attempt to find the lowest common denominator for Israeli leftists who take pride in being Israeli and Zionist – and leaving the 1967 territories and the de-centralization of Judaism from Zionism and/or Israel is major part of your agenda, the Muqata Blog advocates that you vote for Meretz. Meretz MK Zahav Galon is an outspoken MK who keeps her agenda focused in the Knesset and in the media – more than any other left wing party. Don’t be fooled into voting for Da’am – they believe that social protests must be political to be effective, which is the ultimate reason why social protests will fail in Israel. Politicizing them disunites the people and keeps social activists from the center or right from joining forces with them.
Additionally, Da’am advocates:
Withdrawal to the 1967 borders (incl. leaving the Golan), the establishment of a fully independent Palestinian state, and the dismantling of all settlements. There is no explanation given for what to do with the 5 million plus Arabs demanding the right of return (Meretz is not in favor of the “right of Return” nor is there an explanation for what to do with Hamas or any of the other active terrorist groups.
Transformation to a socialist economy, including increasing the national deficit and nationalizing non-profitable industries. Meretz knows that a socialist national economy would be a disaster.
No deportation of migrant workers, and their full integration into the Israeli workforce via unionization together with Palestinians from the Territories (unclear why the Territories still exist in the overall Da'am scenario).
Bottom line: Zionist Left – vote Meretz!
And now, where things get more interesting. First comes the process of elimination:
Voting for a party that doesn’t pass the “ahuz hachasima” is a wasted vote. Don’t bother voting for a party that is too close to not getting into the Knesset – be pragmatic, otherwise you risk wasting your valuable vote. Israeli elections are about pragmatism and how to work the system to maximize the best result matching an individual’s ideology. Vote for a party that will definitely get in.
Update: AddeRabbi notes on small parties approaching the threshold:
AddeRabbi's presumption is that the above small parties are close enough to the threshold for your vote to make a statistical difference. That may be the case for Am Shalem and Otzma L'Yisrael, but I'm not fully convinced. Regardless -- I suggest you read his post and decide.
Preamble finished, let’s get down to business:
Rav Amnon Yitzchak runs the risk of missing the minimum votes needed to get into the Knesset. Result: Wasted Vote.
Rav Amsalem runs the risk of missing the minimum votes needed to get into the Knesset. Result: Wasted Vote.
Otzma LYisrael (Eldad and Ben-ari) runs the risk of missing the minimum votes needed to get into the Knesset. Result: Wasted Vote.
Aleh Yarok (Legalize Marijuana party and neo-Libertarian party) runs the risk of missing the minimum votes needed to get into the Knesset. Result: Wasted Vote.
Kadima/Shaul Mofaz thankfully runs the risk of missing the minimum votes needed to get into the Knesset. Result: Wasted Vote.
While I think that Yair Lapid’s party is simply a respin of existing centrist parties, and will eventually disappear like all the previous ones (Kahalani’s Third Way, Lapid’s father’s party -- Shinui, Kadima, etc.) – yet you feel torn between voting for Lapid and Tzippi Livni, PLEASE vote for Lapid’s Yesh Atid.
Tzippi Livni is perhaps Israel’s most cynical politician who has successfully failed at everything she set out to do. From negotiating the humiliating UN resolution which ended the Second Lebanon War’s (none of Israel’s objectives were achieved), and Hizbollah has kept to none of the UN’s resolution’s cease-fire terms, to failing to form a coalition government after last election despite being the largest party, to being thrown out of her party’s leadership in shame, to founding a NEW party with Amir Peretz as her #2, Livni is a disaster. For me, the final straw was bashing Bayit HaYehudi because of the “scoop” that Yigal Amir was voting for them. Maybe we should remind everyone that a convicted sexual molester (Haim Ramon) supports Livni, (oh wait, that actually is relevant because he was an actual party colleague of hers. Lapid is on record against splitting Jerusalem, so that’s also better than Livni who is in favor of splitting Jerusalem. Bottom line, if you are wavering between Lapid and Livni, go with Lapid.
If you believe in making Israel’s economy more socialist, and that negotiating with the Palestinians is crucial for Israel’s survival – then go with Labor and Shelly Yachimovtch. Shelly doesn’t advocate the same hatred towards the right or towards settlers as her predecessors, and routinely attempts to paint Labor as a centrist party, despite radical leftist and radical feminist, party-colleague Meirav Michaeli who has called on people not to serve in the IDF. If you are a left-leaning centrist or socialist, then vote Labor!
If you are Chareidi and are compelled to for a Chareidi party, please vote for Aguda/Degel HaTorah and NOT SHAS. Shas is rabid now, and they are calling the Bayit Yehudi, “Goyim”, “Kofrim” [infidels] and “Resha’im” [wicked]. We have enough hatred in the country already – besides, Shas leads the country in convicted MKs from a political party (Peretz, Levy, Deri and Pinchasi) – even more than Kadima (though there is still a chance that Olmert will finally be convicted and even up the score…) so don’t vote Shas. Please, don’t vote for Shas. For the sake of a more ethical Knesset.
And now….for the center to right wing voters.
Likud Beitinui and Bayit Yehudi.
For the sake of honesty, I will preface my remarks by saying that I am a member of Likud’s Central Committee for the past 12 years. I don’t take pride in many of the Likud’s actions over that period and the Disengagement from Gaza was the lowest point in the Likud’s history – when Sharon promised that a membership referendum would determine if he would push the Disengagement policy or not. Sharon lost, the Disengagement lost by over 70 of the membership vote, and Sharon spat in our faces and did it anyway. Eight years later, many of the Jewish refugees from Gaza still have no permanent housing or jobs. Netanyahu has gone on record about a “2 state solution” which is in direct contradiction to the Likud party platform and the against the majority of candidates on the Likud MK list.
However, the Likud the current government (i.e. Likud) has been one of the best governments for the settlement movement in many years. The Likud has enacted many laws, including the two high profile ones: “The Embargo law” and “The Referendum law” making it harder to uproot settlements. The Ariel College has been upgraded to a University and owing to our Likud Minister of education 10’s of thousands of school aged children have visited Hevron, as part of their school trips for the first time.
Investment in Settlement infrastructure, roads, culture is at its highest in over a decade – despite crazy international pressure, and we are finally seeing new housing projects as well. The Likud has kept our country’s finances in order, and Israel is a relative island of calm in a sea of international financial turmoil. Yes, it’s not easy to make ends meet, yet the global recession has demolished other countries such as Greece and Spain where unemployment is soaring. The majority of Israelis are living in homes, with food on their tables and their children are getting a decent education. Life isn’t perfect, but no other party is capable of steering Israel through these challenging financial times – without causing hyper-inflation, excess taxation, and reducing our start-up nation status to that of the previous Soviet bloc collapsed communist society.
A larger Likud enables more high profile positions to remain within the party. As foreign ministry is going to Lieberman (or his replacement), and I don’t see interior or finance ministries leaving the Likud, the chances of Defense (i.e. Boogie) remaining in the Likud are slim with a smaller Likud party. So ask yourself the question – do you prefer Boogie as Defense Minister (think housing permits and defending Israel from Iran) or Nisan Slominiansky (Bayit Yehudi) as Science Minister?
A smaller Likud always incurs the possibility of the President tasking some left wing amalgamation with the formation of the government. Arab and Non-Zionistic parties have no qualms with such a move and owing to the ideology of our current president – this is unfortunately quite possible.
On the flip side, Naftali Bennett has revolutionized the Bayit Yehudi [Jewish home] party – eradicated the vile “Mizrachi/Mafdal old boys network” and infused it with a young, dynamic and democratic spirit -- proud of the religious Zionist ethos, proud of outstanding contributions to the IDF, and not being afraid to call Jerusalem and the entire land of Israel, OURS. The Bayit Yehudi party competes with Lapid’s party as the #1 choice for first time voters, even among NON RELIGIOUS voters! Bennet is to be seriously commended for having turned the party around and it is poised to make history with the most seats ever for the Mizrachi/Mafdal religious Zionist party.
While my heart would love for me to vote for Bayit HaYehudi's list – and I admire each and every one of their MK candidates, my head personally tells me to vote Likud.
Vote for either one – and you won’t go wrong.
I yearn for the day when a large Likud/Bayit Yehudi exists togther – since the real hope for Israel’s future is the unification of parties, and not the splintering of them. Unity is the way to go.
And on that note, I urge all Israelis to get out and vote tomorrow – provided you are voting for principals and not because you think Yair Lapid is “cute” or that you believe Livni’s message that “her party is the only one that will “fight” for a diplomatic peace treaty with the Palestinians”.
Wishing us all good luck!
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