Sunday, February 15, 2009

Visiting Israel: Elections

Tuesday, February 10, was elections day in Israel. As I am a dual-citizen, I exercised my democratic right (which should really be an obligation, but leave it for now) and went to vote.

Elections in Israel should happen once every four years, however bad politics, shaky security situation and – above all – an exceedingly stupid election method, they happen quite too often (1996, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006 and now).

Even though my life is in Canada, still, my entire family lives in Israel and therefore I never lost touch with what’s going on there, including its politics. If you thought that Canadian politics suck, think again; very few things can disgust me as Israeli politics can.

Up until the break of the current so-called Palestinian “uprising”, in October 2000, I used to be rather dovish. The start of the uprising, together with the 9/11 attacks, made me doubt my position, moved me a bit more to the right but still, generally, left. I think that the big “bang” that moved me almost all the way to the right (in Israeli politics) came after I witnessed that the disengagement process, which took place in the summer of 2005, only made matters worse. I then realized once and for all that the Arab-Israeli dispute has nothing to do with territory, but has everything to do with cultural differences. I saw fellow Israelis being torn away from their homes – homes that they built because their own government allowed them to! - by Israeli soldiers and police officers, and it was emotionally devastating. “So be it”, I said; “at least now we’ll have some quiet”. What a mistake that was.

It actually is an interesting phenomenon; Israelis who spend a long time abroad tend to go hawkish as time goes by.

Anyhow, I went to cast my vote, went for lunch and, at the evening, went to visit my uncle Sami who lives a few minutes walk away from our place. Sami’s place just happened to serve as some sort of regional headquarters for one of the running parties. We went to visit after all the fuss was over, shortly before 22:00, when the exit polls were due.

Every elections, instantly after the voting polls are shut at 22:00, all Israeli news channels show their own “exit polls” results. This event, of showing the exit polls’ results, is arguably the most watched event in Israeli TV. The entire people of Israel are literally buried in their homes, attached to the TV; and at 22:00 sharp, you get the exit polls results. This year, it was an unusually dramatic event, as all surveys showed a tremendous rise in the power of the right wing – which proved to be true. The Israeli left has died an agonizing pain: out of 120 seats, the right-wing took 65, the “center” took 28 and all the rest are virtually irrelevant – some religious parties, a few extreme-left and some that I don’t even know.

The dire security situation, plus the growing fear of internal uprisings on behalf of the Arab-Israeli population, moved the Israeli voters to the right.

And there we were, my father, my uncle & aunt, their children and other family members, talking mostly about politics, with passion. That’s one of the things that I miss the most in life in Israel – discussions, about anything, are more often than not filled with passion. We analyzed the political situation, given the election’s results, from every possible angle. After a couple of hours, we left.

Back home, a light snack, a few emails and I’m off to sleep after yet another interesting day.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

'dire' security situation: couldn't
you choose another adjective? :-))
just trying to lighten up the argument, daria