Sunday, January 20

Last Minute Election Appeal

The Israeli Elections of 2013 will soon be hours away and even at this late stage there are many people who are not sure for whom to vote. There are also those who do not wish to exercise their vote.

This is very sad.  Those who do not know for whom to vote is understandable. Those who refuse to cast their vote and do the minimum expected of them cannot be justified. The least they can do is cast a blank vote as a protest against a flawed voting system. This system allows many parties with similar agendas rushing into an unwieldy coalition with Likud-Beitenu that has an extreme right wing illegal settler oriented agenda that is bad for Israel's already battered world  image with the increased danger of a third Palestinian uprising.

Most of Israel's citizens will vote for Likud-Beitenu (which will win) that will form the next government as they will receive the most mandates.They will  negotiate with Bayit Hayehudi, Shas, Otzma, Yesh Atid, Tnua and Yehadut Hatorah which seem to be the likely coalition partners, with the dying Kadima Party of Shaul Mofaz as an appendage.

What is left out of this right wing coalition-to-be is Avodah (Labor Party), Meretz, Hadash and the Arab Parties. However, with a bit of arm twisting by Netanyahu, despite Shelly Yachimovitz mutterings to the contrary, may even join the coalition as a "moderating influence". Avodah is not left, or social democratic. Benjamin Netanyahu may even succeed in dragging Avodah into his coalition by the usual double talk on basic principles that Avodah will find difficult to refuse. It has happened before after previous elections and there is no reason to believe that after this lack-luster election, the only change will be from right to far-right.
No accolades for Netanyahu, who will continue his destructive leadership, ruining Israel and filling the brain of much of the Israeli electorate with hummous.

We have nothing to be hopeful about after the elections as democracy is in danger of being jeopardized.  Those who do not agree with the ruling right wing agenda will be viewed as unpatriotic, a danger to Israel and even fifth column. Human rights, peace with our Palestinian neighbors and social issues will not take priority. More money will be spent on settlers in the West Bank. All this will mean further security measures to protect them and a more militant Palestinian leadership with whom to deal. The Netanyahu Government has done everything in its power to weaken Mahmoud Abbas, a moderate Palestinian leader of the Palestinians, who is amenable to negotiations. The Likud and company have strengthened Hamas by weakening Abbas. Now the rest is history as a more extreme right wing coalition will be formed after elections and the chance of peace in a turbulent Middle East, with Islamist extremism gaining the upper hand, diminishes even further. The least Israel could do is negotiate with Mahmoud Abbas on a Two State solution. This should have been done and this would weaken Hamas as they refuse to be part of the solution for peace with Israel. The latter serves Netanyahu's interests and as strange it may seem, Hamas will not be able to survive without the Israeli right wing to extreme right wing.

If we take all these possibilities into consideration, it is more important now than ever before for a strong, fighting opposition against the extreme right wing coalition after the elections. This would be positive for achieving a just and lasting peace in our area as well as improving  Israel's status of a polecat to a respectable member of the world of nations. The settlement policies and the occupation of the Palestinians is detrimental to Israel and is unjust. We must move forward from there as difficult as this will be. So many Israeli leaders have stated that they do not wish to occupy another people but in practice this is what they are doing by increasing settlement activity in Palestinian lands in the West Bank. As expected in the Israeli elections this should have been one of the main issues, but has been avoided by almost all the Zionist Parties from center to right.

The left wing voter should vote for what he/she feels is in Israel's best interest.Perhaps, the following points may be helpful in deciding for which party list to vote:
1. The left must be strengthened as a bulwark against the right and its fundamentalist religious allies.
2. There must be separation of religion and state.
3. Avoid voting for sectarian, partisan and one issue parties.
4. Emphasis must be on equality of all Israeli citizens so that a feeling of a common loyalty to the state as well as patriotism for Israel is achieved. This means that the non-Jewish minorities should feel an integral part of Israel and its well-being.

There are two parties that fall in this category and are a good choice for the confused left voter to consider - Meretz and Hadash. Both parties have similar objectives with the latter moving further to the left. The former is Zionist while the latter is not. Both parties as well as the Arab Parties will never be part of the "right wing coalition to be". So the choice depends much on one being a left wing Zionist or a Communist in favor of democracy. There are no other choices for strengthening the left. The Arab Parties, like the right wing center parties and Jewish religious parties are sectarian and this does not promote true equality between all Israel's citizens irrespective of race, color and creed.
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