Well, we’ve reached the end of the race – almost. Tomorrow is Election Day in Israel, and I am still (slightly) undecided as to who to vote for.
There isn’t one party which totally meets my “wish list” – and I suspect the same is true for the vast majority of voters.
It’s a shame one can’t do “mix ‘n’ match” with the various party platforms, the way one does with clothes, tableware or bed-linen.
In a way, voting for a political party – any political party – means conforming to a political stereotype, at least in the eyes of the opponents of that party. It is like submitting to the PC Thought Police. The moment you tell someone you’re voting for a particular party, you are instantly tagged as a fascist/enemy of Israel/bigot/self-hating Jew/heartless capitalist/ bleeding-heart do-gooder/(take your pick).
Apparently it is impossible for one who believes in the right of the Jewish People to all of Eretz Yisrael also to care for the downtrodden middle class who cannot make ends meet. If you oppose the proposed “Israel as a Jewish State” Bill, it can only be because you are a Leftist, self-hating Jew, not because you think it is totally unnecessary to state the obvious. If you think homosexuality is abnormal, but support the Civil Partnership Law, you are still a bigot in the eyes of “the enlightened” and a destroyer of Jewish Family Values in the eyes of the orthodox and if you think that Israel can exist as a Jewish State without abolishing the standing of Arabic as an official language – forget it. You are a racist in the eyes of the Left (because only a racist would support the right of Jews to their own state) and a Fifth Columnist/Traitor in the eyes of the Right (because obviously, keeping Arabic as an official language weakens the “Jewishness” of the State of Israel).
I think that I, like many “floating” voters, will be deciding which slip of paper to drop into the ballot box, on the basis of “the lesser of two (or more) evils”. It has often been said that the Israeli voter is always voting against something, never for something. A perfect example of this attitude, carried to extremes, is the campaign slogan of the centrist and left-wing parties: “Just not Bibi”. It reminds me of the old joke about the Jew who is shipwrecked on a desert island and who, when he is rescued after 20 years of life as a hermit, proudly points out to his rescuers the synagogue he has built for himself, although, as he admits, he only prays there once a year, on Yom Kippur. As they all marvel at his ingenuity, he tells them: “Oh, this is nothing. Just wait till you see the other synagogue I have built, over at the far side of the island.”
“Why do you need two synagogues?” they ask him.
“That other one is the one I wouldn’t be caught dead in!” is the reply.
What I am trying to say is that the moment you announce your intention to vote for any particular party, after weeks of soul-searching and after finally arriving at the conclusion that Party X is not perfect (far from it) but that Parties A, B and C are worse, you are instantly tagged with all the stereotypes attached to the supporters of that particular party. And the PC Thought Police reinforces this attitude. According to their Orwellian agenda, it is not enough to support whatever cause is the “Flavour of the Day”. You must support it for whatever they have deemed to be “the right reasons”.
Nor is anyone willing to listen to a word “the Other Side” has to say. For example, I have a friend from my choir who thinks I am a fascist and a racist, because I want Israel to be “a Jewish state”. She thinks she knows what I mean by “a Jewish state” and won’t let me explain that what I mean by the term and what some others might mean by the term are not necessarily one and the same. She cannot conceive of the possibility that a person might believe fervently in the right of the Jewish People to their own state in all of Eretz Yisrael, while still respecting the civil rights of the Arab minority.
Likewise the question of same-sex marriage. Even if one agrees that people have a right to deviate from “the norm”, as long as they are not harming anyone else, one is still “a bigot”, if one does not believe homosexuality is “normal” , because for some people, if one uses terms like “normal”, one is making a value judgement. The common response of these people is usually something on the lines of “Who gave you the right to decide who is normal and who is not?” Try to explain what you mean by “normal” and they won’t let you get a word in edgeways, because you have already been branded a bigot and the democratic right to freedom of speech is only for those who happen to agree with what the self-proclaimed “enlightened” have deemed to be Politically Correct.
Hand-in-hand with this stereotyping of other people’s positions is the extremely defensive attitude concerning one’s own. My American-born friend from the choir who thinks support for a Jewish State is inherently racist, when asked what it was that drew her to make aliyah, does not recognise my innocent question as a perfectly genuine attempt to elicit from her an analysis of her view of the Jewish connection to Eretz Yisrael. What she hears is: “If you don’t like it here in the Jewish state, go back to the USA.” And she refuses to allow any further discussion, any attempt to explain that this was not my intention at all.
I hasten to add, I do not believe that this behaviour is uniquely Israeli. I fear it is a trait shared by a very large number of people the world over. On the face of it, it doesn’t seem to bode very well for the future of Humanity.
In fact, sometimes, I wonder how we’ve managed to survive this long.
And yet, in spite of everything, the Human Race has managed – somehow – to muddle through.
Just as I am sure that, despite the dire predictions of Left and Right, Israel will also pull through, whatever the outcome of tomorrow’s elections.