Election Day is almost upon us once again, barely two years from the last elections. Voting will begin tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. Israel time and polls will close at 10 p.m. This year, more than ever before, many Israelis are still undecided about whom to vote for.
For those people, and for any interested readers who cannot vote but are curious about the elections, here are some election guides from the Israeli media.
The Jerusalem Post has an “Election compass” to enable you to decide where your views fall on the Israeli political map. I gave it a try and it wasn’t totally accurate but it gave a good idea of my general direction.
For first-time voters, or those who have forgotten the system (though with such a short gap it’s hard to forget!), the Times of Israel has a handy Users’ Guide.
The JTA gives us a concise summary of Who’s Who in the Elections, grouping the candidates into right, left, center, and the various religious groupings.
The Jerusalem Post has a similar “Guide to the Politically Perplexed” with slightly more detail for those who are interested in the parties’ platforms.
And here is a cute video which describes Israel’s complicated electoral system:
Since Election Day is a national holiday and Israelis suffer from a dearth of bank holidays, the atmosphere feels almost festive, like Independence Day, despite the existential questions that will face the new government . All the shops and malls are offering huge discounts and bargains, and I’m sure the warm sunny weather will draw thousands of Israelis to parks and nature reserves. However since we are only 2 weeks away from Pesach (Passover) I’m sure many Israelis will take to their dusters and scrubbing brushes and get a head-start on their Pesach cleaning!
Confounding everybody’s plans and expectations, in a last-minute pre-election surprise this evening, Tzipi Livni announced that she will be foregoing the rotation agreement with Yitzchak “Buji” Herzog, in which they had agreed to rotate the Premiership should the Zionist Union (aka the Labour Party) win the elections:
The Zionist Union’s Tzipi Livni on Monday night said she decided to give up her rotation agreement with party leader Isaac Herzog since it would better serve the party’s goal of replacing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.
In a series of interviews with the Israeli media, Livni said that Likud should look to her decision to learn about “responsible leadership.” She denied the timing of the announcement was “tactical,” but urged voters to elect her party, saying: “I did what I had to do, now it’s your turn.”
Livni also maintained that she had always insisted she would give up the arrangement if it was “an obstacle.”
The Zionist Union dropped the bombshell with less than 12 hours remaining before the election, announcing that Livni would give up the rotation of the premiership with Herzog, an agreement the two made months ago when her Hatnua party merged with his Labor Party.
Addressing criticism from Netanyahu, who denounced the last-minute move as “panicking” and accused Livni and Herzog of “lying” to the public, Livni told Channel 2: “The Likud is getting up and screaming because Netanyahu has never come across a situation where a leader makes decisions for the good of the nation.
“Let them look at us and learn how responsible leaders behave,” added Livni, a former member of Likud.
Netanyahu and members of his party had also claimed that the last-minute move reflected the Zionist Union’s inability to withstand pressure.
It should be noted that Livni’s remaining in the rotation agreement was “an obstacle to removing Netanyahu from power” because she is evidently unelectable, which does not reflect well on her personally. However, I grudgingly give her kudos for her political savvy and sense of responsibility despite the Likud’s protestations. If only all the parties on the right behaved so responsibly towards each other we would never have been in this mess in the first place.
And now for my own little contribution to the hoped-for victory of the right, here are some election propaganda videos. Yes, they all support the right. No, this blog is not a democracy. Wherever did you get such an idea? This here is a one-man (or rather, one-woman) dictatorship. 😉
Below is a video in which Netanyahu was “ambushed” by Channel 2 TV into a live debate with Herzog, something he had refused all along. Herzog spoiled his chance, even though it was handed to him on a silver platter, by a stupid slip of the tongue which greatly amused Netanyahu – and me. 🙂
Next we have a clever video produced by the national-Zionist “Im Tirzu” movement, where they spliced a real archive video of Israel’s founder and first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion with a spoof interview by leftist socialist Stav Shafir. The results are both funny and sad – sad because the leftists are shocked to hear Ben Gurion’s hard-line stance on withdrawing from Judea and Samaria (no way!), or from Jerusalem (never gonna happen!), the Golan (absolutely not!), and on the right of return of Arab refugees (Ben Gurion disputes the inflated numbers already back in 1967. He would be astounded to hear how many millions of Palestinian “refugees” there are today).
Here’s a funny Likud promotional video (I don’t disagree with the message even though I prefer Bayit Yehudi) – the “Bibi-Sitter”:
And last but definitely not least, here’s Naftali Bennett leading a crowd of about 100,000 in a rousing rendition of “Yerushalayim shel Zahav” (Jerusalem of Gold). The right-wing rally was held on Saturday night in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv and was a huge success by any standards. The only hitch was that Elections Committee disallowed performances by professional singers at political rallies, so Bennett picked up his guitar and serenaded the crowd instead.
Happy Elections Day everyone! May the best party win!