Thursday, March 12, 2015

An election quandary: 26 parties and none to support

An election quandary: 26 parties and none to support

By Alan Stein

Published in the Jewish Advocate, March 14, 2015

Alan Stein, a retired college professor, is CAMERA’s 2015 “Letter Writer of the Year.” He splits his time between Massachusetts and Israel.

When I made aliyah in October, I didn't expect to get a chance to vote before my teudat zehut was dry. Then Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni got on Benjamin Netanyahu's nerves and an election was scheduled for March 17. Oy. Twenty-six parties on the ballot. I have to make a choice.

I won't waste my vote on any of the minor parties with no chance of making the Knesset.

I may like the way Ale Yarok, the Green Party, is running on the platform of legalized pot, but it isn't going to get any seats and so it won't get my vote.

The ultra-religious parties insist on having everyone else support the non-working Haredim. Not with my shekels.

I've always considered myself a liberal, although a Jerusalem Post questionnaire during the last election campaign placed me almost dead center. I don't like the extremes. I won't vote for any party too far left or right.

Okay. Four parties left: Koolanu, Likud, Zionist Camp and Yesh Atid.

In the previous election, I probably would have voted for Yesh Atid (There Is A Future), a then brand new party started by television personality Yair Lapid. I don't like the way politicians keep leaving one party and starting another, but my agreement with much of its platform overcame that basic negative. Yesh Atid performed better than expected in that election, became part of the governing coalition and, even though he admittedly knew nothing about finance, Yair Lapid became Finance Minister, It showed. Then he criticized the government during the recent Gaza war. That offends my American sensibilities. Politics stops at the water's edge. Scratch Yesh Atid. It doesn't have my future vote.

Isaac Herzog is the new leader of Labor, the major component of the Zionist Camp. Labor has lost every election since Ehud Barak, Camp David and the second intifada and votes in a new leader after each one. Herzog also publicly criticized the government during the Gaza war. That affects my American sensibilities. Herzog also formed an alliance with Hatnuah, the party formed by Tzipi Livni for the prior election after being defeated for the leadership of Kadima, which she had joined after leaving Likud. Together, they're running as the Zionist Camp. While opposition leader, Livni strongly criticized the Israeli government - and praised Mahmoud Abbas! - both in speeches and in op-ed published in American newspapers, while touring the United States. Scratch the Zionist Camp.

I'm opposed to formal term limits, but also think it's unhealthy for the government to be controlled by the same individual or party for too long. Netanyahu's been prime minister in Likud-led coalitions for six years, after previously serving for three years. I think that's long enough. Time for a change.

Koolanu is a brand new party started a few months ago by Moshe Kahlon. Kahlon had been a lifelong Likudnik and served as a minister in the previous government. He's popular for opening up cellular service to competition. I'm happy about that; thanks to Moshe, I've been getting unlimited cellular and data for my iPhone for 37 shekels (under $10) a month! His list also includes some candidates I consider excellent, such as Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States. Unfortunately for its chances getting my vote, nobody from Koolanu showed up when I went to an election forum at AACI (Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel). I was already reluctant to vote for yet another new party just started by an individual bolting from one party. So long Koolanu.

Twenty six parties running for the Knesset and none to support! Time for a song from The Boss, a sequel to Bruce Springsteen's "57 Challens (And Nothin' On)."

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