Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Mid-week Elections update


11th February 2009.

The day after the night before!

The final votes are in although some are not yet counted and Kadimah is the largest party, closely followed by Likud, but the decision as to who will lead the government is still in the air. Israel's election laws are somewhat confusing since there are so many small parties and varied parties which could potentially form coalitions. It is a long process, taking anything up to 30 days to enter into negotiations with the previously opposing parties to gather the 61+ seats needed to gain a majority coalition. President Peres has called for the relevant parties to try to form a government within a shorter period of 10 days since this is a crucial time in Israeli politics. Based upon their ability to form a substantial and stable coalition he will announce the next Prime Minister of Israel.

Lieberman's Israel Beiteinu did not achieve the huge landslide they expected, although their 14-15 seats will probably swing the direction of any coalition. His immoderate words brought out the normally low Arab vote and the Arab parties have increased their number with at least 8 seats. I say immoderate although, if one really examines the ethic of loyalty to ones country maybe the words are not as extreme as they appear, they do, however, open the door to excessive action and reaction closer to nationalism than loyalty. I am a moderate but when Arab Members of Knesset overtly support Israel's enemies in time of war, enemies who proclaim Israel's demise, I believe it is treasonous. Members of Knesset swear to protect and support the State of Israel against her enemies and should be disciplined when they abuse democracy by not adhering to their own oaths.

The Kadimah results surprised me because I thought that the wonderful heavy rain throughout the country may serve the more extreme parties, the less committed, voters staying home in the warm, but it didn't affect the results as severely as I predicted. The Left is the general loser in yesterdays political equation - Meretz is almost wiped out with 3 seats and Labour with only 13 seats is the 4th party in size.

Zvi and I chose a short break in the rain to walk through the park on our street to our polling station. We took Yosef and Talia, our little grandchildren, with us so that they could experience the excitement of choosing the right "petek" – voting slip. Once inside the school, each voter is directed to his/her polling room, one person at a time, a panel of invigilators sits in each room, one of whom checks the voters ID card and voting card, hands him an empty envelope and directs him to the booth. Unlike most countries, stepping inside the booth one is faced by a vast number (I think about 30) slips, all with one, two or three letters in Hebrew, so that not only must one choose a party, one must remember which letters apply to ones preferred party! Having chosen the petek, it is sealed inside the envelope and taken back to the panel, in front of whom one posts it into the sealed box. Yosef and Talia did the honours – and then chose a treat from the local corner shop as a prize!

Time will tell who will ultimately be the Prime Minister – although Tsippi Livni has already offered Likud a strong two party coalition with her as Prime Minister. One political pundit has suggested a rotational Kadimah/Likud Prime Ministerial system until much needed electoral reforms are in place.

Australia suffered a catastrophic bush fire which took the lives of over a hundred people. The fire, in Victoria State, was a heinous case of arson. Vast areas were wiped out and families destroyed, burnt in their homes unable to escape the inferno. Australia and her governments have been true and stalwart supporters of democracy and stood by Israel in her hours of need. I think it would be appropriate and right if we were to write to the Victoria State Premier John Brumby offering him and the people of Victoria our condolences.

Last night we went to see the movie "Defiance", the true story of the Bielski family, four brothers whose parents were killed in Nowogrodek, Byelorus, and hid in the surrounding forests, to become the leaders of the hundreds and hundreds of people who joined them. Through their defiance and wiles they and many of their followers survived until the end of the war. The film is harrowing, brilliant, essential and I left the movie house knowing that we, as a people are survivors. We will never use deprivation and destitution or death as an excuse to wallow; we are a defiant people and will always, but always survive and thrive.

As a perfect example of positivity and togetherness the World Maccabi Union held the preparatory international meetings for the 18th Maccabiah which will be held in July. The sheer joy and good intentions of those who come from near and far to Kfar Maccabiah to lay down the plans for the "Chai" games makes me very proud. Through Zvi's voluntary work with Maccabi I get to see the background preparations and incredible planning which are behind the second largest international and most joyous of sports events in the world.

The Maccabiah is a way for young Jewish athletes (and some not so young) from all over the world, to come to Israel, meet, compete and socialize at the Kfar in a celebration of Israel, sport and the joy of togetherness.

While Zvi attended meetings at Kfar Maccabiah, I drove to see my amazing friend Jenny. Jennifer and I have been friends since the age of 7 when our Mother's introduced us (Jenny met her husband Brian at my 17th Birthday party) and although we meet rarely we always care about each other. There is a rare joy in meeting someone after a 3 or 4 year break and simply "carrying on the conversation. Incidentally, Jenny is still as beautiful as she was at age 7!!

Congratulations to the Liebler Family on the 50th wedding anniversary of Isi and Naomi here in their beloved Jerusalem. Naomi is World President of Emunah and Isi is known for his writings and determination to make the Jewish world a better place. Mazal Tov to you both "ad me'ah ve esrim beyachad"

An early Shabbat Shalom, hoping for a continuation of the rain and a cessation of political ambition for the betterment of the people - we need a smidgen of political stability! I know, I am back in Pollyanna-land!!!

Love from a wet and windy Jerusalem


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