Well, I am back in work after a day off for the Israeli Elections, and initially that was all the day was going to be for me. A day off; a day to clean the house, do the laundry, finish reading the Celestine Prophecy, finish watching Munich, and hopefully get started on Commander in Chief. This was a good solid plan and in no part of it did I have any intention of voting, something that I was not particularly proud of. Confusing? Yes I am!
As a woman, and I say that not because I do not think that men hold the same value, but particularly as a woman I have held the view that we have a duty to vote. Why as a woman? Well what was suffrage for if not to give the future generations of women the right to vote? It was their gift to us, to me, and here I am in Israel contemplating not voting. More than that, I had pretty much decided that I was not going to vote. And like a good Jewish girl, the guilt was killing me.
While I was cleaning my house, Nooman took a break from his studies to post his ballot, and came back with the grin of satisfaction that only comes from an Oleh voting for the first time in his new country. I was a little envious, but shrugged it off and moved on to the next task on my list which was putting on the laundry. As the day unfolded friends on their way back or on their way to the polling stations dropped in to say “hi”, discuss who they voted for, or who they were going to vote for. In this time I made no comment. As someone who had no intention of voting I was not about to give my opinion on their choice of candidate, nor was I going to get on my high horse about the sad state of Israeli Politics. Firstly, when you decide not to vote, I soon realized, you give up the right to an opinion on who you would or could vote for, because you are NOT. Secondly, I realised that where my political thinking in England could have been interpreted as somewhat apathetic, here in Israel they had become absolutely indifferent.
In England I voted; I told my friends that they had to vote, even though in the Labour rich area of Headingley, Leeds we knew our votes would be wasted, we still voted. Other than my own moral duty of voting, I felt there was something to vote for, a leader or a party that I believed in and someone that I could trust as much as you can trust a politician. In Israel I felt totally overwhelmed by the number of parties alone. How can I make an informed decision about who I am going to vote for if I have no idea who or what the parties are and who or what they stand for? I did make the effort to watch the party political broadcasts, but found that the parties were all too busy slagging each other off to actually bother to inform the public as to their policies. It would appear that the Israeli parties believe that you can run the country alone on the basis that “At least your leader isn’t Bibi!” I personally think that Bibi got a tough run on the broadcasts, but regardless the only party actually talking about their policies what the party whose advert stated “We love Women, Pot Smokers, Homosexuals, Homeless and Arabs”.
Ok, enough giving Israel a hard time. The truth is, if my Hebrew was at the level it should be for someone who has been studying the language since they were six, then perhaps I would be able to understand more and therefore be in a better position to make an informed decision!
Anyway, after being badgered to vote, for a few hours by two visiting friends, who only made me more defensive and angry, I decided to go and see my old wise friend who has always been a great advisor when it comes to my decision making. With his dog sprawled across my lap, we talked about our lives in Israel, how intergrated we feel, who we would vote for if we could be bothered to vote. And it was then that he admitted to me that he had in fact already voted.
ME: “But you are just as apathetic as I am! How come you decided to vote? And who did you vote for?”
OWF: “Yeah well, I wasn’t going to vote, but then I decided that even though my vote doesn’t really count, and that I don’t really know who I want to vote for, I still feel it is important that we all vote”
And as simply as that I asked him if I could use his internet to find out where my polling station was. In truth, he was right. It did not matter that I didn’t agree with one party in particular, it did not matter that I was disinterested in the policies that were not being thrown around the election. What mattered was that I stick to my original principles and vote, because God Dammit! I have the right!