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Why Israeli Elections Really Matter

Tags: Blogger, Zionism, Antisemitism, Diaspora, Israel Engagement, Politics

By Caroline Reder

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25: The number of party tickets in the running

1,280: The total number of people on the tickets

5.8 million: The number of Israelis who can cast their vote

As one of those 5.8 million citizens of the State of Israel, I will be voting for the Zionist Camp. One coworker will be voting Likud while another for the Green Party and yet another for Yesh Atid. Do you know what we all have in common? We all work for The Israel Forever Foundation.

You might be asking yourselves right now, how can this be? It's quite simple.

We all believe in the State of Israel, as a State for the Jewish people, as a state that will uphold the rights of her citizens of all creeds, religions, gender affiliations and ethnicities, a state that is not only home to its citizens but a beacon of hope to a nation spread across the world - Am Yisrael.

I made Aliyah to Israel 5 years ago. I simply don't remember a time before then when life in the diaspora looked so grim. Murder, anti-semitic acts, boycotts, vandalism - just yesterday I was reading about a swastika spray painted on the car of a Dallas rabbi.

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With every act of hatred, of violence, of ignorance, my heart falls a little bit more as does my faith in humanity.

A very scary incident happened to me at an airport in Europe recently:

Characteristic of the chaotic scene that is arrivals at all airports everywhere around the world, people were hustling and scrambling to get into line, myself included. While trying to get into a security line (in the most unintuitive of places relative to the actual security check) I happened to bump into an older, well-off northern European couple jockeying for the end of the line. I made an effort at an apology but before I could get it out, the man immediately started a tirade against me, "what do you think you are doing, what kind of behavior is that...in my country we stand patiently in line, a line means something...you are acting like a barbarian and are a poor representative for your country behaving like this...WHAT COUNTRY ARE YOU FROM, WHAT NATIONALITY ARE YOU, LET ME SEE YOUR PASSPORT."

I was shaking, I was in shock, I was angry, no I was furious and then, I was simply scared - scared because all that kept going through my mind was the last time those demands were made in Europe...

As I made my way through the line all I could think of was that soon, I would be home. Soon, I would by flying over that heartwarming, familiar coastline of Tel Aviv. Soon, I would be safe among the comfort of my people and in the embrace of Eretz Yisrael.

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The importance of this election, of any election in the State of Israel, lies in the fact that we have a state in which we are able to vote as Jews, as a nation.

Somehow, this important point falls to the wayside in the midst of all the pre-election rhetoric. The politicking leading up to elections is focused on relations with the United States, Iran, security, the peace process (or lack thereof), socioeconomic issues, corruption, and settlements. Yes, we are voting tomorrow, but this doesn't mean that we don't have a responsibility to keep working on our Zionist ideals.

Zionism is not static. It evolves and matures, mirroring our progress as a nation and as a people.

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Stav Shaffir's recent empowering, incendiary, viral speech in the Knesset defines what Zionism is today, to our generation, yet leaves out one important element - what Zionism means for the diaspora. The vote tomorrow is not only important for Israelis, but for Jews across the globe because it solidifies the fact that we have a home, today, tomorrow and for the future.

Despite the fact that there are many debates on the question of whether Israel is a democracy in the context of if a state can indeed be both Jewish and democratic, one thing is for sure, our process is a democratic process. Those 5.8 million voters, 1,280 politicians and 25 parties are composed of Jews, Arabs and Druze, Muslims, Bahai and Christians - they are religious and secular, men and women, gay and straight, left, center and right wing.

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Postcards made by an Israeli artist reading "Nausea" with faces of leaders of the different Israeli party leaders distributed in Tel Aviv, ahead of the elections. The word "nausea" in Hebrew rhymes with "elections" or "bechirah."

The political process is messy but I challenge you to find one country where that isn't the case and that isn't run by a dictator.

The one constant is that we are a nation - one of the only in the Middle East - where all of our citizens can voice their opinion and influence leadership through a transparent, democratic election - tomorrow we will see the outcome, and tomorrow we will still be Am Yisrael.


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Tags: Blogger, Zionism, Antisemitism, Diaspora, Israel Engagement, Politics


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