These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Election Time

Posted on October 16, 2012 by Ari Abelman

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From my blog:

Election day in America is coming up soon.  I just recently sent in my absentee ballot.  And Israel has just called early elections (a phenomenon the does not exist in the American system) for January 22nd, 2013.

I’ve always found voting exciting, and I enjoy watching election returns come in in the evening.  In 2000, I remember my dad putting me to bed (I was 11) and telling me that it looked like Al Gore was going to win (that didn’t quite work out…).  I don’t really remember anything form 2004, but I certainly remember all of the celebrations in 2008. Unfortunately, I will probably miss out on the festivities this year, since election returns from America will probably be coming in between about 2 AM and 6 AM Israel time.  When I wake up in the morning, it will already be over unless it’s really close (which I guess it could be).

Israeli elections will be another story altogether, and I’m very excited that they are happening while I’m here.  I obviously can’t vote, but I’ll be paying close attention.  The question of whether a newly formed center-left coalition might be able to beat Netanyahu’s Likud party is an interesting one.  Unfortunately, it seems like this coalition would be headed by Ehud Olmert; I find Israel’s tendency to recycle Prime Ministers (and its inability to find new ones) a bit disconcerting.

The role of a Jewish non-Israeli in an Israeli election is a bit unique.  Of course non-citizens cannot vote, but Israel’s policies have great impact on the entire Jewish people.  Consider, for example, how shaming it would be for all Jews if Israel were to indefinitely control a large Palestinian population without allowing that population civil or political rights*.  One might even call it Chillul Hashem on a massive scale… not that I want to stir up controversy in the comments. No, siree.

But in all seriousness, Jews around the world are affected by Israel’s policies in myriad ways.  Of course, virtually everyone in the world is massively affected by American elections, and we don’t let them all vote.  Right or wrong, only citizens get to vote, in Israel just like everywhere else.  Nonetheless, I know I have a stake in the Israeli election, and I will be following it closely.

*Note that I am not necessarily saying that this is the current state of affairs.  I think it is still possible to argue that Israel’s control over the Palestinians is not indefinite, although that argument gets harder to make with every passing day.