March 16, 2015
Elections are upon us. Polls open tomorrow at 7am, close at 9pm. Results begin to come in at 10pm tomorrow. The battle is being fought until the end: tonight in a move to court Bayt HaYehudi voters, Netanyahu officially stated that he is against the establishment of a Palestinian State. Herzog and Livni also dropped a political plot twist and announced that while they said that they would rotate the Prime Ministership in 2 years, they will no longer rotate. This is a huge deal; I know from many conversations that many people on the left were hesitant to vote for their united left-center party if Livni was the PM. Meanwhile the Joint-Arab Party has changed the face of politics here; if they manage to convince enough Palestinians to vote instead of boycott the election, they could have upwards of 14 seats in the Knesset. And the Haredi women party is pushing for acknowledgement of women's rights within the religious communities.
If this sounds complicated to you, just know, it's a soap opera here. Dramas play out, lovers are crossed, and someone wakes up from a coma.
But it's so much more than that. This little place garners so much attention worldwide and the decision of a vote impacts so many lives. Especially the lives of Palestinians living in the territories under military law who are not eligible to vote. (The biggest contradiction being the Palestinians who work in the printing shop that prepared the materials for the ballots for tomorrow who are themselves unable to vote.) Gaza has barely been mentioned at all during the campaign cycle, this summer was swept under a rug. Israelis are more concerned with economic redistribution and the expensive cost of living here, yet the mainstream conversation barely touches the grim realities of occupation or the connection between high food prices in grocery stores to the subsidization of settlements. According to +972 mag, 60% of Israelis polled believe that there will be no progress on the peace process regardless of who forms the next government, "because there is no solution to the disputes between the two sides."
Yet, there are some fireball politicians. Notably Stav Shafir, 29 year old and 2nd seat on the Labor party's list. She made a name for herself as part of the social movement protests in the summer of 2011. But I noticed her after she made this incredible speech during an impromptu session of the Knesset.
She called out the right and their financial corruption, ideological corruption, and perversion of political ideals. She'll be assured a seat tomorrow in the next session of Knesset. And for that, I'm grateful. I'll be voting tomorrow for the first time, let's hope that the results leads to something changing.