The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom and election results

24th January 2013
Shabbat Shalom everyone! Elections are over but as always the opinions abound
Ouch! My head is exploding from the constant talk of elections, Lapid, Likud, Bennet, Tsippi, Sheli………. how much can they all say on the subject? All the old, defunct MK’s have been dusted off and the smell of mothballs removed so that they can give their opinions, which, when one comes down to it, bear no water until Mr Netanyahu, or whomsoever, successfully creates a feasible coalition and forms the government! It serves no purpose to state that so and so will be Foreign Minister or whats-his-name will be Defence Minister…………….. because we don’t know who will be in or whether Tsippi will once again be the “Runaway Bride”.

David Horovitz, initiator of the excellent “Times of Israel” is, yet again, the journalist who put some logic into the avalanche of words in his latest piece “Israeli Elections – What just happened.

David correctly states that, despite international media statements to the contrary, Israeli voters moved toward the political centre, despite those who voted for the “Bayit ha Yehudi” party, who also have a place in the Knesset, if not in this government. Since the majority voted for centrist parties, in order to be representative the Government coalition should also be centrist but we cannot know yet.

The biggest surprise was the incredible, nay meteoric success of Yair Lapid’s “Yesh Atid” (there is a future) party. Yair Lapid grew up in a political family with a journalist father who went into politics late in life on a clearly anti-religious banner – his son Yair is not a left winger, is not anti-religious but does demand a population that receives rights in exchange for the fulfillment of national responsibilities. He believes it unfair that Yeshiva students, who do not serve our country, receive preference in housing, receive a stipend, receive special mortgages, while young soldiers coming out the army do not have anywhere near the same rights. that the heavy load of defending our country should be evenly shared, an aim he shares with Bennet’s Jewish Home party and most of the other non-religious parties but opposed by the religious and Arab parties. The level of Arab voters rose, at the last minute, and saved the Arab parties. Yair Lapid’s first political statement was that he had no intention of rushing into aggressive opposition with, as he says, the likes of Haneen Zoabi (the Arab MK who was on the Mavi Marmara protest ship) but rather intends forming part of a coalition with Mr Netanyahu at the helm. Kol ha Kavod to this new young politician, his first move was a good move for the country. He said he is willing to sit and discuss the formation of a coalition with anyone. One thing is for sure, this Knesset will put the subject of national service for all very high on its list of priorities, rewarding those who serve.

I can now tell you for whom I voted. I voted for Shaul Mofaz, former Commander in Chief of the IDF, the leader of what remains of Kadimah since Tsippi Livni split the party in two. I felt that he served our country with honour, understands defence, knows what it means to be a poor immigrant who built himself up by the skin of his own knuckles, recognised six months ago that the government was headed for a 40 billion shekel deficit (and was derided publicly for saying so), speaks Farsi and understands Iran. I thought he had all the requirements but he is an honest broker and that doesn’t always work in politics even though his campaign was voted the best. He is in the Knesset but he only got 2 seats. I am interested to see if the future Prime Minister will recognise his worth and make him Defence Minister or not.

The final results are

Just one piece of useless information – Lapid in Arabic is Maashal!!!!! Do you think that will help us with our relations with Hamas?
After voting I jumped in the car and took my daughter and grandchildren off to the beach. The weather was glorious, sunny and warm, and just 45 minutes from Jerusalem is Kibbutz Palmachim and a wonderful beach. It was a terrific escape from the TV and the constant opinions expressed. As I watched the three children running and playing on the sand and collecting shells it put everything into perspective because if not for them, for whom do we want a secure future? Zvi, of course, met his parliament, which is no longer in the gas station having moved to the cafe in the University, and they sorted out the coalition, government, ministers in two hours and then came home for supper.
Last night our dear friends Drs. Mickey and Shlomit Keren gave a presentation at the Begin Centre about the research into their latest book, delving into the files finding the formation of the Jewish Brigade during WW1 and the stories of the individual soldiers. The idea of the Jewish Brigade ran concurrently with Weizman’s work on synthetic acetone for the British war effort, Prime Minister Lloyd Georges encouragement of the Balfour Declaration and Jabotinsky’s determination to form the Jewish Brigade. The soldiers came from all corners of the UK, mostly Yiddishe speakers fresh from the shtetl, from Canada, USA, and all points of the compass. This strange mix of humanity went to join “Kitcheners Army” to free the Land of Israel.
The book describes their shock at arriving in Port Said and their travel overground to the Land of Israel – “with a pillar of dust before us and a fire (from the engines) during the night, just like the original Exodus from Egypt.
This story of Brigades 38 and 39 of the Royal Fusiliers with special Magen David’s on their epaulettes, is utterly fascinating in a book well worth reading.
So we are moving forward to a different future, with influences that appear to be very positive. Hopefully the handsome and charismatic Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid Party will bring a fresh attitude and a stronger move for change than was possible with the former coalition.
We will spend Shabbat dinner with our children who are imminently expectant parents then on Shabbat lunch we head down the road to friends for Tu B’Shvat Shabbat lunch and then out in the evening to eat again (phew) for a Tu B’Shvat supper!!! Oh sorry, you don’t know what Tu’B’Shvat is? It is the new year for trees! Ecology started long before Al Gore you know! Tu B’Shvat is the 15th day of the month of Shvat and the time when one plants a tree and thinks of the renewal of the earth of this beautiful land. (The Almond has blossomed, and the Sun is Shining Brightly, Birds from Every Roof-Top, Welcome the Arrival of the Holiday)
This festival which began as the collection of the tithe of the olive harvest has become yet another example of why Israel is the only country in the world which has dramatically increased the number of trees, creating a reality so different from when those Yiddish speaking Jews of the Jewish Brigade arrived in a dusty, barren land after the Ottomans extreme deforestation. We are now truly a land of milk and honey, productive and green. Indeed today, as I was driving home along the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road with my friend Betty I saw the first Shkediah (Almond Blosssom) at the side of the road. They are so beautiful……. by next week we will go walking to see the phenomenal sight of clouds of pink and white Almond Blossom covering the hillsides around Jerusalem. Fresh clear air, thoughts of elections behind us and time to enjoy the beauty of this amazing country – pure and simple.
Did you plant a tree today? I had one planted in my name for my birthday from a very special man who searched for the appropriate birthday gift for me and found it!!!!!
I will leave you with the glorious voice of Cantor Helfgot singing “Ani Ma’amin” – “I Believe” which is a prayer, a blessing and a statement of deepest beauty. and, as is appropriate to a new period in Israeli politics he also sings “Shehechiyanu” the prayer of joyful thanks that we arrived to this time.
Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem – the most beautiful and exciting city in the world.