No one was more surprised than me by the results of last night’s election.
Frankly, I expected Bennett, Shas and Bibi to take an overwhelming majority of seats and that we would wake up this morning to an Israel pushing like a freight train to the right. I was expecting no negotiation with the Palestinians, annexation of the West Bank and striking first against Iran to be our new national agenda.
Why did I think that?
Because, when it comes to Israel, I have been living under a microscope, that’s why.
Unfortunately, I am not in Israel, I am not at the cafes or the beaches of Tel Aviv. I am not on Sheinkin Street or Sderot Rothschild. I don’t spend my Friday afternoon caffeine buzz (after being filled up with Hafuchs and gossip with friends at said cafes), struggling to try and get through a few articles on the Hebrew version of Haaretz and watching Israeli talk shows on Arutz 1, 2, or 7. I no longer spend Shabbat going to beautiful places like Jerusalem, Caesaria, Banias, Rosh Hanikra, places where I would be constantly reminded of the beauty, awe, triumph and heartbreak that are both representative of Israel and the Jewish people.
Instead, most of my information on Israel comes from English speaking immigrants like me, the vast majority of whom, unlike me, are ultra Orthodox or modern Orthodox (or something in between), many of whom are in the settler movement or just firmly entrenched in a right wing view.
For the last months, I have tried to eloquently argue with them in social media, and when I could no longer be eloquent, I have bowed out of the conversation. I have bitten my tongue as I have watched others, braver people than myself, argue. I have heard over and over again that those of us on the left wing are misinformed, manipulated, apathetic, we care more about Palestinians than Jews, we are traitors to the State of Israel and to the Jewish people.
While I did not believe the labels, it took me until last night , as the projections started rolling in, to understand that what I did let myself believe, was that in the years since I stopped having an Israeli address, that Israel had actually moved more to the right.
That’s what happens when you live under a microscope. That magnification can let you see something so close up that you lose perspective, that you see no background or foreground, you have no long range view.
You only have details.
I actually believed the things I read, that the left wing had largely retreated to the cafes, no longer caring about Israel or at least not caring about politics. I believed that like me, they had given up arguing and fighting. I believed that the right wing view was representative of Israel today.
I’ve never been so happy to be wrong in my life.