They want you to panic.
They want you to react, rather than to think.
Some are reporting that Zehut is secretly in Netanyahu’s pocket. Others are reporting that Zehut is secretly in Gantz’s pocket. They want you to forget that Zehut is committed only to you, and not to anyone else.
Some are sending around photos from a silly interview Feiglin did on Purim that the network saved and released this past week. Others are creating memes with blatant lies that claim the very opposite of what the Zehut platform says.
Some people are afraid of losing their seats. Parties like Meretz and the New Right and Kulanu and Yisrael Beiteinu and Gesher are rapidly sinking out of sight, and at this point, they will say just about anything to hold on to those seats. With less than 24 hours before the polls open, they are in full panic mode.
So let’s relax and talk about why voting for Zehut tomorrow is the best thing you can do for yourself, for your family, and for the State of Israel.
Like me, a lot of you made aliya from countries where things are very different. In good ways and bad. This means that we have chosen to join our fate to that of the Jewish State, and have put the importance of that above the creature comforts we may have left behind.
I wouldn’t trade being able to live in my own homeland for the things I left behind.
Back in Chicago, I could order from Amazon without fretting over the possibility that my order would be more than $75 and I’d get hit with a massive customs bill. I could go to the store and never have to worry about whether they’d have butter (!), or a thousand different products of every kind. I could watch buildings being built that had existed on paper only 6 months earlier, rather than the average of 8 years it takes for buildings to go from planning to construction here in Israel.
I could buy a car without paying the equivalent of a second car in taxes on the first one, and I could fill up my tank without worrying about whether it would keep me from having money left before my next paycheck came in.
These were all normal things that I willingly gave up for the privilege of being able to live in Israel. A lot of you did the same.
But why? Why should we have to, as Feiglin puts it, “work the longest hours in the West, earn the lowest salaries in the West, and pay the highest prices in the West”? Does that have to be the price of living in our homeland?
Zehut says no.
We pay vast amounts of money in taxes, much of which goes into the pockets of the rich and powerful. The connected and the influential. Israeli dockworkers, who make an average of NIS 30,000 per month, far higher than the average Israeli earns, were recently granted a 15 year moritorium on layoffs. That’s NIS 5.4 million per employee that has been guaranteed by you, the taxpayer. The food cartels – the Dairy Council, the Poultry Council, the Fruit Council, the Vegetable Council, the Olive Council, the Tobacco Council – cartels that set quotas to keep competition out and prices up, make a trip to the grocery store a very expensive proposition.
Zehut says none of this is necessary.
The large labor unions have gotten tired of merely influencing our politics from the outside and have joined the major parties in Knesset. Right, left, it doesn’t matter. If you vote for either the Likud or Blue & White, you are voting for the unions to actually make the laws now. The current chairman of the Histadrut is a member of the Blue & White party, and is their candidate for Finance Minister. It’s like hiring a fox to guard a henhouse.
Zehut says enough is enough.
Today, if you want to send your child to a school outside the “registration area” you’ve been assigned, you can do it, but you have to pay a fine of a thousand shekels per month. If you want to create a new school, so that your children can learn the way you want them to, the Education Ministry will fight you tooth and nail. My daughter graduated from high school last year. The schools here “teach to the test” more than any schools I’ve ever seen, and the Education Ministry has no qualms about changing the structure and content of those tests in the middle of a school year, forcing teachers to feverishly change all of their lesson plans in the middle of that school year, and forcing students to go to the bagrut exams unprepared and afraid. An unstable national curriculum that shifts every time a new Education Minister comes in, leaving your children on shaky and uncertain ground at a time when they should be learning and growing.
Zehut has a simple solution for this. One that has worked in nearly every country in which it’s been implemented, and one that has actually worked here, in Israel, at maternity wards throughout the country.
Expectant mothers used to be locked into the hospital assigned to them the way you’re locked into the school you’re assigned for your children. Then someone came up with the idea of issuing vouchers that mothers could use to pay for maternity care at any hospital they wanted. Maternity wards around the country started competing for those vouchers, and today, they’re the most comfortable and luxurious part of any hospital.
That’s what Zehut is about. That’s what this election is about. Choice. Your ability to choose what to buy and from where. Your ability – your right – to choose how your child is educated.
The ability to choose is the essence of freedom. If you can’t choose, you aren’t free. Full stop.
Many of you, like me, chose to leave our birthplaces to return to our homeland. And we thought that meant we had to accept an economy that stifles innovation. That makes opening a small business a hellish undertaking. And we watch with surprise and despair as so many of our children leave Israel for a world of opportunity that they’ve been denied here.
Tomorrow, the 9th of April, we have a chance to start the process of opening up the State of Israel to its full potential. A potential that will bring Jews from all over the world here. A potential that will keep our children here. Tomorrow, we can bring the change.
Barring a miracle, Zehut isn’t going to be the biggest party, and won’t be forming the next government. But the larger and stronger Zehut is in the coming Knesset, the more good it can do for you.