Tomorrow is groundhog… Sorry I mean election day. So, we are stuck in the same conundrum, who to choose and why.
On one hand we have Netanyahu, with friends like terrorist friendly Ben Gvir, Mr annexation Bennet, “lets pack the courts with loyalists” Ayelet Shaked and “scam the state” Arieh Deri at home. Abroad he has friends like “Lets burn the rainforest” Bolsenaro, “lets hate Jews” Orban and, well, Trump goes without saying.
Let’s just say I don’t see the charm in any of this.
So, if you are the kind of person who is right wing and just loves the status quo you should vote for Blue and White. He will be the kind of prime minister like Itzhak Shamir who once told Thomas Friedman that his vision of politics was to “keep things quiet”. Gantz is your man. He will keep Trumps Deal of the Century with all the goodies given to the settlers, he will keep the economy buzzing merrily along with its exploding inequality. With his blisteringly uninteresting campaign and his bland non politics he did make one charge that does resonate. He, unlike Netanyahu, is not Erdogan. He does really believe in democracy and the rule of law, but mainly the list of things that Gantz is not are the very things he has going for him. He is not an authoritarian, not an overt racist and not a fundamentalist. That and a strong chin are apparently all you need to become the leader of the opposition. So, if you like democracy and the rule of law and dislike fundamentalists, vote for Blue and White!
So, what do we who want a little more change than “democracy is nice” have to vote for? Well to the Left of Blue and White we have the catchily named Avoda-Meretz-Gesher, try and say that after a couple of Goldstar! This party has all the self-confidence of someone with an “I’m with stupid” shirt as shown by their campaign poster with – wait for it – Gantz face on it! That’s right, an actual rival party leader on your own campaign material. Now last election round Meretz campaigned with Stav Shaffir and Yael Cohen Paran and released a wonderful policy proposal on the Green New Deal for Israel. They were talking about the climate crisis and the occupation, two issues that constantly threaten Israel with becoming an unlivable place to live. But no longer! Paran, Shaffir and the booming voice of Ehud Barak warning of apartheid are out. In the new arrangement the big thing is to act normal. “We have Gantz back!” Is the message, together with: “we are normal”. To be fair this is true, they are more “normal”, saner, than Gantz who says he would gladly annex some occupied land and heaven forbid never form a coalition with the majority Arab parties. Yes, they are certainly more pro LGBTQ, secular and anti-racist than Blue and White. Plus, they actually do care about inequality and social justice. So, if your choice is between Blue and White or Avoda-Meretz-Gesher, go for the latter!
However, if you want to go further than just being “normal” and would like actual change in this country, I think a better option is the Joint List this time around. These are the only people talking about the heart wrenching quagmire of occupation. The Joint Lists biggest advantage is at the same time its biggest disadvantage. As the only Arab majority party it becomes a sectarian party by default, which means a huge vote share of the Arab public. On the other hand, I get that Lebanon feeling where people vote for their “ethnic” parties, as oppose to real issues. Following this another problem arises, that some of the people in the party are people you disagree with, like honest to goodness Islamists. I can see this being a deal breaker for some people. I don’t want any religion in politics, not Christianity, not Judaism and not Islam. However, under Ayman Odehs skillful leadership it has moved beyond being a “party of the Arabs” and is starting to act like a genuine left-wing opposition. With pictures of Greta Thunberg and Martin Luther King they feel like the party of hope. So, if you are choosing between Avoda-Meretz-Gesher and The Joint List, go for the latter.
But hey, if you want people with egos as fragile as Oren Hazan crying in HaAcha Gadol because he couldn’t handle meeting Nir Avishai Cohen from Breaking the Silence, then go for it. Vote for Likud or one of the enabler parties.
We won’t have democracy or freedom of speech or an independent judiciary, but we will have King Bibi, or Erdogan.