Shas and Meretz Candidates Shake Hands at Debate

Representatives from the leading parties celebrated Israel’s democracy in a videocasted event.

At the Israel Elections 2013 English language debate held at Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue last week, the discussion started out “with Western-style gentility.” Later, when the audience was allowed to ask questions, the atmosphere became volatile, and security guards were needed to remove disruptive attendees from the hall.

Quite a different experience took place on Thursday in the Israeli Pre Election Special Debate produced by IsraelVibes Interactive Broadcasting, in conjunction with Aliyah Magazine. The live videocast, which also screened on Ynet and Israel National News, was a rare display of unity among the different political parties. The debate was oriented toward English speakers – those who have already made aliyah and those who are thinking about moving to Israel in the future.

You can view the video of the debate here.

Under the theme “Celebrating Israeli Democracy”, each of the participating representatives expressed their party’s platform as it related to new olim. In addition, each representative offered a personal message as to why Jews should come live in Israel. The most important issues facing Israel were, of course, also discussed.

I served as co-host of the videocasted event alongside David Lev from Aliyah Magazine. Behind the scenes was Avraham Venismach.

Something very unique occurred at the end of the live broadcast. Menachem Shemtov of Shas shook hands with Laura Wharton of Meretz.

Only in an Internet debate could you have an ultra-Orthodox Sephardic rabbi shake hands (in a virtual handshake) with a woman candidate on a left-wing party list.

Maybe that, more than anything else, offers hope for the Israeli political scene after the upcoming elections this week.

See also:

I Host a Pre-Election Special Debate

About the Author
Ellis Shuman made aliya to Jerusalem as a teenager, served in the IDF, was a founding member of a kibbutz, and now lives on Moshav Neve Ilan. Ellis is the author of ‘The Burgas Affair’ – a crime thriller set in Israel and Bulgaria; ‘Valley of Thracians’ - a suspense novel set in Bulgaria; and 'The Virtual Kibbutz' - a collection of short stories. His writing has appeared in The Times of Israel, The Huffington Post, The Jerusalem Post, Israel Insider, and on a wide range of Internet websites. Ellis lived with his wife for two years in Bulgaria, and blogs regularly about Israel, Bulgaria, books, and writing.