Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

The morning after

I dragged myself to bed, at one in the morning feeling uneasy. When I awoke this morning and realized what the final results of the municipal elections were and where the highest turnouts, were, I got really angry.

After years of working to present a positive image of Israel to the outside world I am not unaware of the warts in our society as a whole, our leaders in particular and some of their policies, which tend to lead us like lemmings to the abyss.

I grew up in a society where good citizenship meant looking out for the less fortunate, participating in local affairs whether the PTA at the school or the local and national elections. Albeit,  I left that society early on. Israel was the passion of my life and I came at the age of 18 and have spent most of my life here.

I do not compare us to any other society. On one hand we are a multi ethnic mixture par excellence. Jews here have literally come from the four corners of the world and most of us have borne heavy emotional loads. Many have never been exposed to a mature democratic society or understand  the value of a parliamentary system, but that should have nothing to do with core values.

Moslems, Druze, Christians, Chercassians, hoping that I have not omitted anyone, also have differing cultural and religious backgrounds and also, bear heavy emotional loads.

However, most citizens of Israel have similar aspirations: Economic and personal security, family unity, education for the future, protection whether through our excellent health system or our institutions. We value the freedom to move from place to place and to pray or not, according to our beliefs, as well as to express our opinions, freely.

Somehow, we do not understand that everything has a price and if we simply allow apathy and indifference to overcome us, then we are in danger of having to pay that price.

Citizens of Tel Aviv, you should feel ashamed today as I do. Not that Huldai the incumbent has been re-elected, but that you didn’t go out to vote.

I am not aware of how many people who were at Rianna’s concert voted, or any of those filling the bars and restaurants.

I am aware though, of how many of us went out week after week, two summers back, to protest for social justice.

Aware, of the sweating, shoving and innate, togetherness. Aware of the real suffering of residents of South Tel Aviv, the dwellers around Tachana Merkazit, the neighborhoods, parking, lack of housing and exploitation of the vulnerable citizens.

I am not aware of how many of those, over a million citizens, for whom the traffic stopped in Tel Aviv were among the pathetic, voter turn out.

In a radio interview this morning Prof Shlomo Avinieri said that “Protests are sexy. It’s a quick fix and one feels that they have “done something” just by being there” Going to vote is a chore, no one sees you and excuses as to why not, are easy to find to justify ones lack of participation”

The negative issues which affect most people’s lives are left to mushroom, while politicians tell us that the only thing we have to worry about is whether not Iran will eliminate us, or perhaps an earthquake?

I will not accept that it’s merely apathy this is our life, our future at stake. What can we expect now from National elections where the future image, of the State of Israel will be at stake?

Sexy or not protests are important, but maybe we should also look at our educational system, at our behaviour towards others and our responsibility towards our society.

In Hebrew it’s called “ichpatiut”. Start with the kids maybe they will imbue a sense of civil culture.

From throwing paper wrappers on the streets not standing up on a bus for an older person, letting anger get the better of us in puerile situations and violence when we are truly out of control.

Israel is where we are guys…the land, Ha’aretz…its precious, cherish it!

The morning after …..the sun rose.

About the Author
Zelda Harris first came to Israel 1949, aged 18. After living through the hardships of the nascent state, she returned to England in 1966. She was a founding member of the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry. In 1978, she returned with her family to Israel and has been active in various spheres of Israeli Society since. Together with the late Chaim Herzog, she founded CCC for Electoral Reform, was the Director of BIPAC in Israel, and a co-founder of Metuna, the Organisation for Road Safety, which received the Speaker of Knesset Quality of Life Award for saving lives on the roads and prevention of serious injury. She is now a peace activist, blogger for Times of Israel and is writing her life story.