To Vote for the Jew or the Party?

The votes have been counted and the results are in — the world leader who has been the most outspoken throughout his tenure as Prime Minister of Canada, when it came to supporting Israel, has lost the election. In his place, a new political party and a young charismatic leader with a very familiar name, Trudeau; Trudeau’s father, Pierre, was Prime Minister some 3 decades earlier. Many Canadian Jews are holding their breath as Prime Minister Harper prepares to exit and Prime Minister Trudeau to enter. Will Trudeau carry on where Harper left off in his unconditional support of Israel? Most of us think not, but I will reserve full judgement for now until we see his actions…

As a Zionist living in the Diaspora, I struggle as most others do with similar fears. As we have seen recently in the headlines, from every corner of the world, Israel is once again vilified for defending itself in the face of terror. In the case of the current ‘intifada’ a more accurate assessment of the media is its inexcusable misreporting, if not rewriting of the narrative. And those of us who love Israel and support Israel and who even sometimes criticize Israel, feel helpless. The recurring question that Jews and Jewish communities everywhere have is: What can we do to fight the media bias? The ugly perceptions that some of my own friends have, Jewish and non, based on the misrepresentation of the truth, is completely understandable… it’s what they see. So with this in mind, the loss of Prime Minister Harper’s steadfast and public support of Israel becomes amplified for many Canadian Jews. With this in mind, it would seem crystal clear how a Zionist would have to vote…

In my riding, however, many of the Jews had an added complexity when deciding whom to vote for. The incumbent is a member of the Harper government who many were unhappy with and the challenger, a Jewish candidate running as Trudeau’s Liberal representative. Not only a Jew but also a staunch supporter of Israel, a community minded person and a well-respected person in the general community as well. He is well known and seemed to be the perfect person to replace the incumbent in our riding… except for one thing — he is with the ‘wrong’ party. How can a Zionist vote against the party that has so strongly and with conviction supported Israel, when most others have not; when even our so-called allies have been silent?

Do I vote for the Jew who I know will bring the voices of my community to parliament and who I know will support Israel even though he may be one of only a few voices? Or do I vote for the incumbent who under normal circumstances would never receive my vote but when it comes to Israel, is with the ‘right’ party? But these are not normal circumstances… For some the decision is easy and I understand both sides.

When friends asked me who I was going to vote for, I told them I hadn’t decided yet because I didn’t want to get it wrong. I didn’t even tell my kids… who this year were old enough to understand what an election is and they were learning about it at Jewish day school… Quite surprisingly my 7 year old came home on Election Day and said, Dad, you have to vote for Harper because he loves Israel. I loved that he knew that and that he felt compelled to instruct me how to vote.

Before I voted, I envisioned my perfect world, my having my cake and eating it too scenario, and that would be the Jewish candidate winning in my local riding but Harper winning the election. That would be the best of both worlds, right? But how can I risk not voting for the party that I know will shout from the tree tops when most all other world leaders are silent and when we know there are so few friends of Israel ‘out there’. As I stood behind the voting booth, I was overcome with emotion. I thought to myself: I am a Canadian voting in my country’s national election and casting my vote for Israel. This was a profound moment for me and I felt like I was casting a vote in my first election (I’m 48 and have voted many times). When I dropped my ballot in the box, it was over. All the noise became quiet. It’s a little like dropping the wedding invitations in the mailbox… at that point, you can’t go back. In my case, at least for now, I did what I did, and I can’t go back.

The election is now over and despite my one little vote, whoever I cast it for, Harper is out and I hold my breath to see what Trudeau will do. Will I be able to be proud of my Prime Minister and his stance on Israel? Will the next Israeli I meet on the streets of Tel Aviv thank me for my country’s support?

For now, I am happy for the man who I believe will represent my riding well and with Harper out, his victory may be more important than ever. I am proud that a member of my Jewish community, will do what ever he can to make the lives of all his constituents better and will push for a vocal and supportive new government towards Israel. If not, there’s always 4 years from now…

About the Author
David is a Canadian born Zionist who spent 10 years as a development director for the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg and the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba. In 2014 he established his own consulting firm, Protexia, specializing in creative philanthropy solutions for the not for profit sector and charities of all sizes. David is an Israeli citizen and competed internationally as a founding member of the Israeli Bobsled Team from 2003-2005.
Related Topics
Related Posts
Comments