Peta Jones Pellach
Teacher and activist in Jerusalem

Waiting for Inspiration

Watching the election campaign does not inspire me with hope.

Mostly, I identify three groups of candidates:

  1. Former soldiers each trying to be more macho than the next. This group assumes that voters will see a direct link between military achievements and the ability to lead in a political setting – an unsubstantiated assumption which is largely unchallenged. Their deriders are from the same group, downgrading or even slandering the military successes of their opponents.
  2. Those who revile anyone who disagrees with them and speak in hateful, violent language. Sadly, this is the modus operandi of many in the current government and has become a norm in the political culture.
  3. Those who seem to be directionless, lost in politics, constantly reacting to what others are saying and without anything with which to inspire us.

As I look back on my categories, I realise that there are some candidates who can be included in all three. Sad, isn’t it?

Worst of all in terms of my vision for Israel is that the women candidates seem to have disappeared from prominence.

The new “popular” parties – at least according to the latest polls – do not seem aware that women matter at all.

There are only a few days until the lists close and we will know precisely who is running with whom. I am still hoping that someone will inspire me and that there will be a party with the wisdom to know that women are more than half the population and that women vote!

A few days ago, the leaders of the parties received a letter in the name of the “Artziot 2019” coalition which asked them to do two things:

  1. Have 50 percent women in realistic positions
  2. Have a platform that includes social agendas that touch upon gender equality.

The letter opens with a reminder that on March 15, 1929, following the Jerusalem city committee’s demand for tax payment, Ze’ev Jabotinsky responded with the following:

“I wish with all of my heart to participate in the expenses of the city committee, but until there is a place and a part for women in running the business of the committee, my name will not be included in the list of your institutions tax payers.”

Ninety years ago, the hero of the right and a person greatly admired even by those whose political views differ from his stood up for principles of equal representation. He also recognised that involving women in leadership positively affects the nature of decisions. At his time, there was no evidence for this position; he based his position on instinct.

His prescience was remarkable. A recent study done in Canada, where 50 percent of ministers are women, noted a vast improvement in public health, along with a decrease in death rates. This was traced to women’s wisdom in defining priorities and creating policies that worked.

Health is just one of the issues where women’s influence is needed. Research has shown that involving women in international relations can help bring peaceful solutions.  That is certainly hopeful – but a long way off for us.

Meanwhile, the Elections 2019 coalition has identified five key issues for the welfare of women and society which can and should be part of every party’s platform:

  1. Parity in the job market – ending pay gaps between men and women, which harm the income of the family unit.
  2. Equal representation in decision-making centres throughout the public sphere – promoting legislation which supports women being a part of policy-making, for the benefit of the whole of society.
  3. An end to the exclusion of women in all public spaces, locally and nationally
  4. Personal safety – policy reform regarding violence against women; increased public investment on prevention of violence against women, educating, rehabilitating and treating violent men.
  5. Gender-conscious education from preschool – promoting programs for equal gender perception among all children in Israel.

It is noted above and has been observed around the world that what is good for women is good for all of society.

Would it be too much to ask that our candidates take note of the letter and start to focus on what is good for society?

About the Author
A fifth generation Australian, Peta made Aliyah in 2010. She is Senior Fellow of the Kiverstein Institute, Director of Educational Activities for the Elijah Interfaith Institute, secretary of the Jerusalem Rainbow Group for Jewish-Christian Encounter and Dialogue, a co-founder of Praying Together in Jerusalem and a teacher of Torah and Jewish History. She has visited places as exotic as Indonesia and Iceland to participate in and teach inter-religious dialogue. She also broadcasts weekly on SBS radio (Australia) with the latest news from Israel. Her other passions are Scrabble and Israeli folk-dancing.
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