DVAR ISRAEL: SHABBAT, SEPTEMBER 28, 2019
VOTING FOR THE FIRST TIME BY MATAN BEN AMI
The elections have been at the center of Israeli news for quite some time now. When friends or colleagues meet in Israel, among the first questions is naturally, “so… who did you vote for?” even though in Canada that may sound rude. But in Israel a long and deep conversation about everything that matters to those people politically is the natural progression. At the end of any heated conversation between Israelis, even if they are not on the same political side it usually ends with, “yala ah” which means, “goodbye my brother” or “tova siha, naim le’hakir haya” which means, “it was a great conversation, nice to meet you”. From my point of view, this exchange is very Israeli. Despite what may appear on the surface to be extremely heated conversations or even disagreements, you can see that everybody wants to live side by side and have a good relationship. It’s fine that you have a different opinion but we want to live together, because if we won’t live together in peace inside the country, we won’t manage to succeed and survive through the problems that are facing us every single day. Whether it is security matters or even social ones, we, all the Jewish people around the world, need to stick together. In this way we will manage to overcome all or our problems, and succeed, even if there are bumps along the way.
Just as I began this incredible year of service in Toronto, I voted in the national elections for the first time. Exercising my right to vote in the government elections, to be an active part of the political change in Israel, voicing my opinion in the political world was a very powerful experience for me. One of the main reasons that I was so excited to vote is because Bibi is the only prime minister that I remember. I only remember his opinions and his coalitions. For me, it is a little bit crazy that he’s been in power for more than 10 years. Israel has many challenges, including security, the treatment of minorities and holocaust survivors to name just a few. I think it is time for change with new opinions in the government, and even a new prime minister. I think Israelis simply got used to Benjamin Netanyahu and that’s why many people say they don’t want to give up on the “good horse”. The situation now is stable and people are afraid of change. If things change, then there is a chance they could be worse. But to me, that’s the problem! People are used to the mediocrity and got used preferential treatment of some populations over others, and even got used to corruption. But even more concerning is that, many don’t see anyone else as possibly bringing about change and solving problems in Israel.
As we find ourselves in a similar situation at the end of the second round of elections as we did after the first, perhaps the close results might offer a possibility of the thing that scares so many. Change. A different type of coalition, with different voices and different priorities for Israel. Perhaps the people have spoken once again and have shown that while some fear change; others realize that the time to move forward has come. As we near Rosh Ha’Shanah and bring in a new year full of possibilities and usher in the yamim ha’noraim, the Days of Awe; a time for repentance, taking stock and making changes, let us hope that a new government will be formed ready to learn from the past and forge forward toward a hopeful tomorrow. Only the weeks and months that lie ahead will tell the story. We will do our best to keep you updated and to share our opinions with you. Shabbat Shalom and Shanah Tova.