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      Op-Ed: Election Dreams and Nightmares

      Published: Thursday, March 23, 2006 11:58 PM
      Even though Ehud Olmert has come out with an announcement that his main goal in office will be to destroy Jewish settlements and hand them over to Hamas, people still aren't sure he and Kadima are leftists.


      So, here is what real people in Israel are talking about a week before the elections.

      A cab driver told me that all the politicians are corrupt, and even though Ehud Olmert is corrupt, and was the worst mayor Jerusalem ever had, still, Binyamin Netanyahu is also corrupt (wasn't specific, and I don't know what he's referring to); and anyway, he used to chauffeur Mrs. Netanyahu to pick up her son after kindergarten, and she always came late, and the kindergarten teacher once left the kid alone with a security guard, and Mrs. Netanyahu was really upset, but she should have come on time. So, how can you vote for a man who has a wife like that?

      A friend told me that it didn't matter whom they voted for, because they voted Likud last time and they got the Disengagement anyway.

      I went to Hebrew University to speak to students (the student union invited me). I found myself in a debate with Tzvia Greenfield, a Haredi-religious woman running with Meretz (!), Israel's most secular leftist party. At one point, after she gave the usual "go back to the '67 borders and all your problems will be solved" speech, I asked her and the students if any one of them had read the Hamas Covenant. Not one student had.

      And Mrs. Future Knesset Member hadn't either. All she could do was wave her hand dismissively and say: "Anyway, they don't mean it."

      Even though Ehud Olmert has come out with an announcement that his main goal in office will be to destroy Jewish settlements and hand them over to Hamas, people still aren't sure he and Kadima are leftists.

      "You have Tzachi Hanegbi [who used to be right-wing, but I don't know what happened to him] canceling out Shimon Peres, so they are really not left-wing," some normally very intelligent person told me seriously.

      Most people I ask are still not sure who to vote for, and the elections are on Tuesday. I'm not sure who I'm voting for, either.

      It would be much easier, my husband said, if we could have an election and vote against the parties we didn't want. Whoever got the least votes would form the government. Now, that's an idea with which most Israelis would agree. It would be so much easier.

      Kadima is sinking in the polls, but not enough and not nearly fast enough. But they are down another three this week, and I predict they'll get even less when the vote is held. The polls now say they'll get 36. Likud has unfortunately lost its power-base. Ariel Sharon destroyed the party with the Disengagement and then by leaving to form Kadima. He's discredited the party and those he brow-beat into going along with him. If they get 15 seats, they'll be lucky.

      Avigdor Liberman is looking good, with 11 seats. This Russian immigrant, who used to be Netanyahu's campaign manager years ago, is known to be right-wing, to live in a settlement, to be secular and to take a hard-line politically against terrorism. The coalition of the National Religious Party and the National Union, with Effie Eitam, whom I deeply respect, has not captured the imagination of those they are supposed to represent: religious Zionists. Settlers felt betrayed by them for not doing more. I don't know what they could have done, but their supporters feel otherwise. It's predicted they'll bring in 9 seats.

      The Labor Party with its social agenda and unreasonable workers demands is racking up 21 seats. If the polls are right, and if Kadima and Labor get together, then what we'll have is a push to destroy homes and jobs, while at the same time putting further unrealistic and catastrophic demands on our buckling economy (which under Netanyahu as Finance Minister had made an amazing turnaround).

      I'm still hoping for a miracle: I'd like to wake up in the morning and find out that Kadima has 10 seats, Labor 8, Likud 36, Mafdal-National Union 20, Liberman 15.

      A girl can dream, can't she?