The Ultimate Protest Vote

The undecideds decided to vote anyway; so, they voted for a party that was established to protect and support the people who really built Israel.

Batya Medad,

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The surprise of the Israeli elections - the ultimate protest vote - was the Retirees party. Many people walked out of the polling booth, after putting the little paper in the envelope, still unsure which set of politicians could be trusted to run our beleaguered country. The undecideds decided to vote anyway; so, they voted for a party that was established to protect and support the people who really built Israel, the "people's party of the retirees and pensioners", the Gimlayim. They ended up with an unbelievable eight (projected) seats.

Outside of better pensions and other related issues, they truly are the party without ideology. Kadima's Meir Shitrit claims that his party is the one
without ideology, but he's wrong. It does have an ideology: it's the "me and now, and who cares about tomorrow or our forefathers" party. Kadima is selfishness to the extreme. People who voted for the Retirees care about tomorrow; at least, they want those who contributed, whatever their roles, to be compensated with dignity. There's no dignity in Kadima.

From what I understand, the Retirees party the only one that seems sincere about getting J. Jonathan Pollard home to Israel. His former Mossad "handler", Rafi Eitan, is one of the party leaders. But even he has stated that, outside of their specific socio-economic issues, the party's Knesset Members will have the freedom to vote however they choose. I hope that they do improve the pensions and other old-age benefits. I'm getting closer to the "official age" and many of my friends are retiring after the required thirty years as civil servants. I only began teaching English a few years ago and won't have a "pension" from my previous jobs. I wonder if people like me will benefit from their proposed laws.

Every Israeli election has its new "big" party and they've all been buried. Free Center was one, and Shinui was the most recent. They all have similar political ideas, and in every case, between internal personality conflicts and a lack of "historic" ideology, they go out of favor very quickly. I presume that the same will happen with the Retirees party.

And why did Likud lose so badly, shrunken to 11-12 seats? Very simple. It just lost its "popular touch". Binyamin Netanyahu showed his toughness in slashing subsidies to the poor and large families, and Limor Livnat showed her total lack of "reality engagement" by engineering and supporting the destructive Dovrat education restructure plan. And the rest of the politicians there were just weak and pathetic, allowing Sharon to bulldoze the once proud, pro-settlement party into the one that destroyed Gush Katif and northern Samaria. It only stands for memories. Almost thirty years after Menachem Begin finally brought it into national power for the first time, it seems to be breathing its last; though one never knows in Israeli politics. One thing for sure, it doesn't seem to have a strong "next generation". By betraying its original ideology, it has nothing to offer. After Begin gave the Sinai to Egypt in exchange for the world's praises and a promise to develop Gush Katif and preserve Judea, Samaria and Gaza in Israeli hands, its fate was sealed.

Enough has been said over Kadima, the politicians who will promise anything but a land for its people. It's not really a party, since its "let's imagine there's no..." ideology won't keep those ambitious and scheming opportunists together for long.

As for the Yisrael Beitenu Party - it has a great name. Israel is Our Home, which it should be. The party leader, Avigdor Liberman, lives in a community that is not on the "ghetto" side of the wall being built, but he has been preaching "compromise". It is not clear exactly what he really wants, besides power. In his own words, he's "open to all offers...."

Finally, the National Union-National Religious Party did very poorly in the election, only getting maybe nine seats. The National Union would have done just as well on its own, without the NRP. Many voters were repulsed by the NRP and voted for Baruch Marzel's National Jewish Front, which didn't make it in - again. Think of all the wasted votes. Many people I know voted NU-NRP with great trepidation, wary because the ailing Rabbi Benny Elon made a very poor agreement with the dying NRP. By giving the NRP life, it destroyed Moledet, the party that did the most to try to stop Disengagement.

So, to boil it down, I think that should we, G-d willing, survive, we will see more changes in the Israeli political spectrum. Likud is always stronger in the opposition and its only chance of survival is to use those instincts. It still hasn't recovered from Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, and the "cancerous cells" they left in the Likud still haven't been eradicated.

The political scene is just the thing to make our children even more cynical. But there will be great changes and demography is in our favor.

G-d willing, we will survive, v'hamoshiach yavo b'mhaira, b'yameinu, and we will be redeemed, speedily, in our days.