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Election Debate Turns Friendly as Reps Praise Israeli Unity

Five different parties praised Israel, and each other as an all-out pre-election debate took a friendly turn and promoted aliyah.
By Ben Bresky
First Publish: 1/22/2013, 11:16 AM

A representative of the Shas party and Meretz virtually "shook hands" following a live video debate that was broadcast over Arutz Sheva - Israel National Radio. To download the show click here.

Israel Vibes, a new online video production outlet hosted the debate using the Google+ Hangouts feature. Five different political parties took part. Following the debate, Shem Tov Menachem of Shas said he was so impressed by the warm feelings of his rivals that he wanted to "shake hands" with Laura Wharton of Meretz after the video finished.

The program was hosted by hosted by David Lev of Aliyah Magazine and Israeli author Ellis Shuman. It was filmed live at Pomeranz Book Store in Jerusalem. The guests broadcast from their own separate locations on their individual computers. The show was coordinated by Avraham Venismach of Israel National Radio's Aliyah Fever podcast.

Participating the the program were Ashley Perry of Yisrael Beiteinu, Rabbi Dov Lipman of Yesh Atid, Laura Wharton of Meretz, Shem Tov Menachem of Shas, Alon Tal of HaTenuah and Uri Bank of Bayit Yehudi.

Each representative was able to ask a question of another representative. Many were biting questions that dealt with the pressing issues of the day such as draft deferments, political corruption, the Two State Solution, and more.

However the end of the program took a positive turn, which was by design. Each representative was asked to make a personal statement about what they loved about Israel.

Lev, acting as moderator stated, "we can work together as a nation. Israel isn't a boxing ring 24/7."

Rabbi Dov Lipman of Yesh Atid commented, "the Jewish people were divided into 12 tribes. Every tribe had their approach and focus. But they functioned together as one unit."

Ashley Perry of Yisrael Beitenu echoed the sentiment stating, "the Jewish people are like a body, all of us with our different opinions, but we are all part of the same body."

Laura Wharton from Meretz said she was impressed by "the emphasis on education in this country. Until we found the natural gas reserves, we were a country without natural resources. But our real natural resource is our people. The people that come here and live here are what makes Israel great."

Alon Tal of the HaTenuah party related, "the original Zionist thinkers had a desire to restore the indigenous people to the land of Israel. I think in the next 100 years, our challenge will be to care for that land. I am encouraged that we all share that impulse to care for the environment, despite our differences."

Uri Bank of Bayit Yehudi said, "I have been privileged to work in the Knesset and I have seen unity in the hallways even amongst people that disagree." He related a story of seeing two Knesset Members who represented different demographics discussing a bill. "I saw them sit down and really listen to each other."

Shem Tov Menachem of Shas mentioned the volunteer medics and other groups that give of their time and energy around the clock. "If you have a kippah or no kippah, Russian, Sephardi, Ashkenazi, Yemenite, we all bring such a wonderful chessed. When I come home from abroad and see Tel Aviv from the window of the plane, I still feel the excitement every single time." he said.

All the participants encouraged Jewish people living abroad to make aliyah and move to Israel.

To listen to the full debate as a downloadable audio podcast click here. To watch the video on the Israel Vibes website click here.

Israel votes, you watch. Live from Jerusalem, watch the Arutz Sheva election special sponsored by the Orthodox Union OU Israel Center today, Tuesday January 22nd from 9:00PM - 2:00AM Israel time / 2:00PM - 7:00PM Eastern Standard Time. Your phone calls will be taken. For more info click here.