|Mar 29, 2006||Partial Solar Eclipse (Magnitude 84%, Coverage 81%)||
Check it out: today’s partial eclipse
Yesterday was the first Sunday for me (and a lot of people here) in a looong time.
I miss spending the day around town, knowing I don’t have to worry about work (or Shabbat) for a little while…
• העבודה: מנדטים21
• ישראל ביתנו: מנדטים14
• ש”ס: מנדטים12
• הליכוד: מנדטים10
• האיחוד הלאומי/מפדל: מנדטים9
• יהדות התורה: מנדטים6
• הגימלאים (גיל): מנדטים6
• מרצ: מנדטים5
• מפלגות ערביות: מנדטים7
• הירוקים נמצאים על סף אחוז החסימה
At the end of the affair, I was feeling very sentimental.
It took me 2 hours to get to my voting station because the bus never came and it was a pretty day at that point and I wanted to walk around the city I live in and get some fresh air. It was some great quality time on top of being election day…
Guy at the bus stop (before I realized the 24 was not going to be running today at all) was an older Mizrachi guy who chatted me up until his bus came.
Where are you from? Do you understand me? What do you study?
Who are you voting for? Are you right-wing? Center?
I’ll tell you something, if Sharon were in this, things would be different. I’m a good friend of Olmert – so I’ll tell you – he doesn’t look strong, he doesn’t sound mean, but trust me – he will be very strong, he will fight what needs to be fought, he hates Arabs and he will be a good leader.
I liked the guy at the bus, he was patient with my Hebrew and really nice to me.
Anyways, I got to the voting station smiling, and it felt great to hand them my teudat zehut and be crossed off and escorted into a classroom by this happy old guy.
Then they checked my numbers again. I took an envelope and left the t.z. with the 2 volunteers.
I went behind a cardboard stand and found before me a tray of notes, for the 32 parties running. Hebrew letters, sitting in their little sections, waiting to be picked up. I wanted to pick them all up and hug them.
So I only picked up one, slipped it in the envelope, and walked back to the table with the volunteers and slipped it in the big blue box: (nytimes)
– because I miss Sharon
– because I hate Bibi
– because I want to go forward
– because the man at the bus stop
THE parties my father votes for never get into Parliament. One year he’ll vote for some economist with thick glasses who promises a revolution in tax law, the next year for an irate teacher with a ponytail who advocates a revolution in the school system, the year after that for a restaurateur in Jaffa who explains that only a new culinary approach can bring peace to the Middle East.
The one thing these candidates have in common is a genuine desire for fundamental change. That and the naiveté to believe such change is possible. My father, even at the age of 78, is naïve enough to believe this, too. It’s one of his finest qualities.
In the last elections, my brother, a founder of the Legalize Marijuana Party, asked my father for his vote. My father found himself in a quandary. On the one hand, it’s not every day that your son founds a political party. On the other, my father, who had a taste of the horrors of fascism during World War II, takes all his civic duties very seriously.
“Look,” he said to my brother, “It’s not that I don’t trust you, but there are all these serious people who claim that grass is actually dangerous, and as a person who’s never tried it, I can’t really be sure they’re wrong.”
And so, about a week before Election Day, my brother and one of the senior members of the party rolled my father a joint. “What can I tell you, kid?” my father said to me that evening during a slightly hallucinatory phone conversation. “It’s not half as good as Chivas — but to make it illegal?” And so my father became the oldest voter for the coolest party in the history of Israel’s elections. From the minute he said he would vote for it, I knew it wouldn’t get into Parliament.
That’s why I’m really surprised that my father, an enthusiastic supporter of underdogs, is going to vote for Kadima, the party of Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The polls say Kadima is a shoo-in. “This is the most boring election campaign in the history of the country,” he explained, “and I’m telling you this as a person who’s been here since it was founded. I won’t even turn on the TV on Election Day — well, maybe for the weather forecast, but that’s it. These elections are one big sleeping pill.
“In past elections, there was always a little suspense, something to raise your blood pressure. And it didn’t matter whether it was Menachem Begin burning up the town squares with his speeches, or the fuss over Ehud Barak and that brilliant remark of his: ‘If I’d been born a Palestinian, I probably would have joined a terrorist group.’ This time, there’s nothing. Sure, Olmert’s smug. But one look at his face and I’m already yawning. Forty years that man has been in politics and he hasn’t done a single thing anyone can remember.”
“That’s not exactly a reason to vote for somebody,” I said, trying to argue.
“The hell it isn’t,” my father replied. “Listen, we’ve had so many Rabins and Pereses and Begins, people who tried to galvanize everyone with their charisma and energy. None of them ever really managed to bring us peace. I’m telling you, what this region needs is Olmert — someone who’ll bore us and the Palestinians so much that we fall into a kind of stupor. A stupor that’s a kind of co-existence. A co-existence that’s a kind of peace. Forget all that ‘peace of the courageous’ stuff Barak and Arafat tried to sell us. Even a child knows that courageous people go into battle, they don’t make peace. What this region needs is a peace of the tired, and Olmert’s the man to put us all to sleep.”
On the way home from my parents’ house, I began to think that maybe my father was right. And that it wasn’t exactly good news. If, after all the hopes and disappointments, all the accords and intifadas, the best a whole country can wish for is a politician so nondescript that the pundits are still arguing over whether he’s on the left or the right — if we want a non-event on Election Day — then we really must be exhausted.
Etgar Keret is the author of “The Nimrod Flip-Out.” This article was translated by Sondra Silverston from the Hebrew.
It is possible that I have the body of a spritely 23-year-old while having the soul of a 64-year-old mizrachi woman who grew up with no voice in anything and for election day she gets dressed up in a nice outfit and puts in her vote for Likud, every election day since she’s arrived to Israel.
Ok, I don’t really know what that means. But I do get drssed up to vote, I do get all happy and proud and nationalistic on election days, back in the States. And it goes for here too, apparently. I guess most people my age would think I’m silly and geeky, but I can’t help this tradition of mine.
I just like having the right to express my opinion!
And, as always part of this voting behavior of mine, I don’t know who I will vote for until I get in the booth. Some things just don’t change country to country.
Walking to the bus stop near my house, passing young oranges and lemons blowing softly in the slight breeze.
The old Mizrachi man who walks through the hood everyday and calls out in deep gutteral Hebrew is there, like clockwork, walking by me.
And, waiting by the bus stop, I look across the street to see a middle-age Arab man atop a… donkey. He’s smiling and looking ahead, and nothing could be happier.
At lunch we were talking about the Israeli army.
S is here for a 6-month project and me and M work full time, year-round. We’re also both Israeli citizens, though I’m an immigrant and she’s a native.
S could not understand why Israel even needed an army. “Israel’s not at war.”
M and I stared at S and then I said, “Are you kidding? We’re always at war. There is no such thing as Israel not at war.” M went on to explain that Israel is surrounded by Arab countries who hate our existence. S asked, ‘If Israel has one of the strongest armies, and the Arabs were disorganized, why did we still need all this protection?’ I then countered, “In 1973, if Israel had not had a ridiculously strong army, there would be no Israel. No one was expecting that. How can we not be ready for another surprise? How do we know what is yet to come?”
Together me and M took S on a journey of our dangerous, yet necessary, existence.
Afterward, M pulled me over.
“I didn’t realize how knowledgable and intelligent you are.”
“Why of course, I’m so smart. I’m a genius,” I joked.
“No, really. With knowing all the stuff about Israel.” M looked serious.
“Oh. Well, that’s all I cared about for 5 years before I got here.”
“But the history, the facts… It shows you’re not just another American here to play games.”
“Oh… Did you think I was?”
“Well… you are American… They usually are, ‘I made aliyah, I am so great.’ And then they leave.”
“But you are not. You’re real…”
I looked at my shoes.
“…and you actually said ‘we’ like you’re really one of us. Like you actually served your ass in the Army. Gave away the best 2-3 years of your life to your country.”
Then I felt really stupid. I hadn’t served in the army. I only got here a year ago. I partied in college while she wore an itchy uniform and daydreamed about dancing. Who am I to include myself in the ‘we’ of Israel?
My embarrassment must have showed.
“…But you really care about it. None of it matters – You really are one of us.”
And then I felt like there was no where else I could have possibly wanted to be at that moment. One of my biggest fears had been disproven: a real, authentic Israeli friend has accepted me, for all my Americanness, for all my former life, for all my heavy accent, for all my not having served or grown up here.
The numbers of my teudat zehut, being earned everyday, are dancing before my eyes.