On January 22nd, Israel will vote for its new Knesset, and choose the Prime Minister to lead it. Much unlike the American system, here, we have countless parties with countless ideologies to choose from. Behind the curtain, we will cast our ballot, and choose one party only. The person leading the party which will get the most votes, will become Israel's next Prime Minister. I asked some of my friends to tell me, and you, whom they are planning to vote for, and why. Some knew the answer right away, some are still struggling. Each day, I will post a different column with a different opinion. Take in count that this is merely a taste of all the parties competing for our votes. Today, Jonathan Howard will explain his choice of voting Ale' Yarok.
My vote goes to Ale' Yarok/ Jonathan Howard
The upcoming elections in Israel provide many interesting dilemmas for voters. Like the American Presidential debates, here too, parties confront issues of defense, the economy, religions’ rights, immigration, etc. I say this now, but up until a few years ago, both public discourse and party propaganda revolved very expressly around defense, and defense alone. This defined political “left” and “right” across the country, and was the main parameter by which people voted.
But in the summer of 2011, only a couple of months before “Occupy Wall Street” erupted in New York City, a similar protest ensued in Tel-Aviv, calling for economic relief for the middle-class and affordable housing. Over half a million people came to massive demonstrations, calling for change in the economy (Israel’s population is around 6.5 million). Since then, Facebook feeds, blogs, twitter accounts and the media have been filled with economic discussions, and parties have expressed their social and economic agendas much more vocally.
The Ale' Yarok (literally: Green Leaf) party is now running for the fifth time since its foundation in 1999, but to date it never received the necessary votes for it to enter parliament. Ale' Yarok was traditionally associated with the legalization of marijuana, and its members earned a reputation of “stoners” for it, but things have changed: Ale' Yarok joined up with The Liberal List, led by Yaron Lerman, and its agenda now includes legalizing drugs and prostitution (but fighting human trafficking); reducing the defense budget; shortening mandatory military service; opening up monopolized markets to competition; lowering taxation; separating religion and state; and in general – fighting for individual freedom of every Israeli citizen.
Almost mysteriously, there is very little to be said about defense: Ale' Yarok—The Liberal List supports a referendum in the case of peace agreements, but says little more. Surprising perhaps, but this reflects a change of view, looking at the economy and social conditions before arguing in favor of this or that defense policy. This is the only real liberal party in Israel!
I am voting for Ale' Yarok—The Liberal List, because I believe in human rights, and in a thoughtful liberal economy, allowing for prosperity, without crushing anyone in the process. I believe that fixing the economy is the most pressing need in Israel, and that this time – with the party’s new format and agenda, it will finally make it into Parliament.
Jonathan is 23 years old, a computer technician from Jerusalem, recently released from the IDF.