Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
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 into account that this is merely a taste of all the parties competing for our votes. Today, Aviv Tzinori will explain her choice of voting Eretz Hadasha.
My vote goes to Eretz Hadasha/ Aviv Tzinori
Ever since the big Social Justice protest, we scream out that we've had it. We've had enough with corrupt politicians, with the cutbacks, with demagoguery… We are opposing, waving our arms and legs, and announcing that this can no longer go on. But after two years of doing that, the election time of the year arrives. The best PR artists 'polish' their clients, and tongues turn into swords. Every word that's being said during this time is like a slash of the sword upon a rival's head.
Ha'Likud-Israel Beiteinu VS Habait Hayehudi. Tzipi Livni VS Shelly Yachimovich VS Yair Lapid… The current election campaign seems like one big cloud of personal interests and direct insults, with only one thing missing- The Agenda. The saying: Once upon a time, those who ran for politics were people who had something to say, an opinion of desire for a better Israel. Nowadays, it feels like everything is driven by interests and followed by questions such as: Which hand will you shake secretly? Which 'friends' need you more than you need them? Which ones do you need more?
The feeling of despair from the more senior, 'old timers' politician is probably collective. This feeling, that no matter what we will do, it will all stay the same as the same old politicians, who've been in the Knesset for decades now, will remain there. This feeling of despair leads each one of us to a different place: some choose not to vote, some get scared and follow extremists, some let the current Knesset convince them that change is bad. They tell us that change will be suicidal for Israel. Why are they trying to scare us like that? Why they are trying to prevent us from changing the system? What are they not telling us? Is change even possible?
Eldad Yaniv says it is. Yaniv is the chairperson of "Eretz Hadasha" (New Land) party. I don't know him personally. I heard of him only several times before. He was Netanyahu's assistant, and later Barak's assistant. He has a lot to say. He comes from the inside, he knows the system. He activated the system, and he can also break it.
Yaniv knows what are the critical junctions that must be passed in order for us to become a better Israel. He wants to turn the politics, which we all see as rotten, to something different and new. I am not scared anymore. I stopped believing Netanyahu. I know things can be better. I believe in the power of 'new blood', clean and interests-free, as opposed to the Dinosaurs in the Knesset.
Eretz Hadasha promise to fight the lack of willingness and lack of ability that surround the halls of the Knesset building. According to the polls, Eretz Hadasha has a shot at entering two new Knesset members, and this is a great first step, and already a success. They give me hope for a brighter future.
Aviv is a 24 year-old Communications and Sociology student, currently living in Givat Shmuel.
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January 18, 2013 | 10:37 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
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, Alex Zusmanovich will explain his choice of voting Ha'Bait Ha'Yehudi.
My vote will probably go to Ha'Bait Ha'Yehudi/ Alex Zusmanovich
I don't know how you choose for whom to give your vote in your elections, but here in Israel, due to an almost complete absence of real leaders and politicians that we entirely believe in, some of us, myself included, choose for whom to cast our vote for, using the method of elimination.
So after this basic assumption about the Israeli elections, we can move on and choose from a very large variety of political parties. If you are a right winger like me, you have three parties to choose from – 'HaLikud Beytenu', the ruling party headed by the prime minister Netanyahu, 'HaBayit HaYehudi' (the Jewish Home) party headed by the newcomer Naftali Bennett and 'Otzma LeIsrael' (Power for Israel), a far-right radical nationalist party. If we put away the last option, mainly because it far too radical, not to say fascist, we have only two options left. On January 22 , I will cast Ha'Bait Ha'Yehudi ballot paper in the ballot box because of two main reasons:
Firstly, because I don't want to vote for the Likud. I see it as an archaic, mostly corrupt party that promotes its worst candidates to the Knesset.
Secondly, because I believe that Ha'Bait Ha'Yehudi, once a sectorial settler's party, has changed, and now uses a more extensive rhetoric that fits even for a secular guy from Tel Aviv like me. And here lies the main problem with this choice. The main criticism directed towards Ha'Bait Ha'Yehudi refers to it as a radical, Messianic, ultra-religious party that hides its real intentions under slogans that work for everyone.
Of course that there's a little truth in it, but same as the criticism that refers to the Labor party as communists that want to enslave us all or to Meretz party as a fifth column that will eventually destroy Israel from the inside, it's exaggerated. As I see it, it's only a pre-elections discourse that is used for receiving more votes over a party that is viewed as your enemy. After the elections, many parties that were sworn enemies before, sit together in the coalition.
To sum up, I'm not one hundred percent confident in my vote. Ha'Bait Ha'Yehudi is too religious for the ideal party that I see in my mind, but I still see it as the best choice considering my ideological and political views. And as I said in the beginning – almost nobody here is fully sure with his or her choice, we're just eliminating them, and vote for the least bad.
Alex is a 26 year- old Communications and Political Science student, currently living in Tel-Aviv.
January 17, 2013 | 10:31 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
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.
January 16, 2013 | 10:17 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
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, Shira Teller will explain her choice of voting Ha'Avoda.
My vote goes to Ha'Avoda/ Shira Teller
In the summer of 2011 rose the Israeli Social Justice Protest, about how the cost of living has risen while our salaries have stayed the same (or shrunk), and about the fact the price of real estate in Israel has rocketed sky-high and no one can afford a home without a strangling mortgage.
I was still doing my national service (which is similar to army service for those who can't be in the military), but I lived in Tel-Aviv and witnessed it live at times, and I remember not being very active about it, but felt it was right, since I was always a person who supported justice, human (and animal) rights, and in favor of a very strong welfare system. The only thing was I was not very active about it.
When I started studying in the university, a friend invited me to come and hear Shelly Yachimovitch, the leader of Ha'Avoda (labor) Party. She spoke about the rights of the workers, especially the contract workers, about a strong welfare system, and financial justice, which is the exact opposite of the current situation. Research has shown that the economic gaps in the Israeli society are increasing, and today services such as basic health and good education, cost us a lot of money. I decided to join its activities in the university, and in the last few years – out of it, using mainly the platform of the internet.
During the last two years, the government has ignored the cry of the protestors (half a million people!) and not only that – but has done the complete opposite. The government, which already took a lot of money from the budget for welfare, health and education, decided to erase the tax debts of the large corporations, and raised the taxes of the rest. Not only that, but the tax it decided to raise wasn't the differential tax (based on the income), but the taxes on the basic foods and supplies – which hurts the lower classes the most. I know all the financial reasons behind it, no worries, but I simply do not agree.
So, Shelly Yachimovitch sat with about 50 economists, and put down a new economic plan, based on the Social-Democrat model that works in the Scandinavian countries. A plan which is right and fair, doesn't harm the middle and upper classes, rehabilitates the welfare, health and education systems and lowers the cost of living. I read it, anyone can read it, it isn't perfect, but it is compatible with my ideology. Not only that, but Ha'Avoda is the only party that released a full platform to the public, especially in the financial issue. It may seem trivial, but the thing people tend to forget is that once there is one, a party is opening herself to criticism and in case of failure – they would know to take responsibility for it.
You might say that there are many defense issues, and what about those? Yachimovitch claims and rightly so, that a society of people who are constantly worrying about their financial issues, is a society with much less motivation to serve and defend its country. Israel could be a very strong and defensive country, but what is it really worth when the rich become richer and the poor become poorer? It could bring the crumbling of my country from the inside.
That, my friends, is why I am going to vote for the Ha'Avoda" party. I, among many others, feel the desperate need for a change, only Shelly Yachimovitch – if the party gets enough votes to make her prime minister – can make. If she doesn't make it – I wouldn't worry either, because she will serve her purpose by being a fierce opposition, and enacting laws in favor of the workers and society, in addition to the 40 she has passed by now.
Shira is a 22- year- old Communications and Management student, currently living in Tel-Aviv.
January 15, 2013 | 10:20 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
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, Alon Kasher will explain his choice of voting Ha'Likud- Israel Beiteinu.
My vote goes to Ha'Likud- Israel Beiteinu/ Alon Kasher
When Israelis stand before elections, there are many factors to be taken in mind, because of the high number of parties competing for our vote.
There are dozens of parties. Some of them are traditional, some are new, and some are an amalgam of failing politicians who gathered to create something new. Sometimes I wish we were like the United States- two parties, and life is simple. However, in a way, a multiple number of parties is best for the variety of Israelis. There are so many sectors, so many opinions, that a variety of parties is needed.
But even though there are many choices, there is only one note to put in the envelope. Each one of us has a different subject or issue which we find the most critical: some will vote for the nominee which they believe will close their minus in the bank; some find it more important to put Israel's Democratic identity before its Jewish one; some strive for a negotiation with the Palestinians (some of them believe it will silence their conscience which keeps reminding that this whole conflict might be our fault); some find the most important issue to be the struggle against the division of Jerusalem.
There are many other issues of such, and to my opinion, before choosing the party which represents a certain ideology, we must choose the party which we believe in the ability of the person leading it to be our Prime Minister. This person must be able to stand up to the pressure of the people of the world, which demand Israel to give up its right to defend itself. This person must be able to survive the world's financial crisis, and avoid making irresponsible decisions, which will lead us to bankruptcy, like the leaders of Spain and Greece. This person must put a continuous pressure on the world, to stop the modern Hitler from Iran from putting his hands on a nuclear bomb. This person must have the charisma, the education and the experience to stand for those basic goals, which all Israelis, both left and right wingers, share, no matter what their ideologies are. I also believe that the leader of the Jewish state must have the battlefield experience, because when we are surrounded by so many enemies who wish our destruction, voting for a party led by a journalist will do us no good.
If we take all this is mind, the decision we will put on the ballot is actually very simple. A closer examination will lead us to the realization that there is only one person which has all the qualities I just mentioned- our current Prime Minister, and the one leading Ha'Likud- Israel Beiteinu party- Binyamin Netanyahu! I trust him to make the right decision after a great consideration, and not based on an impulsive hunch. The other candidates are inexperienced and their lack of security and economical understanding could only take us down.
A Palestinian state- yes or no? Whichever decision that will be made, I know that Netanyahu will not withdraw one-sidedly like we did in Gaza. He will not divide Jerusalem and turn it into a second Berlin. He will not give up our holy places, our security settlements and most importantly- will not settle a new country instead of Israel, but only beside it!
Alon is a 23 -year- old Communications and Media student, living in Raanana.
January 14, 2013 | 10:10 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Let it snow!
As you probably already know, the past week was the stormiest week Israel has seen in years. The rain poured for five straight days, as streets were flooded, trees collapsed, and we were freezing! We are not used to such a cold, stormy winter, in our mostly warm Israel, and this past week took us all by surprise. However, this rain did not cause only trouble. It also brought great news for our drying source of water. That European winter that came upon us, also brought snow to Jerusalem and the northern parts of Israel.
Check out Israelife's stormy photo album.
Gaza and Israel cooperate
While Hamas, the terror organization which rules Gaza, is making extra effort in hurting Israel, some of Gaza's citizens actually find a common language with Israelis. Last week, 30 farmers from Gaza, participated in an agriculture expo held in Eshkol Regional Council in Israel.
Read more here.
Israel's leading scientists on their way to making a difference
Thanks to the National Institute for Psychobiology in Israel, many Israeli scientists have been able to find ways of treatment for disorders of the brain such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. So far, many lives were saved thanks to the NIP's funds. Unfortunately, the diseases are many, and the funds are limited…
Read more here.
Still a high-tech giant
The Wall Street Journal posted a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which shows that in 2012, there were 50 high-tech "exit". Guess how much money did Israelis earn in one year, thanks to those deals?
Read more here.
You probably already know this, but I am too proud to skip this wonderful news! Two Israeli documentaries, dealing with the Israeli Palestinian conflict, are nominated for an Academy Award. I think this is the first time I read the words "Palestinian conflict", without having to deal with a flood of criticism.
Read more here.
A rabbi arrives to a kibbutz
No, this is not the beginning of a joke, and not a story that ended with a conflict of any sort. This is the story of a secular Bar-Mitzvah, hosted by Israel's chief Rabbi, Yona Metzger, with very special visitors joining the celebration…
Read more here.
FIFA stands for Israel
Soccer is known for its occasional audience aggression, but some Hungarian fans lost track of "right" and "wrong"… A "friendly" Israel-Hungary soccer match last year, turned to be the exact opposite of "friendly", when Hungarian fans started chanting anti-Semitic and racist comments, and yell "stinky Jews" at the Israeli players. Now, FIFA had announced that the fans will be banned from attending the country's World Cup qualifying game against Romania
Read more here.
Watch the shocking racist incident
January 12, 2013 | 8:34 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Finally, in mid-January, the rain started to pour over the land of Israel. The rain is blessed, no doubt, but it caught us unprepared. After two straight stormy days, the streets were flooded to the point that some people took out their canoes and started sailing. Most of us, however, stayed at home with a hot coco; after all, we are not used to a cold weather of any sort. A few talented photographers dared to step outside and take beautiful photos of the storm-struck Israel…
January 10, 2013 | 10:22 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
After rating the states of the world mostly on a financial basis, the Earth Institute at Columbia University published the first ever World Happiness Report, made at request of the UN. The report contains information on various happiness measurements collected to create a "life evaluation score". It provides a glance at how citizens of different countries grade their social status, political freedom, social networks, absence of corruption, mental and physical health, job security, family life, etc.
After gathering all the data into 158 pages, the researchers provided a list of the happiest nations, alongside with the list of the unhappiest nations. The happiest place on earth, according to this report, is Denmark. The unhappiest place is Togo in Africa. The United States is ranked 11, and Israel is in 14th place. I must say I was kind of surprised with the results. First of all, I was positive the happiest place on earth was Disneyland. Second of all, Israel's placement so close to the US and in a pretty high spot, was something new for me.
We are under an ongoing everlasting security threat; we have a high rate of car accidents; the average temperature is 100 Fahrenheit; we have disagreements with many governmental decisions, and most importantly- all we ever do is complain. The United States, on the other hand, is the land of opportunities. Whenever I visit, I feel like I am in a fairytale. All the great movie-dreams can be realized there, and you have M&M's stores. The American life always appeared to us, Israelis, as idealistic, and far better than ours. So either all those who answered the questions for the report were planning their next trip to the States, or we are actually happy, almost as much as you. Maybe living in such a small, warm place is the secret ingredient for happiness.
Apparently, my family and friends were as shocked as I was to read the list, but I must say, we all had a great day that day. I mean, it is always nice to read a firm fact that we are happy. I guess sometimes we need official research to tell us that. I am also glad this report was made. As important as financial reports on the countries' incomes are, what really makes someplace a high quality place is how happy the people who live there are, not how much money they make. A happy place is usually a place of profit to the world. A person who enjoys life, will do his best to keep his or hers surroundings in good shape. Happy people will probably recycle, work out, make donations, and be patient with others.
I must admit that there is something to the point that happiness cannot be measured. Financial status is a valid fact, while the enjoyment of life cannot be calculated. But even if the numbers aren't accurate, and maybe everyone is slightly less happy than the numbers show- it doesn't make any real difference. From now on, this semi-accurate measurement will be the world's best measurement, and everything will be straightened by it. This measurement shows the world has really developed, and that humanity changes. We no longer appreciate money the most. We really believe that money can't buy love. Now the only thing left to do is to take those results, and do some good. It is time to give a little "push" to the "unhappy" places, where poverty and famine dominate. It is time to take the western progression and give back, even by making the most unhappy place become slightly happier.