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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Relieved Not to be Involved in Dirty Municipal Elections

Today is Israel's "National Municipal Election Day."  Israel's cities and towns, from Beit El to Beit Shemesh, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Efrat and Haifa are all holding elections today for Mayor and Town Council.
Polls are set to open in 191 municipalities around the country Tuesday, enabling 5,469,041 Israelis to exercise their democratic right to vote for a local government.
There have been all sorts of clever little public service ads on television, urging Israelis to get out and vote. We're told that it's the best alternative to "complaining." You have a "voice." That's a pun in Hebrew, since the same word  is used for "vote" as "voice," קול kole.  It's not an official "day off," aka democracy vacation, but since most polling booths are in schools, regular classes are affected.  I've been hearing from the media about "big sales" that will be in many large chains.  No details have been released prior to elections, since the owners do prefer that the customers buy at full price prior to elections.

local Shiloh elections
my archive
Unfortunately, one thing many of the municipal elections seem to have in common this time is talk of "dirty" campaigning. For me, that takes the fun out of elections.  I've always been fascinated by politics and campaigns, for as long as I remember.In Shiloh, I'm almost always on the election committee and set up the polling, conduct the actual voting and finally count the votes until late at night.  For whatever reason, people trust me and feel secure when I'm there supervising.

Shiloh isn't a city or even a town.  Legally it's a small village and is not governed by a mayor, so we don't have elections today.  Some yishuvim aka "settlements" have reached the required population size and have gone through the process to become cities.  They are electing their mayors today.

I've tried reading about the election campaign fight in Jerusalem, because it is Israel's Capital City, but with all the choice of lists for city council and candidates for mayor there isn't a single one I'd vote for.  We lived in Jerusalem for eleven years, and most of our children live in Jerusalem.  It's a city I know well, and I'm not at all encouraged by the politics going on there. The nastiness between Barkat and Lion are symbolic of the difficulties the city faces no matter who wins.
screen capture, Channel 2 News
Asked by the interviewer if he had anything positive to say about his rival, Lion was less magnanimous. “After three months of lies and slander by his campaign managers, I don’t even have one good thing to say about him,” he said.
Asked the same question, Barkat said he wished Lion well in his future moves — indicating his conviction that Lion, who only recently relocated to Jerusalem from his home town of Givatayim, would not be taking over at City Hall.
We need politicians who can work together for the common good.

Popular blogger Rafi of Life in Israel has been monitoring the elections in Beit Shemesh.  From my vantage here in Shiloh, it seems like Beit Shemesh is always suffering from campaign-like fever, since the three population sectors, secular/traditional,  chareidi and national religious are constantly competing for budgets, services and neighborhood domination.

All of this just reinforces the love I have of my community, Shiloh.  It may be a sleepy little town, but that's preferred over the alternative.

I haven't read or heard of a "pleasant" idealistic campaign anywhere.  If you do know of one, please tell me in the comments, thanks.


Yosef Hartuv said...

Happy to report that here in Kiryat Arba, B"H we were all able to sit and shmooze in the shade of our party's banner and table this morning, without anything other than cordiality between the varied supporters, and expect it to continue this way even after the elections.

Batya said...

Yosef, that's wonderful to hear. Obviously the holiness of the city plays a part.