Monday, February 09, 2009

Sic Transit Gloria Socialista

My friends, it’s official – I am a Likudnik. Oy, my grandparents (socialists of the Old School) and my great-grandfather (who campaigned for a Labour Safety Law) are for sure spinning in their graves. But you see that’s what this country does to you. It’s very nice to discuss the Situation in the Middle East from your comfortable Italian designer soft leather armchair, enjoying a nice glass of Merlot wine while nibbling on some Roquefort cheese, but it’s a different story when you are under attack. And don’t get me wrong – under attack we are here in the Holy Land. Not only by the Grad missiles (or the Grad 2.0 that will be hitting my little town within the next two years – mark my words) from Gaza, but also from the international media, that justify any anti-Jewish/anti-Israel opinion or statement – no matter how warped. So after voting moderate left-wing for two decades or so, I am now officially a hawk. Damn, it really feels good!

Voting in Israel is an Event – celebrated with an official national holiday. Yep, you don’t get time off for moving apartments, but you do get time off for voting, which will only take up to 30 minutes or so of your time. Needless to say, it’s a brutal waste of money in my opinion. When I made alyah 12 years ago and got the invitation to vote, I was convinced that I would get a secret code or something like which would enable me to vote via my cell phone. Or at least via Internet! But no, high-tech Israel (where even pumping gas with your company car is fully automated – courtesy of the Israeli Dalkan system), voting will take you back to the time of the British Mandate. You see, this is how it goes.

You go to your local voting station, which is a school or community center in your neighborhood, No need to check the street number – just go where there are heaps of people loudly discussion politics. You can recognize the different supporters by their T-shirts/caps/promotional garb on their illegally parked cars. Don’t make eye contact – just head for the entrance door. Once you are inside, you have to figure out where to go. The invitation should have a number, unless you didn’t receive it, in which case you call the “Moked” (the hotline) and ask. Don’t try to go by something as simple as the first letter of your family name – it wouldn’t fly. OK, now you are inside and you walk up to a table with 3 people – think American Idol jury without attractive people like Paula Abdul. The triumvirate (m/f) has huge ledgers in front of them that any ship captain from the time of Sir Francis Drake would have been proud of. One takes your identity card and the other two try to find you in the ledger. The previous time I voted, they could not find me under the D, although both my given and family name starts with that letter. After 20 minutes, I was located under “Dayan” - although I have no connection to that illustrious family at all. Once identified, you are sent to the voting booth itself, which is a carton box around an old rickety-rack table. I was afraid to sneeze and bring it all tumbling down. On the table are little pieces of paper (see photo) with up to three Hebrew letters on it. I felt like an idiot – I was used in Europe to vote using an interactive computer touch screen (I still vote for the national and European Parliament – trying to keep the radicals out). You vote by putting the Hebrew letter(s) piece of paper that represents your favorite party in an envelope that you then place in the secured voting box (that looks like a recycling bin – how fitting!). Only then do you get your identity card back and are you allowed to leave. My fitness trainer is one of the polling station people in her neighborhood, so I am looking forwards to her stories. Counting votes is done by hand, under the beady eyes of the different party representatives. I don’t envy her – it will be mayhem all around. (But it does pay well!) It’s good that she used to be an Olympic weightlifter – tempers flare and fists fly.

The elections tomorrow will quite likely be a Likud victory with Netanyahu as the new PM. I would be happy about that – Bibi is an economic genius and the Likud has some good people on list, not in the least BennyBegin (son of the late Menachem and one of the few truly honest and truthful politicians). Our country and the Western world need a strong Israeli government – for all our sakes and our democracies.

So there it is – after several generations of peace-loving socialists, I am the first polictial hawk in my family. Please don’t tell my sister – she is whipping up a gourmet meal in her safe Euro 25,000 designer kitchen in Europe…..and still voting Labour!