BY NOGA GUR-ARIEH / AJT //
Last week, while I was casting my vote, it suddenly hit me: No matter which new parties rise and fall, when it comes to the global system, nothing in the next four years will change.
It wasn’t easy for me to decide to whom I would give my vote. It is only my second time voting for the Knesset, and it was important to me to have all the facts before I made my decision.
To learn what I could, I spoke to a lot of people, even those with a political agenda far different than my own. I wanted to know the opinions of the people I know and love and also what the various parties have to offer that’s more believable than a pretty written agenda.
During my limited research, I had only one thing in mind – making a difference.
That being said, I know I probably didn’t make any difference. I am merely one small voice, one that will not tilt the results either way. But I also know that the other option – staying at home and not voting – would be worse than voting for a party that may or may not live up to their promises to make a difference.
That’s why on Jan. 22 at 1:27 p.m., I put an envelope in a blue box and went home with a smile on my face.
The thought that followed me all day was that even if Netanyahu won again, it would probably be by a very small gap. The competition might be fiercer between his party (Ha’Likud Beiteinu) and the left-center block of parties (which, according to recent polls, has grown).
I also kept in mind that the former Labor party, Ha’Avoda, has changed leaders since the last election, and the same goes for HaBait HaYehudi (the “Jewish Home”). There is also Yesh Atid (“There Is a Future”), a new party established by one of our most famous journalists, Yair Lapid; this party ended up being the biggest surprise of the election by becoming our second-most-represented party.
And beyond those, I read that a few minor parties – such as the liberal party Ale’ Yarok (“Green Leaf”); the driven-for-change party Eretz Hadasha (“New Country”); and the liberal-Orthodox party Am Shalem (“A complete, whole, nation”) – may get enough votes to seat two Knesset Members.
Considering such diversity on the ballot, I felt that the election results would bring good news to Israel and that the next four years would bring change, even if not major revolution. That is, I felt that way until I remembered one thing.
While the inner business here is greatly affected by the various parties comprising the Knesset, our business with the world (which is followed by the very unbalanced foreign media) is most affected by the person leading the Knesset, the face of Israel – our Prime Minister.
Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected last week for four more years in office. About two months before he was re-elected, your president, Barack Obama, was also re-elected for four more years.
As nations, Israel and the United States are more than allies; they are friends. This friendship has existed for decades, but in the past four years it’s seemed to come under some strain. And in the past year or so, it seemed as if the alliance between Israel and the U.S. was motivated solely by political and security concerns and that the “friendship” was gone.
Our prime minister and your president are very talented people. They are both very skilled and are worthy of their respected positions. However, they both sometimes let their egos get in the way of performing their jobs to the best of their abilities – with their eyes and hearts fixed on the people’s best interests.
In the past six decades, many Israeli prime ministers and American presidents have come and gone. Some were a perfect match; some did not quite get along. I am only 22 years old, so I obviously don’t remember much from the first 40 years of Israel’s existence. But from what I hear said by old(er) people, the current match is the worst one yet.
Our leaders don’t get along; at least, that is what the media tells us. I usually don’t believe everything I read in the paper, but this issue is consistently reported the very same way in all papers, and at this point, I have no choice but to believe it is true.
I am convinced: This match between Netanyahu and Obama will not grow into a friendship. They don’t like each other, and at times it seems as if they actually resent each other.
I don’t believe that tension will have much of an effect on the Israel-U.S. alliance because, as I said, it is based on a very strong security-strategic foundation. We are the only democracy in the Middle East, and our job is basically to prevent the area from being completely destroyed.
However, this lack of friendship, in my eyes, makes anything better than survival – that is, progress – more difficult to achieve. This alliance is not one of true cooperation, and it will stay this way for another four years.
Today, I woke up to a reality that was different yet also more of the same. It is a rather pessimistic (though realistic) prediction, but since I am an optimist by nature, I believe that true change can still be made with baby steps in the right direction. I believe the minor shift in our Knesset will give way to larger transformations with time, and our friendship with the U.S. will return to its former days of glory.
All it takes is a slip in an envelope and a true belief in change.
Noga Gur-Arieh visited the U.S. to work at Camp Coleman after finishing her military service in the IDF. She is now back in Israel, working as a journalist.