“Could I possibly see for whom I am voting?” he asked timidly. “Of course not!” the official answered indignantly, “In the Soviet Union, we respect the secrecy of the ballot!”
In Israel, elections are also secret. Therefore, I shall not tell you for whom I shall vote. Certainly I shall not be so impertinent as to tell my readers how to vote. But I shall set out the reasoning that will guide me. We are voting for a new government that will lead Israel for the next four years. If it were a beauty contest, I would vote for Yair Lapid. He is so very handsome. If we had to decide who is the most likable candidate, it would probably be Moshe Kahlon. He seems a very nice guy, the son of a poor, Oriental Jewish family, who as Minister of Communications has broken the monopoly of the cellphone tycoons. But sympathy has nothing to do with it.
If we were seeking a nice, well-mannered guy, Yitzhak Herzog would be the obvious candidate. If I were looking for a bar bouncer, Avigdor Lieberman would be my man. If I were looking for a smooth TV performer, both Lapid and Benjamin Netanyahu would be more than adequate.
But I am looking for a person who will at least prevent war (and perhaps bring peace closer), bring back some form of social justice, put an end to the discrimination against Arab and Jewish Oriental citizens, restore our health, education and other social services and more. Let me start with the easy part: For whom I shall not vote under any circumstances.
On the extreme right, there is Eli Yishai’s “Beyahad” (Together) party. I never liked Yishai. Before he split from “Shas,” he was interior minister and persecuted refugees from Sudan and Eritrea without even a modicum of compassion.
With his new party desperate to overcome the threshold clause, which is now 3.25 percent, Yishai made a deal with the disciples of the late and unlamented Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was branded as a fascist by the Supreme Court. No. 4 on the list is now Baruch Marzel, who once publicly called for my murder.
Next on the list is Avigdor Lieberman, the center of whose election platform is the proposal to behead with an axe all Arab citizens who are not loyal to the state. Not far from there is Naftali Bennett. After conquering the Religious-National Party in a hostile takeover, he turned it into an efficient outfit.
The Religious-National Party was once a very moderate political force, which put a brake on David Ben-Gurion’s adventurism. But its semi-autonomous education system has turned out generations of extremists. Now they are the party of the settlers, and Bennett is wooing young Arab-hating, war-loving secular Jews, who otherwise would vote for Likud.
Thus we come to Likud, the party of “King Bibi,” as Time Magazine admiringly called him. Netanyahu is fighting for his political life. It seems that people are just fed up with Netanyahu. They seem to be saying: Enough is enough. When Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected for the fourth time, the Americans decided to limit the terms of presidents henceforth to two. Perhaps the Israeli people have decided the same: Three terms of Netanyahu are quite sufficient, thank you.
Where do the Likud votes go? First of all, to Bennett’s party. That would not be an unmitigated disaster for Netanyahu, since Bennett, with all the hatred between them, will have to support Netanyahu in the Knesset.
But some of the votes will go to the two “center” parties of Kahlon and Lapid, whose eventual allegiance is uncertain. The same is true for the Oriental Shas and the Ashkenazi “Torah Jewry.”
So there are at least four “center” parties, which can decide whether Netanyahu or Herzog will be our next premier. Lieberman’s shrinking party may be the fifth.
Of course I would not dream of voting for any of them. What is left? A choice between three: Labor, now called “the Zionist Camp,” Meretz and the Joint (Arab) list.
The Arab list is composed of four vastly different parties: Communist, Islamist and nationalist. The Arabs in Israel are second-class citizens, discriminated against and sometimes persecuted. What would be more humane for a progressive Jewish citizen than to vote for such a list?
But the Joint List is problematic for me. A few days ago, they upset me with a fateful decision. It concerns the “leftover” votes. Under our election law, two lists may make an agreement, under which the “leftover” votes of both will be pooled and turned over to one of them. (“Leftover” are votes remaining after the party has been allotted the seats for which it has the full number of votes.)
The Leftist parties devised a plan under which the Joint List was to pool its leftovers with those of Meretz. This might have given to one of them — and thus to the entire leftist bloc — one more seat, which may turn out to be crucial. The Joint List refused, because Meretz is a Zionist party. The decision may have been logical, since many Arab voters could possibly abstain from voting if they feared that their vote might go to a Jewish “Zionist” list. But it showed that faced with any important decision, the Islamists of the Joint List might bloc a united decision for peace. I have a problem with that.
So I am left with Meretz and the “Zionist Camp.” Meretz is far closer to my views than the larger list. But only the larger list can unseat Netanyahu. The problem would not have existed if my proposal for a joint list including “the Zionist Camp,” Meretz, Lapid and more had been set up in time. All the prospective parts refused.
So now I am faced with a choice: Either vote ideologically for Meretz or vote pragmatically for the party whose chances of putting an end to Netanyahu’s reign will be enhanced if it emerges as the largest party in the next Knesset. But this party has many defects, of which I am painfully aware.
It is now possible to stop the march of the Right and restore some sanity to our country. So how should I vote?
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view