Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Falling asleep at the wheel - Part II

Generally speaking, my postings aim to be clear and concise (albeit a bit wordy). This post is not like that. I have been struggling with some ideas of late, and I am using this blog as a place to vent. I do not know if in a few hours I will still feel the way that I do, but only time will tell. In the meantime, you are now holding a front row ticket to the inner workings of my heart and mind.

In the last few days alone I have heard two sentiments expressed over and over again by those who, in the past, have been at the forefront of Jewish activism in defense of the right of the Jewish People to a Jewish State throughout the Land of Israel (West of the Jordan):

1) "I can't listen to the news or open a newspaper, the news is just too depressing."

2) "I don't plan on voting in the upcoming elections. We have no voice in this country, our votes don't count for anything, so why bother?"

There is a sense of despondency and hopelessness pervading the hearts of some of our very best and most committed Jews in the Land of Israel.

For the last week I have been shocked by the fact that Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has taken steps to expel the Jews of Hebron out homes which legally belong to the Jewish community of Hebron, as well as taking steps to divide Jerusalem by allowing the upcoming PLO elections to take place there - and by and large, there hasn't been much of a response.

Where are the tens of thousands of Jews who took to the streets this past summer in an effort to stop the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif and the Shomron, now that Hebron and Jerusalem are on the chopping block?!?

My sense is that many of those thousands feel betrayed. Betrayed by their government, by their army, by their leaders... and these Jews have come to the painful realization that short of divine intervention, there seems to be little standing in the way of the new bulldozer operator, Ehud Olmert.

These are challenging days.

I don't have any real answers, but I do believe that if we give up hope, then all will certainly be lost. It is up to us to do all that we can for our nation and our Homeland and hope that our actions will not be in vain.


Democracy is failing, it's time to pray.

By Blogger ifyouwillit, at Wed Jan 18, 11:50:00 PM GMT+2  

Ah, but democracy won't save us, nor could it. Only Hashem will, and He will. Our times of worst hope are also our times of greatest triumph. Why? Because Hashem wills us to fall into grave danger... then he can swoop down and glorify His Name by providing great miracles...

It's never easy to be a Jew, but in the end, it's all worth it.

By Blogger Tovya @ Zion Report, at Thu Jan 19, 02:39:00 AM GMT+2  

one is not allowed to rely on miricle. This makes it even more important to vote. When you dont vote dont complain later on that the politians arent fufiling the will of the people.

By Anonymous leffingstn, at Thu Jan 19, 03:20:00 AM GMT+2  

Excellent post.

By Blogger Ezzie, at Thu Jan 19, 04:43:00 AM GMT+2  

i didn't say anything about not voting, i said that Hashem is our protector. We vote first, but know that in the end, Hashem knows all and sees all, and therefore we have nothing to fear.

By Blogger Tovya @ Zion Report, at Thu Jan 19, 06:53:00 AM GMT+2  

very heartfelt. We have to learn to meet the challenges of our day, and not make the mistake of just sitting by and letting things happen..
Of course, Hashem is waiting for our tefillot.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 19, 11:36:00 AM GMT+2  

I'd say that part of the problem for both right-wing and left-wing voters in Israel is that they tend to vote ideologically rather than strategically - and thus their votes go to essentially marginal parties like the National Union and Meretz, that generally have little or no impact on the course of events.

Because the far-right-wing parties absorb most of the far-right-wing votes, the more moderate right-wing parties tend not to care much about these voters. (This is, of course, one of the many problems created by our stupid system of proportional representation.) So the far-right-wing parties actually (and unintentionally) reduce the impact of their values on Israeli policy!

My advice - for what it's worth, coming from a raging centrist - is that if you're a Ze'ev-style voter, you should hold your nose and vote Likud rather than National Union or National Religious Party. Votes for the latter two parties are essentially throwaways; votes for the latter may strengthen the Likud as a potential coalition partner, enabling it to influence the course of events over the next few years.

By Blogger Don Radlauer, at Thu Jan 19, 02:32:00 PM GMT+2  

Addendum: I want to make it clear that I'm endorsing the Likud party for voters who are quite far to my right politically; I have never personally voted Likud, nor do I plan to do so in the foreseeable future. YYMV/CYLOR. (Your mileage may vary / consult your local Orthodox rabbi.)

By Blogger Don Radlauer, at Thu Jan 19, 02:35:00 PM GMT+2  

I agree with Don - the smartest thing to do is to vote for the Likud. There are a lot of good MKs on the slate - traditional Likudniks like Rubi Rivlin, and young ones who had the most to lose by standing up to Sharon and voting against the disengagement plan, but who did it anyway.

Think of it this way - you are not voting for Bibi, you are voting for the guys breathing down his neck.

By Blogger westbankmama, at Thu Jan 19, 04:08:00 PM GMT+2  

With no disrespectm eantot Don or WBM - but have you both gone mad!?! How could anyone on the right vote Likud - especially after what they did ot Feiglin.

Last time around, Sharon - the ultimate rightist won 40 seats, with all of the traditional Likud members along with him, and what happened? The expulsion?

Please spare me how the Likud will be different this time around - the Likud is a shell of a party with no ideology - as they are now adding to their platform supprot for a "Palestinian" State. One may as well vote Kadima.

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Thu Jan 19, 06:37:00 PM GMT+2  

SHEMA YISRAEL......Listen up. We have been waiting for Moshiach to save us for millenia....and yet all the time we had Moshiach with us. If you read the Torah carefully you will find that it is the people who are infused with the same spirit that was operating through David that is Moshiach. It is with this spirit if we are ONE, truly one that we can defeat the Goliath, but it takes a faith that is beyond the ordinary Jew.
You see, our people wanted to believe the report of the spies and we wanted to have a King, a man to rule over us...we chose Saul but G-d Almighty chose David.
And was David King of Israel when he went against Goliath? No, he was simply outraged and didn't take time to be afraid of how big and outnumbered he and the army of Israel were....He was fighting mad and it was not an anger that comes from fear, but an anger that comes from RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION...Who was this small but mighty hero of old? He was a humble loner who loved LIFE and realized that G-d is LIFE. He fought for LIFE and he showed us the way. What does that mean in today's world? Why are we different today than we were when we fought the enemies of G-d before? We lost the dependence on G-d, otherwise known as faith. We have the miracle of man's technology that we believe in and the United States of America that we believe in....where is our hope and our trust placed? In FALSE gods. The truth is is this is all about oil and all about world domination, just another Haman, another Hitler, another Amalek that we have to fight but because the Land is at risk we cannot allow for anymore Amalekites. WE need to finish the job like we were told to all those years ago. WE are the people that G-d chose to be a light to the nations. We are not weak, we are simple less in number but we are not less in power unless we believe we are. Who are they to come against the MOST HIGH?
They have infiltrated our own and that is the problem. We have to eradicate the Saul's of our own Land in order to be empowered by Hashem for this final and I do mean FINAL battle. If we give up it isn't just us that is going to go down, it is the entire world.
Are we that important, YES WE ARE!!! We have to remove the leaven from among us. It begins with each of us examining our own lives and then we must begin to find a way to stop fighting among ourselves and unite in the cause of our Land and Our G-d. After all, who are we without the Land and G-d? And that is exactly the question to ask every Jew be they Israeli or otherwise. We have to give up our idols and cleanse ourselves. We are the only thing that stands in the way of Hashem pouring out the punishment on those who deserve it. When those who wish to live righteously are truly living righteously then we will see the miracles that we have seen over and over again. SHEMA, wake up and tell the truth, stop cheating on your wife, stop cheating in business, stop being a disgrace to the name of Hashem, Israel....Stop going to prostitutes you religious brethren and sisters, tell your man to stop it. We have to have enough and stand up and stop being afraid and stop making concessions to the nations, especially the USA. It is NOW....If not now, when? There is no other time when the time was obviously right. The prophets told us all that was going to happen and they also gave us the Psalms and the Prophets. REturn to Torah and not Torah of today but Torah of SINAI where we made covenant. Cry out with a loud voice every day thatyou want to live this covenant that your ancestors promised on your life to live. Take on the yoke and then ask for the help. We don't have to suffer, the blessings are there and it is up to our behavior whether we are given them or continue to live with curses from those who would see us dead. And they won't just take the Land, they want us all dead, this is LIFE OR DEATH and we had better stop being tired of the fight. Israel is full of depression for one reason, we aren't allowed to fight back and I say that we have to be spiritual warriors and fight this way first.
And then Hashem will fight for us.
Who directed that stone that flew from DAvid's slingshot? You know who. But it was David that walked up to the giant and drew his sword and cut his head off. We must have the strength to do what is ultimately for the sake of Heaven, the Heaven that we can create here for all the world or continue to suffer in the Hell that we allow others to create for us. AM YISRAEL CHAI!!!!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 19, 09:22:00 PM GMT+2  


Am Yisrael Hai!!!

And stop cheating on your wife!

And don't go to prostitutes.

All good stuff - that will bring peace.

Right on!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 19, 10:05:00 PM GMT+2  

Ze'ev wrote:

With no disrespect meant to Don or WBM - but have you both gone mad!?! How could anyone on the right vote Likud - especially after what they did ot Feiglin.


Please spare me how the Likud will be different this time around - the Likud is a shell of a party with no ideology - as they are now adding to their platform supprot for a "Palestinian" State. One may as well vote Kadima.

As I wrote before, I'm not recommending that you vote Likud because I like the Likud. (Nor, for that matter, am I crazy - I'm close, but not quite there yet.) I'm simply saying that voting is a pragmatic matter of trying to influence the course of events, not an outlet for personal expression. As such, you can vote National Union and feel happy with yourself - and your vote will have no impact. You might as well vote for Hadash or Balad. But voting for the Likud, despite all its manifest faults (which I know as well as you do), does give you some chance of having some effect. Likud may not be National Union, but it's not Meretz either. It's not even Kadima - there may be some Likudniks (Silvan Shalom comes to mind) who wish they'd switched to Kadima when they had the chance, but there are plenty of others who are well to the right of Kadima even though they are well to the left of National Union.

Of course, it's none of my business how you vote. But if you're going to be an effective voter (and you certainly have every reason to want to be), you need to understand that voting is not a matter of ideological purity. Sometimes the best we can do is to choose the lesser evil, the party that we dislike but that may swing things a little bit in the "right" direction.

Of course if you do decide to vote for Kadima, I'll be happy... (g)

By Blogger Don Radlauer, at Fri Jan 20, 12:56:00 AM GMT+2  

Don, you are right, Likud is not Meretz. Meretz could never have pulled off what the Likud did this past summer. What happened to all the people who gave the Likud the 40+ seats in the last electionm who didn't vote ideologically, but trusted Sharon, in a large party, too try and influence things - why we got the expulsion that is continuing full steam ahead.

Unless you can show how a vote for Likud will not bring about a total disregard for theose who voted for the party - for a platofrm that was betrayed, then a vote for the Likud is not just wasted, it is borderline insantiy.

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Fri Jan 20, 08:18:00 AM GMT+2  

Ze'ev, I think you're missing the point. Why do you think it is that Kadima is predicted to win 40 or more Knesset seats? Assuming for the sake of argument that these numbers actually indicate the results of the election, where did these Kadima voters come from? Clearly, most of them have to have voted Likud in the last election - since Labor voters aren't defecting to Kadima en masse. Kadima's 40 seats come mostly from Likud (about 2/3, or let's say 27 seats) and Shinui (about 1/3, or 13 seats).

What does this tell us about people who voted Likud in the last election? If they had been voting for the Likud party platform, which Ariel Sharon certainly did trample, then they would still be planning to vote Likud - since the rump Likud will probably behave much more like the "platform" Likud now that most of the "Sharonista" pragmatists have left. The fact that most Likud voters followed Sharon rather than remaining loyal to the Likud indicates that they were really voting for what they got: a pragmatic government led by a consummate pragmatist. (I've noted for a long time that almost everyone who screams bloody murder about how Ariel Sharon betrayed the Likud party platform didn't in fact vote Likud; I don't think all that many actual Likud voters ever took the party platform at all seriously.)

The problem here is that as long as people like you don't vote Likud, there is absolutely no reason for the Likud to try to cater to voters like you. (This is why Likud insides get so annoyed at Moshe Feiglin: they see him as someone trying to take over the party by bringing in hordes of new "members" who in fact never voted for the Likud.) If you don't vote Likud, why should the Likud worry about your opinions? It's just as if I got mad at Meretz for not espousing the policies I believe in - why should they, when I've never voted for them and probably never will?

As I said before, you are certainly welcome to vote for the National Union; it's your absolute right to do so, and they represent your views much more accurately than the Likud does. But you should realize that by doing so, you are actually acting to strengthen the hands of Kadima and voters like me - since the National Union will in all likelihood have no power or influence whatsoever in the next Knesset.

By Blogger Don Radlauer, at Fri Jan 20, 08:02:00 PM GMT+2  


Bizarrely, I am going to be sticking up for Ze'ev's voting for the Ihud Haleumi.

You say that voting is about nflencing the course of National events and not about expressing one's emotions.

So let's say Ze'ev (even though he knew the Likud would trample on their own platform) voted for Sharon last election, and his one vote brought sharon in over Mitzna. That would mean that Ze'ev would have helped Sharon get to power and carry out his plan. If he had voted for NU, then Mitzna would have got to power, but as we have seen in the past, when the left forms a government, they have never been able to get the likud to join it on their terms (or any terms), whereas Avodah has always put their desire to see their policies put forward (and to get inside their free volvo) before anything else and joined a "NAtional Unity" Government. This means that if Ze'ev keeps the likud in opposition, there is less likely to be concessions, because the left does not have the strength to pass left wing policies - only the supposed right has that strength.

The incredible thing about Sharon and Kadima was, even after selling out the settlers and betraying the Likud and his long time supporters, he is still seen by the majority of Israelis as solid, safe, and most of all someone who will bring security. Ze'ev is better off supporting a party of the genuine right, so that if there is a likud victory, they will see their natural coalition partners as the parties of the right, who might be the fourth biggest party with nearly as much power as Avodah.
In Coalition politics with PR, you cannot play by the same rules as in the states.


By Anonymous H, at Sun Jan 22, 07:12:00 AM GMT+2  

What do you know - it looks like Haim and i agree again.

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Sun Jan 22, 09:48:00 AM GMT+2  

Haim, I might well agree with you about the last election - but that's not necessarily relevant to this election. The nature of strategic voting is that it depends on circumstances, including predictions about which party is likely to win and which parties are likely to become members of a governing coalition.

As things stand, it appears probable that Kadima will form the next government. There will be a few parties large enough to wield some leverage in coalition negotiations, and close enough to the center to be realistic coalition partners. Likud - but not National Union - will be one of these. Further, Likud today is not Likud of five years ago; the remaining "rump Likud" is a more ideologically right-wing party than the pre-Kadima Likud. And Likud is looking like a fairly weak third-place finisher, so - unless things change radically - there is no reasonable probability of Likud's actually winning the election. "If there is a Likud victory" is thus not a scenario we need to consider, as things look today.

Under these circumstances, it seems to me that a vote for the Likud would do more (at least potentially) to influence government policy than a vote for National Union. This is not a statement of principle; it doesn't apply to any election other than this one, and it applies to this one only based upon the current polls.

By Blogger Don Radlauer, at Sun Jan 22, 03:41:00 PM GMT+2  


I think that you are trying to wiggle out of what you said. You were calling for a general strategic voting system - one should always vote for the likud because they are more likely to get into power then.

I will not be voting for one of the three mainstream parties, and that is because none of them represent me - your logic that if you vote for them, then they will have to represent you is backwards and ridiculous. If Ze'ev votes for the likud, it doesn't mean bibi has to listen to Ze'ev. It means he has to suffer Bibi claiming that more people agree with him.

The multi party system is designed to encourage people to vote their conscience.

By Anonymous h, at Tue Jan 24, 04:02:00 PM GMT+2  

Dear Haim (and Ze'ev) -

I'm not at all trying to wiggle. When I talk about strategic voting, I'm referring - now and in my earlier posts - to this election, just as I'm hoping that our military strategists are planning to fight the next war and not the previous ones. Strategy that focuses overmuch on the past is doomed to failure; it's the classic French General Staff problem of preparing to win the last war you lost.

In an election that the Likud are likely - or, as in the last one, nearly certain - to win, Ze'ev should definitely not vote Likud. Under those circumstances, he should vote for a party to the right of Likud that is likely to be a potential coalition partner, in the hope that by doing so he could pull the Likud further to the right. But in the current election, Kadima is the probable winner, and Likud is the potential coalition partner. That's why Likud is, I believe, a good strategic vote for Ze'ev this time and not last time.

It's true that if Ze'ev alone votes Likud, his voice will get lost in the shuffle. But if many thousands of Ze'evs (scary thought!) voted for Likud instead of for National Union, then the party's leaders would be aware of it and would be reluctant to lose those votes in the next election. I find nothing either backwards or ridiculous about this logic; it's axiomatic in politics that politicians consider it very important to know where their votes come from and how not to annoy their voters overmuch.

I do believe that our multi-party system is pretty ridiculous, in that it encourages "identity politics" and extremism - which you might label "voting your conscience", but I tend to think of more as "voting badly". My reasons for disliking this system would make a rather long essay on their own; suffice it to say that when political parties survive on the votes of a loyal core group, the path to survival for politicians is to say what makes the core constituency happy rather than what appeals to the broad consensus. In other words, Israeli politicians fight to lose: they don't try to win a majority, but just to maintain their position on their party's list by appealing to their party's particular sector of the electorate.

The net result of our system of "voting your conscience" is not exactly the most ethical politics, is it? Somehow "voting your conscience" seems to result in some of the most conscience-less politicians getting into the Knesset.

By Blogger Don Radlauer, at Tue Jan 24, 08:00:00 PM GMT+2  

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