Campaigning outside the Tel Aviv University campus on Monday, activists from across the political spectrum agreed upon one thing: the apathy of their fellow students concerning next week's elections.
A mere 344 students participated in the mock elections that took place outside the university's main gate. They ended with surprising results: Meretz won with 30 mandates, followed by Labor (29), Kadima (29), Hadash (16), Green Leaf (10), Israel Beiteinu (5), Likud (3), National Union-National Religious Party (3), and Gil (3).
"The different parties did their utmost to bring voters to the voting station and to convince the students," said TAU Student Union chair Boaz Toporovsky. "The results indicate that students at Tel Aviv University gravitate to the Left. Usually this is not surprising, but in light of Kadima's status in the general public this is indeed a surprise, because Kadima came in third in the student elections."
Uri Pekelman, an Israeli studying in Paris who came back to Israel to volunteer for the Meretz campaign, conceded that he was among a small number of students who actually cared enough about the outcome of the election to take a stance. Most of the student activists said that, while few students expressed any interest in their platforms, even fewer would consider the education platform of the party they voted for before they cast their ballot.
Liat, a student in special education who voted for the National Union-National Religious Party, said she wished her chosen politicians had a stronger social and educational agenda. Nevertheless, she said, "I have to make priorities."
During the morning, representatives of different political parties presented their platforms in the vicinity of the student voting station.
Some of them, however, left without even speaking, due to the low turnout of students - including MK Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) and Israel Beiteinu candidate Yitzhak Aharonowitz.
"Students are simply afraid, like most Israelis," said Greenpeace activist and psychology major Imri Cohen. "Their point of departure is that the government is corrupt, that everything is lost, and that there is nothing that can be changed. I see it as a result of collective post-trauma, a sense of total impotence."
"I'm not apathetic - but it seems purposeless to participate in these mock elections," said Natali Gan, a student passing by the party stands.
Gan also said she was not sure she would vote in next week's elections. "It all seems the same to me," she said. "I don't feel a connection to any party."