Don't vote with your calculator

By MARC LURIA
March 26, 2006 06:01
4 minute read.

 
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Many of my friends still don't know how they are going to vote on Tuesday. Others are more sure about their choice, but not happy with it. I am proud to say I'm voting for Tafnit, and whatever happens I will be proud of my choice. I must admit that if Tafnit were not running it would be the first time since my aliya in 1988 that I might not be voting at all. As I handed a Tafnit flyer about fighting corruption to a guard at Jerusalem's central bus station this week, he said all politicians were corrupt. At this, three people behind me spoke up, saying they had served in the IDF under Uzi Dayan, Tafnit's chairman, and that he was different. I've been working with Uzi for the last four years, since he retired as national security adviser. No one in his organization, Security Fence for Israel, took any money for their work there, especially Uzi. When we formed Tafnit last year, Uzi insisted on closing down SFI and giving any money we had raised back to the donors. He really is Mr. Clean. Corruption is the bane of Israeli society. I grew up in the US during Watergate, which shocked the US public. Here corruption doesn't seem to surprise anyone. However, the assumption that nothing can be done about it is wrong. Tafnit is proposing three new laws to help stop corruption. First, that the "5th Amendment" (right to remain silent) be eliminated for public officials. Politicians can, of course, remain silent if they wish, but they can do it at home. Second, the minimum sentence for officials convicted of bribery or other wrongdoing during office should be five years in prison. Lastly, the "cooling-off period" for public officials should be three years. There should be no more going from chief of staff to defense minister in a month; or jumping from the Finance Ministry to become a bank VP. BUT TAFNIT is not just about fighting corruption. We are in favor of self-initiated disengagement from the West Bank along borders that preserve our security, while taking into account the region's demography. Other parties, such as Kadima, talk about disengagement, but we are the only party that has published its planned map. Kadima has chosen not to reveal its hand, but when you act unilaterally the people have a right to know what you will do. Tafnit's plan calls for retaining the Jordan Valley and the three major settlement blocks. About 30% of the West Bank would remain in Israeli hands. We call for resettling 20,000 Israelis behind our new border. Though this process will be painful, it is possible - 10,000 Israelis were relocated from Gaza. Labor's and Meretz's plans to relocate 100,000 Israelis, by contrast, are not feasible. While Kadima, Labor and Likud all claim they will finish the security fence, these parties are responsible for the fact that only 30% of the fence has actually been completed. During the last two years not a single additional kilometer of fence has become operational. Tafnit needs to be in the Knesset to make sure the fence is completed in 2006, not in 2010. Israel is also falling behind in education. In order to allow it to be made a top priority, Dayan has called for a 10% cut in the defense budget. With all his experience he can bring us better defense for less money. All this is very sensible, I often hear, but won't a vote for you be wasted since you won't pass the threshold? It won't, because we have volunteers around the country and the message is getting through. Voters are asking themselves: Why give a 36th seat to Kadima, or an 18th seat to the Likud's Naomi Blumenthal when you can support a party you can be proud of? A FEW weeks ago, at Boyer high school in Jerusalem, the 12thgraders had a mock election. The speakers included Shaul Mofaz for Kadima, Ami Ayalon for Labor, Reuven Rivlin for Likud, and Uzi Dayan. Tafnit won with 40% of the vote, Kadima came in 2nd with 14%. The Jerusalem Post reported in a recent poll that if voters were sure that Tafnit would pass the threshold, 3.9% would certainly vote Tafnit, and another 3.5% would very likely vote Tafnit, 7.4% altogether. If just a third of these voters voted their conscience, we would pass the election threshold easily. Israelis love to make election calculations. A professor friend of mine who agrees with Tafnit's platform plans to vote for the Likud since he wants to make sure Peretz is not elected. No one knows how these elections will play out, and his calculations might be wrong. I think the real question is this: When you look at yourself in the mirror next Wednesday, will you be proud of the way you voted? If all the people who are afraid to vote for us do, we will have 10 seats in the next Knesset. So vote with your heart and your mind, not with your calculator.

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