A View from Down Under: When Jews vote

When push comes to shove, which value of yours is more important – your value as a member of the Jewish people, or your value as a member of the human race?

September 24, 2013 12:30
2 minute read.
Conservative candidate Tony Abbott vlaims victory in Australia's federal election, Sept. 7, 2013

Conservative Tony Abbott wins Australia election 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Every election that comes along, brings with it new hopes and new fears -  this is our natural human reaction to any change in the status quo. Will my life improve or will it deteriorate? I know what I have now – but what will this change mean for me in the future?

Elections were recently held in Australia, sweeping away the more socially progressive Labor government to be replaced by the more conservative Liberal government. The Liberals are seen as more pro-Israel than the Labor government; however, while there has never been any obvious open antagonism towards Israel from the Labor government itself, many elements within the movement are openly against Israel and very supportive of the BDS movements. Additionally, due to the nature of the previous government, the Labor party had to align itself with very left wing groups such as the Green Party, which is definitely no friend of Israel.

This leads me to the question of the conundrum that many diaspora Jews likely face in their countries general elections. Jews are generally considered a liberal group – liberal in the sense of social rights, freedom of thoughts and personal freedom. So if you’re a Jewish person who is very supportive of Israel, yet you are also socially progressive – how do you vote?  Do you support a party which aligns itself with groups that go against the State of Israel, yet shares your progressive values?  Or do you betray your own social values, but support a party which is considered pro-Israel?

I don’t think there is an easy answer to the above questions. In Australia, like America, we are fortunate that both major parties are considered fairly central and their support for Israel is generally strong. There are even Jewish Members of Parliament in both the Liberal and Labor parties.

But what happens in this multi-pluralistic stable society, if that all changes? Which value of yours becomes more important – your value as a member of the Jewish people, or your value as a member of the human race?

In a perfect world, you are fortunate if all your values align together with the political party of your choice. In a more realistic world, however, that is seldom the case, and it is often one of the many challenges faced by Diaspora Jews.

Justin Amler is a South African born, Melbourne based writer who has lived in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia and is currently working in the Information Technology industry. He is an avid contributor to discussions on Israel, writing frequently to local newspapers. He has a keen interest in politics and creative writing.

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