Elections 2019: Who will Israel choose?.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
To the candidates of all the parties running for election to the 21st Knesset, here is something to think about: What are other people thinking about?
1) Russians are thinking about conversion and civil marriage.
2) Ethiopians are thinking about their families left behind.
3) Anglos are thinking about double taxation and policies that make it harder to make aliyah.
4) Citizens living along the periphery are thinking about equal opportunity.
5) Young couples are thinking about how to afford to buy a home.
6) People who run independent businesses are thinking about their regulatory difficulties, lack of benefits and high taxes.
There are so many important issues of concern across society, yet we barely hear a whisper about any of them.
A poll by commissioned by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation this week found that among eight choices presented to voters, the No. 1 concern was security. What’s the solution? Will we continue to rely on miracles, like the Wolf family managing to herd all seven members into the shelter on Monday morning, seconds before a rocket demolished their home?
What plans do the parties offer? What would they do differently than what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is already doing? Based on the interview Benny Gantz gave to Channel 12 on Monday night, it seems not that much.
The poll found that the next seven choices of concern were employment, education, corruption, healthcare, democracy, the lack of a peace process and regional cooperation. All parties should declare where they stand on these most basic issues.
Another survey, by the Israeli-founded GPS navigation company Waze, showed that 56% of the public believes traffic congestion is one of the three most critical issues currently facing the country, more pressing than relations between Jewish and non-Jewish Israelis, or matters of religion and state.
There’s good reason: Traffic congestion on Israel’s roads is the worst in the OECD, more than three times the Western average. Some 70% of the 1,000 Israelis surveyed said they sit in a long traffic jam at least once a week, and approximately half said they sit in traffic for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
What are the New Right, Gesher, Zehut, Yisrael Beytenu and Blue and White going to do about it? Do they have ideas about how to ease traffic? What are their proposals?
Another question: What must the next government do to ensure the continuation of Israel’s hi-tech success? Technology-related services were the fastest growing sub-sector in 2018, which saw a sixth consecutive year of record growth, with start-ups raising a record $6.4 billion in 623 financial deals.
What are Degel Hatorah, the URP, Yesh Atid, Balad and Otzma Yehudit’s plans to maintain that growth?
In a third survey published this month, this one by the Israel Democracy Institute, 25% of the electorate said they will base their vote on socioeconomic issues. While many parties are promising greater investment in health, transportation and education, questions remain about where that funding will come from.
That brings us to the bane of all politicians: taxes. As The Jerusalem Post’s Eytan Halon reported last week, economists are nervous about what happens after Election Day. “I am very concerned that we, the citizens, will all be surprised that whoever rises to power will say that all those plans they presented – whether in education, health, pensions or welfare – cost money,” a former director-general of the Israel Tax Authority told Halon. “They’ll say there’s a budget deficit and are ‘forced’ to raise taxes.”
The parties, though, are silent. No one talks about taxes and no one reveals real plans of what they will do if and when they receive the Treasury portfolio.
Is it too late? Have we run out of time to ask for a civil campaign that is about these issues? Or will we just continue along the lowest path of populism, slamming the other as being corrupt, a traitor or a thief?
There are 13 days to go until Election Day. Let’s use them to focus on the issues.
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