The Israeli Voter’s Voice: Noam Mark, Gaza belt

The first in a series profiling voters from different sectors of the Israeli society ahead of the elections.

Noam Mark (photo credit: Hadas Parush)
Noam Mark
(photo credit: Hadas Parush)
“At my home, I have a very big bomb shelter. It is not relevant,” said Noam Mark, resident of Kibbutz Re’im in the Gaza belt. “Code Red is 1, 2, 3, 4, Boom.”
Kibbutz Re’im, 5 kilometers from the Gazan Strip, was constantly bombarded with Code Red sirens and bombings during Operation Pillar of Defense in November.
The kibbutz is not within the distance range set by the government to be entitled for the protection plan, nor is it within the interception range of the Iron Dome missile defense system.
Speaking with The Jerusalem Post just over a month since the operation and a few weeks before the election, Mark said that he has lost his faith in the current government.
“I remind you, from the end of Operation Cast Lead until now with Operation Pillar of Defense, thousands of rockets were fired at towns in the Gaza belt. It’s a routine. We have been living here in a routine state of emergency.”
Mark, CEO of Re’im’s Isralaser metal factory and a husband and father of three girls, described the period of the last operation as an experience of disillusionment.
He said the biggest challenge was reaching the understanding that what happened will happen again in the future, and that the leadership gave up on citizens of the Gaza belt, allowing rocket fire on that area without making any decisions as to how to stop it.
During Operation Pillar of Defense, Hamas rockets reached as far as Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Rishon Lezion, and ended with a terror attack on a bus in Tel Aviv just before a cease-fire was reached.
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“This is something that 20 politicians can sit here and try to convince me that I don’t understand and that I can’t just see things from the point of view of a citizen,” Mark said. “But I say, that a country that doesn’t react to the shooting of mortars, and to shooting towns close to the border because it’s only there, then that country enters negotiations with the devil that will end with the blowing up of a bus in Tel Aviv.”
Government promises of compensation for citizens of the South or providing better protection against rocket threats do not impress Mark. He said that the government is playing with fire rather than making concrete decisions when dealing with the conflict with Hamas.
“There are no politicians who are going to stand up and say – ‘I am going to do something different with the Gaza Strip.’ It doesn’t matter what that something different would be,” he said. “It could be peace, it could be war. But ‘I am doing something that will end it once and for all.’ That takes courage. And it’s very hard for leaders with courage and composure to survive in our political market, in our political swamp.”
When asked which political party he relates to, Mark said that it doesn’t matter whether the government is right-wing or left-wing. He described the ideal leader as someone capable of making hard decisions, having political courage, and standing strong in the face of his opposers.
“I have to vote for a person of principle, because a person of principle, regardless of who he is, wouldn’t give up on me. The person who sits in the current government and approved giving up on me as a citizen...I cannot vote for such a person.”
At this point, Mark said, statements made by Tzipi Livni such as creating dialogue with the Palestinian Authority on the one side, while creating clear deterrence against Hamas on the other, are statements that he can easily relate to.
“I really think that my way will be Tzipi Livni’s way. She has shown to this day that she stands by her principles.”
Tzipi Livni was the opposition leader and chairwoman of the Kadima party from 2009 to last year, when she was defeated in a party primary by Shaul Mofaz.
In November, she formed a new centrist party, known as The Tzipi Livni Party in English, and Hatnua in Hebrew.
“At the moment I see that only Tzipi Livni is a politician with a heart that equals her words,” Mark said. “What she said and what she committed to – that is what she’ll do.
Therefore I think at the moment she is the candidate that I prefer in every aspect.”