Find out what's important to young first-time voters

Speaking to 'The Jerusalem Post,' four of Hevruta’s students discussed who they will vote for and why.

 A voting box in the last Israeli election in 2015 (photo credit: REUTERS)
A voting box in the last Israeli election in 2015
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The act of casting a voting slip into the ballot box is the beating heart of democracy and is a right that many fought for and paid dearly for over the generations.
Voting for the first time is therefore an immense privilege and a thrilling experience, as four young men and women from the Hevruta pre-military academy and gap year program of the Shalom Hartman Institute are about to discover when they go to the polls on Tuesday.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, four of Hevruta’s students discussed who they will vote for and why, whether the country is going in the right direction and the most pressing problems facing the Jewish state in 2019.
Yarden Dvir, 18, says she is voting for Blue and White headed by Benny Gantz, and that the primary reason is that Gantz “is not Bibi,” in reference to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Dvir says that Netanyahu has attacked the police and judicial institutions and caused “a division amongst the people,” to such an extent that she is afraid that a civil war may break out to the extremism on both sides of the political spectrum aroused by the prime minister.
The first thing she would want Gantz to do if elected as prime minister would be to legislate term limits for all future prime ministers so as to avoid a situation where one person remains in power too long.
Shahar Citron, 18, thinks that the State of Israel is basically in good shape, and he is voting for Zehut because of party leader Moshe Feiglin’s belief in capitalism, liberalism and the separation of religion and state.
“I believe in personal choice and freedom of choice, and that everyone has the right to chose what they want to do and shouldn’t be forced by others to do what they want,” said Citron.
He said that although there are things to be improved, the country is in “a good state,” and he that he is happy to live in Israel and would not seek to move elsewhere.
Asked about the most pressing problems in the country, Citron said that the conflict with the Palestinians was “awful,” but noted that it is “hard to resolve.”
“There is no will on the other [Palestinian] side to build a state, only to carry out terrorism against Israel,” he said.
Citron’s solution is for Israel to annex Judea and Samaria, rid Gaza of the terrorists there and annex that too and give Israeli residency to all Palestinians but citizenship “a deep, security-based investigation.”
He also believes that the Chief Rabbinate should be dismantled and that decisions regarding personal status processes such as marriage and conversion be up to the individual with all forms recognized by the state.
Noa Pitkowsky, also 18, is voting Labour, stating that it is the party she agrees with most ideologically, and that the party is “Left enough that I agree with them but not as far Left as Meretz, who seem too extreme for me.”
Pitkowsky said that she had thought about voting for Blue and White because of its goal of removing Netanyahu from office, but that “I would rather vote for someone who I agree with ideologically and can help sway the government” towards their agenda.
The biggest issues for Pitkowsky are the conflict with the Palestinians – human rights issue for the Palestinians as well as minorities in Israel including Arab-Israelis and the LGBTQ community – and the control wielded by the Chief Rabbinate over religious life in Israel.
“I am very excited to be voting for first time,” said Pitkowsky of her upcoming democratic experience.
“I feel that I have a real voice in the future of Israel and the Israeli govt, not just to tweet or post on Facebook about it, but a chance where I can make my opinion heard and make a difference in the Jewish state, and say I’m not just complaining about the government, but changing it – and that’s very important to me.”