Israelis deserve to be disturbed during dinnertime

It's a detriment to Israeli society that grass-roots campaign voter-contact is absent so close to the elections.

Habayit Hayehudi votes in primaries 390 (photo credit: Lahav Harkov)
Habayit Hayehudi votes in primaries 390
(photo credit: Lahav Harkov)
Compared to their North American counterparts, the average Israeli enjoys an impressive awareness of the goings-on at home and abroad, culminating in a seemingly impossible level of informedness during times of military conflict.
However, in my frantic attempt to decide for whom I want to cast my ballot, I have repeatedly run into intelligent, savvy, and knowledgeable Israelis from all walks of life that profess, forthright, their ignorance of many of the candidate’s positions and records.
To most immigrants from North America, escaping to a functioning democracy in which there exist no well-established political machines harassing voters for their support probably seems like a dream come true. Where I come from, thousands of annoying campaign volunteers (and I was, for the longest time, one of them) stick pamphlets in mailboxes, knock on doors, leave automated voice messages, and of course, disturb electors during dinner with an ill-timed phone call to ask for their vote. This process, called voter contact, is the bread-and-butter of political campaigns in most Western democracies, and is all-but non-existent in Israel.
No candidate has sent me, or anyone I know, any literature expressing what he or she stands for.  I have yet to hear of a single instance of a volunteer knocking on someone’s door to ask for their vote. Not one party has left me a message slandering their opponent’s record. The entire communications strategy of all contenders seems to consist solely of bus ads, billboards, and TV commercials, none of which speak directly to the voter in a meaningful way.
A well-informed vote is dependent on politicians successfully defining themselves and their opponents, and challenging one another’s ideas, beliefs, records, and assertions.
In an electoral system as complicated as Israel’s, wherein new parties and politicians seemingly materialize out of thin air every election, such a brazen lack of effort on the candidate’s part is a massive disservice to the electorate. It is incumbent upon politicians to keep one another “honest,” so that no candidate can successfully run away from their records without being called out for dishonesty by their equally dishonest rivals. It’s only half-facetiously that I complain that in Israel the liars fail to call the other liars “liar” with the same frequency that they do in other democracies.
The media is neither a suitable nor sufficient force to fact-check all of the claims made by the various parties, nor is it the job of journalists to disseminate conflicting accounts to the voters. Neither is the onus on those selfsame voters to actively seek out information about the parties, or to extract sufficient familiarity with a candidate’s positions from a seven-word billboard on the side of a bus. Those tasks are solely the domain of competing politicians and their workers, who ought to be literally beating on doors, chasing down voters, and canvassing neighborhoods to get their message across to constituents.
Israelis have a right to hear the contradictions, wild exaggerations, and slanderous half-truths straight from the horse’s mouth. They deserve to be berated with pamphlets and slogans and phone calls by their politicians with at least the same intensity that they are solicited to buy strawberries in the shuk.
For a people who are internationally notorious for being assertive, candid, and loud, it seems not only underwhelming, but also positively un-Israeli, that politicians should be so coy, mild-mannered and reserved. Israelis will almost certainly come to resent it, and who could blame them, but for the good and welfare of Israeli democracy, voters here deserve to be disturbed during dinnertime.