Elections! Yes, elections are upon us again and not so long after the last one. We seem to have more elections than we can keep track of and it is easy to understand the burnout many of us in Israel are feeling toward them.
Many Israelis are resigned to just trudging along to the polling station and voting for a party they may not even be excited about and many more may consider not even voting due to the polls predicting they may have another chance soon enough. It’s an almost stale feeling and at best, many citizens are indifferent - at worst, bitter. I, however, take a different perspective.
I for one love elections! Not because I love the interruption to my and my kids’ routine. Not even because I enjoy taking part in the political discourse surrounding the election. To me, an Israeli election is one of the most basic real-world examples of the achievements of the Zionist movement. It is the most relatable act of sovereignty.
Israel's elections are the symbol of Zionist success
It is the symbol that we Jews are here and proud, and have made it. Just a few months ago, we celebrated the 125th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress. In just a few more months from now, we will be celebrating 75 years of Israel’s Independence and the establishment of modern Israel. Imagine what those who took part in that first congress or those who took part in writing Israel’s proclamation of independence would think if they were to see Israel today!
We are a thriving, strong, successful country whose citizens and Knesset make up a broad spectrum of ideals and perspectives. Having a government of our own in a land of our own that is democratic and demonstrative of the very values that the Zionist movement first spoke of all those years ago is the stuff of dreams. In fact, it is almost fitting that there should be an election sandwiched between these two remarkable milestones, a dynamic and even tangible symbol of the culmination of those very dreams.
And while it is true that many Israelis have been to the polling stations more times than anyone might expect over the past few years, let us also remember that there are so many among us who will be voting for the very first time on November 1. There are kids who have turned 18 this year who will be playing their part in the democratic process for the first time. These kids are young, idealistic and ready to make their voices heard through their votes.
They are not yet cynical or jaded towards the political wheelings and dealings that many of us have become tired of over the past year. These kids are looking to be inspired and we should be encouraging them to be engaged, learn and take an active part in our democracy. And that engagement starts with a vote.
There are also thousands of new olim who will be taking part in an Israeli election for the very first time. These people are the embodiment of the Zionist dream and have left their homes and families to live in the land that is their birthright. Having a real voice in determining how they would like to see our country led is an exciting and momentous occasion for many of them.
In addition to those who came after months or years of planning are the many Ukrainian Olim who came here under the shadow of war, knowing that they would be safe and at home in Israel. Israel will always be there to help and welcome them. Seeing our country mobilize to help our brothers in need so quickly was an inspiration and seeing those very olim take part in their first election in their new home is equally moving.
So yes, we have had a lot of elections and yes, some of the discourse surrounding these elections has been a little tense. For those who have had enough of politics, it has been easy to ignore this upcoming democratic event. I am sure that there will be a few frustrated citizens wondering when the next election date would be, and I completely understand and empathize with that.
But this day can also be a wonderful one if we try to look at it from another perspective. It might be the 5th election in just a few years but it is also the Zionist dream come true. Wishing you all a Happy Election Day!
The writer is the head of office and international media at the Diaspora Department of the World Zionist Organization.