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A dog stands on a table as its owner casts her ballot at a polling station in Tel Aviv March 17, 2015. Millions of Israelis voted on Tuesday in a tightly fought election, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing an uphill battle to defeat a strong campaign by the centre-left opposition to deny .(Photo by: NIR ELIAS / REUTERS)
A former MK, an IDF veteran and Levi Eshkol’s secretary express hope
Edelstein says there is “too much hatred” in the country at the moment and that “There is no leader who can calm the people.”
In the tumult of the election campaign we have been bombarded with outlandish campaign videos, snide tweets, endless SMS messages, Whatsapp messages galore, prognostications, deliberations, argumentation and much sound and fury.

But the residents of the Nofei Jerusalem assisted living home, many of whom are older than the state, offer a broader, calmer and less fraught perspective of the elections and the state of the country.

Interestingly, it was a rather dovish perspective.

As the residents formed orderly lines to exercise their democratic right and vote at the home’s disability accessible polling booth, some spoke with The Jerusalem Post about their political opinions and voting intentions.

Tamar Eshel, 98, is a former MK for the Alignment Party (a union of Labor and Mapai), a former diplomat, former deputy-mayor of Jerusalem and a resident of Nofei Jerusalem.

Born just after World War I, Eshel’s family moved to Haifa during the British Mandate. She served in both the Hagana and British military intelligence in Cairo, and helped smuggle illegal Jewish immigrants into Mandate Palestine before the establishment of the state.

It’s fair to say she’s seen a thing or two.

But even Eshel was, as of the time of writing, still undecided as to how she would vote – not because of a lack of knowledge about the parties themselves, but due to a lack of certainty as to the best way to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, she said.

“I am one of those who wants Bibi to leave his post,” said Eshel, but added that she was not sure whether or not to vote for Blue and White to give it a chance to become the biggest party and perhaps get the first opportunity to form a government, or to vote for one of the parties “who represent a very important path which I identify with.”

That path, she says, is of working towards a two-state solution and ending Israeli control over the Palestinians and of strengthening the rule of law which, Eshel argues, has been harmed by the outgoing government.

“The Palestinians are faithful to the land no less than we are,” she said, and expressed mystification over people who she said “think they will wake up one day and the Arabs will have disappeared. It won’t happen.”

She continued “I do not enjoy that we control them and that we are causing apartheid, we cannot control the West Bank and we don’t need another two and a half million Palestinians here.”

Eshel also lambasted what she said were attacks against the independence of judges and the courts by the outgoing government and said that the elections were “fateful” for Israeli democracy and the principle of equality amongst its citizens.

MEIRA EDELSTEIN, who served as secretary to Israel’s third prime minister Levi Eshkol, is upset by today’s political leaders, who she says talk too much and do too little.

Edelstein says there is “too much hatred” in the country at the moment and that “There is no leader who can calm the people.”

She nevertheless voted for Blue and White, saying that she too wanted a change in the country’s leadership.

“I voted for [Blue and White leader Benny] Gantz because I wanted to give him a chance. He is an honest man and I want to change the government now,” said Edelstein.

She also laments bureaucratic obstacles faced by everyday citizens and what she describes as the disinterested nature of Israeli youth in the country.

“It’s very sad for me what’s happening, it pains me. The young generation doesn’t know the history of this place and they’re not interested in it either. They just go for short information on Wikipedia and social media,” she says.

Asher Cailingold, 89, was born in London and moved to Israel in 1957. He has voted in every election since he came to the country and fought in the IDF on the Golan Heights during the Six Day War in 1967.

A religious man whose family suffered the loss of his sister who died defending the nascent state in Jerusalem in the War of Independence in 1948, Cailingold was a former activist in the Bnei Akiva religious-Zionist youth movement and first settled in Israel in Kibbutz Lavi of the religious-Zionist movement.

And Cailingold, like Eshel and Edelstein, is unhappy with the direction the last government took the country.

He said that the current prime minister “would have resigned by now under normal circumstances,” noting that Yitzhak Rabin had resigned due to lesser allegations of financial impropriety, and attributed the “abnormal” circumstances of the country to Netanyahu’s long tenure in power.

Cailingold would not divulge who he was voting for, but like Eshel said that the most pressing concern facing the country was the conflict with the Palestinians, from whom he said Israel needs to separate.

“The idea of one state solution is impossible, then it wouldn’t be a Jewish state,” he said, adding that if “the wrong people” are elected, that is what is going to happen.

“We will have two types of citizens, those who can vote and those who cannot. Either that, or everyone will be able to vote and we won’t have a Jewish state,” he asserted.

He said however that there is currently “no partner” amongst the Palestinians with whom to come to an agreement, but insisted that Israel needed to decide exactly what it wants for a solution to the conflict and then work towards implementing it.

Out of all the candidates he voted for, Rabin was his favorite, says Cailingold, who he said “was capable of thinking analytically and taking the lead.”

Despite his concerns about the country’s direction, Cailingold was optimistic about the future.

“We are beginning to see the glimmerings of hope. We have a lot of charlatans [in politics], but for the first time for a long time we’re seeing serious and honest people coming into politics who may not have done so in the past, but are doing so now because they’re looking for change and improvement.”

Eshel echoed her neighbor’s optimism.

“According to what I have said, I should be pessimistic, but it’s against my nature. I am inclined towards optimism, although it is difficult at the moment,” she said.

“I believe that fate will change. It takes time for changes to happen, but I want to believe it will happen.”
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