Monday, December 17, 2012

Keeping it Real

Right before the last American election a few radio pundits (like the ones who caused that poor nurse to kill herself in England) in America interviewed some clueless Americans on the street and broadcast it on the air, making fun of the people who spoke about the election as though they knew something and had an opinion, but in reality were completely out of touch with the candidates, the issues and the stands that the candidates were taking on the issues.

So, OK, I laughed. But it has occurred to me that -- they are I. Israel is heading towards elections in a month (maybe 2 months?) and my head is as firmly implanted in the sand as it could possibly be. I vaguely know some of the politician's names and do remember that Bibi is our Prime Minister. But other than that, I actually actively try to stay out of it. It just depresses me because, frankly, nothing is going to change anyway, so why bother?

Well, I've decided to face the candidates, the issues and the depressing thought that they're all a bunch of idiots, and try to figure out who I should really vote for. This, of course, means that I'll have to spend more than 3 minutes a day reading some news, but isn't that what freelancing is all about?

Anyway, surprisingly (for me anyway) one of the parties that I'm actually considering voting for is Am Shalem, headed by Rabbi Haim Amsalem. Am Shalem means "united people" and promotes Haredi service in the army and integration into the work force, two issues that would do a lot to improve, not only the economic circumstances of many families whose fathers have been taught to avoid work and stay in the yeshivah, but the whole Israeli economy. Rabbi Amsalem was a member of the Sephardi Ultra-Orthodox party, Shas, but spoke out against some of the dictates of the Shas Rabbi, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and made himself a persona non grata. That also impresses me.

One of their main platforms involves finding better solutions to integrate the thousands of non-Jewish Russian immigrants, and their offspring, who have made Israel their home over the last 20 years. That, to me, seems to be vital in this country and I'm pleased to see that Rabbi Amsalem, as an Orthodox rabbi, would be willing to confront some of the oligarchy of the Rabbinute and religious parties.  

I would like to know more about Am Shalem's viewpoint regarding the "peace process" and whether they'd be prepared to agree to a withdrawal from Judea and Samaria. But that's really all the politics I can take for one day, so that can wait until tomorrow.

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