Tuesday, 11 November 2008

I wanna be elected!

It's municipal election day today in Israel.

As far as I can tell, people do take this stuff very seriously. In the 'city' (I use the word advisedly - its population is slightly less than that of my old neighbourhood in London) that I live, there have been lots of lively arguments about all sorts of things, from traffic to the (alleged) Charedisation of the city - apparently there are Jews who are afraid of the Men in Black too - and lots of other stuff in between.

I guess that it must have something to do with the fact that the Mayor and his Council have real money and real power, and thus can be held directly accountable for their successes or failures.

I have my little voting card tucked away somewhere, and I'll be off to perform my civic duty in a little while.

(Goys, interlopers and other non-Israelis legally in the country are allowed to vote in municipal, but not in national elections).

A bit more interesting is the race to be Mayor of Jerusalem.

Frankly - and there is no polite way of saying this - the race appears to be run between an assortment of oddballs.

There is Nir Barkat, a businessman WHO GETS THINGS DONE, and who is apparently under the delusion that he is already Mayor of Jerusalem, judging from his campaign literature;

Meir Porush, a Black Hat (Orthodox Jew), who is promising to build lots of nice Jewish houses between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim, across the Green Line; this is the new manifestation of King Arik's 'facts on the ground' policy from the 80s, as a way of getting rid of the troublesome Arabs who still believe that part of Jerusalem may yet one day become theirs again;

Arkady Gaydamak, about whom the less said the better, other than that he has somehow managed to get himself perceived as the champion of the Arabs (which he ain't - he champions himself, left right and centre) because he has suggested that they have some rights too (which, in any other context, would be so basic a fact that it wouldn't even need to be mentioned. But we are talking about Jerusalem);

Dan Birron, (video: but in English) who represents the Ale Yarok (Green Leaf) party, and thus is obviously a stoner. I'm not really sure where he stands on anything, other than the fact that he decided to chuck his hat in the ring because Barkat, the front runner, was at some point alleged to be suggesting an alliance with the Religious Shas Party to run the city.

I should also point out that Barkat, has also committed to building houses for Jews from Jerusalem to the Allenby Bridge crossing into Jordan (I exaggerate somewhat, you would surmise correctly, but you get my point).

(There is also some guy from Meretz, the left wing party, called Pepe. He has a big beard. But no one is paying any attention to him, and I can't be arsed going to find out anything else about him now, so I'm going to pretend he doesn't exist.)

Writing in Ha'aretz, Yossi Sarid (who seems to be working hard to become the Grand Old Man of Israeli politics, kinda like Tonny Benn in England but without the pipe) suggested that the choice on offer was that between a 'plague and a contamination'. Nice language, although I prefer Johnson's suggestion that 'there is no setting the point of precedence between a louse and a flea'.

Not that it matters. I don't have a vote in Jerusalem anyway, so I shall continue my unilateral policy of benign indifference to the city.


I've just reviewed Samir El-Youssef's new novel, A Treaty of Love, for some small publication hutz l'Aretz (outside the country). It is about a love affair between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man, living in London during those heady halcyon days after Oslo (I'm being cheeky, in case you wondered.) I'm still not quite sure what to make of it. If anyone reading this has an opinion, do be so kind as to drop me a line. I'm curious.


ps - if you're wondering, the picture is of Alice Cooper. He once had a hit called 'Elected'. Many, many years ago. He now plays golf a lot. I like Alice Cooper, and I'd vote for him if I could.

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