OPINION: After the the Israeli election, it’s time to reach out

OPINION: After the the Israeli election, it’s time to reach out

By Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers

Debbie Young-Somers
Debbie Young-Somers

As I sit down to write this morning, the dust is only just clearing on the ballot boxes in Israel and things may change. But for those of us in and outside Israel committed to a peace tethered to a two-state solution, the prospect of another Netanyahu term is not necessarily one that fills us with joy.

Netanyahu has been clear that a Palestinian state will not exist while he is in power. The fear many Israelis feel about the prospects of Palestinian sovereignty is understandable. But there is a fear many others feel; that to continue with politics as they are will undoubtedly generate more violence and more death.

One of the most shocking parts of election day was Netanyahu’s Facebook statement: “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organisations are bussing them out.”

If Israel is to declare itself the only democracy in the Middle East, how can it be led by a man terrified of 20 per cent of the population?

Imagine if David Cameron worriedly started tweeting on 7 May that Scots were flooding to the polling booths and threatening a right-wing government.

It is not abnormal to find political activists offering rides to get people to the polls. One year I was offered a lift to my voting centre by a campaigner because I wasn’t very well and volunteers were trying to get people out.

As voter numbers dwindle worldwide, we should feel proud of any attempt to persuade more people to exercise their civil rights and duties, particularly when the results affect them.

Of course there are also millions of people whose destinies will be hugely impacted by the outcome of these elections, and who had no say at all and that is those Palestinians who do not have Israeli citizenship.

As we approach Pesach, our festival of freedom, we should feel proud that so many in Israel, from all backgrounds, exercised their right to vote.

Now we need to think through how we continue to work towards making freedom a reality for all the inhabitants of the land. That does not mean the destruction of Israel, but the affording of human dignity and rights to all.

• Debbie Young-Somers is community educator at the Movement for Reform Judaism

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