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Eitan Haber

A guide for the perplexed

There are three existential issues facing this country

When I was nine-years-old, I stood on the steps of the Nahalat Avot synagogue in Tel Aviv, one of the voting stations for the first Knesset.

 

I passed out mock ballots to the few people who came to vote, urging people to vote for the Revisionist Party, which was competing against its sister party, Herut.

 

My father, may he rest in peace, was a Revisionist candidate for that first Knesset, but that's not what I was so proud of that day.

 

I was much more impressed by the fact he was head of the voting station that day. And my father was thrilled: It was the most senior role he could have attained in those days of Mapai's "red book." He was king for a day.

 

In those elections, by the way, the Revisionists were erased from the political map, and joined Herut.

 

Repeating history

 

Some say that history repeats itself, and just like on that Election Day for the first Knesset, when the election results were essentially decided in advance, today, too, Kadima has been declared the "big winner," and everyone else has been left to scrounge of whatever's left.

 

There is one, major difference between those elections and the ones to be held on Tuesday: The candidates for the first Knesset were stubborn and ideological, and voters knew exactly what they were voting for.

 

Today, the fog is thicker than ever. The body politic has never been more lost. So, who do we vote for?

 

Of course, this writer will not voluntarily place his own head on the guillotine. But I have prepared this guide for the frustrated voter.

 

Guide for the perplexed

 

The next government must give answers for three existential issues facing the State of Israel.

 

  • Iran: The most serious problem of all, worse than Hamas or the poverty line. Amir Peretz can talk until he's blue in the face about social gaps, and he'd be right, but Iran's nuclear program is the only, only issue that must be dealt with in the immediate term, with or without – if there is no choice – the cooperation of Western countries. For us, it is an existential issue. To be or not to be. This has yet to penetrate the consciousness of all Israelis because it is far off, unintelligible and essentially unstoppable. It exists in the imagination. But Iran is closing in on a nuclear bomb, and its leaders openly threaten to destroy the Jewish state. This is the only issue on the agenda in the short term for any responsible Israeli government.

 

  • The "convergence plan": Ariel Sharon gave the sign, and the entire country jumped – in support or opposition. One thing is clear, even without Sharon's physical presence: the "architect" of the Whole Land of Israel dream destroyed that dream with his own hands. Today, a massive public – a strong majority, apparently – understands that the country must make "painful sacrifices." The only question is when? Must we initiate the sacrifices? What sacrifices must we make? The map of sacrifice would seem to have already been written. Anyone living on the wrong side of the security fence, anyone living outside "large settlement blocs" can start packing their bags. This includes tens of thousands of settlers, in some of the oldest settlements out there. If the plan actually comes to fruition, it will have unprecedented security, economic psychological and logistic implications.

 

  • Social gaps: Anyone with eyes in his head understands that it will be impossible to continue to live in Israel with such huge social gaps. Currently, the question of when people will break through the poverty line and will build barricades or break into rich peoples' homes is only a matter of time. Whoever the next prime minister is must– must!! – work towards defusing this tinder box.

 

Now, think again about the candidates. Read their words, their platforms, the things they are thinking about, and ask yourselves: Who is the right candidate to lead this country?

 

Eitan Haber was late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's bureau chief

פרסום ראשון: 03.26.06, 13:15
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