Dear Britain: Welcome to Israel!

May 7, 2010 by

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Residents of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland woke up this morning and found themselves asking an unfamiliar post-election question: who won?

I couldn’t help giggling. The British are used to their elections being like tennis matches: two parties slog it out, and at the end of the match, there is only one winner. Israeli elections just don’t work like that. They’re more like mud-wrestling. There’s never one clear winner: the people elect their representatives, then avert their eyes while those duly elected representatives wrestle in the mud to see who gets to come out on top.

But today the Brits have to put their tennis whites away and get ready to see their politicians getting down and dirty for a few days (maybe more!). What fun this is going to be! Maybe the British will enlarge their cabinet and create “ministers without portfolio” to satisfy the power-hungry! Maybe there will be unholy alliances that cast aside principles and ideology! Maybe we will see horse-trading, back-stabbing, impossible-promises-making, and dirty tricks!

But maybe, just maybe, we’ll see something else. Maybe we’ll see that British politicians are not prepared to sacrifice their ideals to cling on to power. Maybe we’ll see them do the honourable thing rather than compromise their principles just to gain a seat in the cabinet. Maybe the aftermath of the British elections will give Israelis a glimpse of how coalition building can be done with dignity.

Will the British show us an example to be emulated, or disappoint us by stooping to our levels? I can’t wait to find out.

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