This is the way the elections promises line up so far. With over a month to go, it is interesting to see where Israeli politicians are putting their mouths, so to speak.
As we know, election campaigns are generally focused on persuading the floating voter, and so parties often talk less to their home crowd and more aim to impress newcomers. As such, this laudable open source initiative is revealing. The chart above is taken from the ongoing google sheet, to which the public is invited to report politicians’ promises.
In terms of our 4HQ approach, we can see that the vast majority of the promises live within the People/Free areas. 35.5% of promises address economic welfare issues, 13% talk about lowering the costs of housing, and another 2.4 % talk of medical care. Add to that the face that nearly two-fifths of the coalition demands (which make up 20.2% of all promises) also address socio-economic issues, this means that well over half of all election promises made are on what in Israel are known as “chevrati” – socio-economic issues.
Only 6% of promises would fit into the security/peace deals category, compared with 11% of promises addressing corruption and good government. About a third of promised legislation addresses Jewish People issues, such as conversion, the rabbinate, and Haredi conscription to the army – round about 6% of all promises.
So according to promises so far, here is our 4HQ chart of election promises!
The Labor/Tnuah combo has chosen to call itself the Zionist Camp.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not a boutique clothes shop in Tel Aviv, but a political party with serious intentions. Their first introduction to the Israeli public is in this short video that begins with Herzog challenging: “Zionism? Let’s talk about Zionism!”
Soon thereafter this very video was “altered” by the opponents of the Zionist Camp.
We present both videos for you, parsing them through the filter of 4HQ, the Four Hatikvah Questions –
I must emphasize before beginning that these are my personal readings of the videos, hence this blog is under my name not Makom in general. We’ll all be having a go at this game in the coming few weeks – and you are also invited to add your reading to the comments below!
This is one of my poems. Dedicated to my partner, who celebrates his birthday this week. We are celebrating five years of acquaintance, and four years since he told me he loved me.
The eighth candle of Hanukkah. A candle of rain outside, of joy in the home, of faith in general, and of faith in love in particular.
Love is Hard Work
If you see one Rainbow
The second rainbow will show immediately
You said you love me
And if the second rainbow will show
so will the third
You`ll keep loving me
Even if I am fired.
It was raining in Tel Aviv
And Jerusalem kept dry
The price of the petrol just rose
But rainbows are for free.
And love is hard work.
וְאִם קֶשֶׁת אַחַת תּוֹפִיעַ
מִיַּד תַּעֲלֶה הַשְּׁנִיָּה
וְאָמַרְתָּ שֶׁאַתָּה אוֹהֵב אוֹתִי
וְאֵם תעלהַ הַשְּׁנִיָּה תּוֹפִיעַ גַּם
וְגַם אִם יְפַטְּרוּ אוֹתִי
עֲדַיִן תֹּאהַב אוֹתִי
וּבְתֵל אָבִיב יָרַד גֶּשֶׁם
וּמְחִירֵי הַדֶּלֶק עָלוּ
אֲבָל קֶשֶׁת זֶה בְּחִנָּם
Agi Mishol was born in Hungary in 1947 to holocaust survivor parents, and arrived in Israel as a baby. Today she lives in a Moshav, married to a farmer, and her poetry is full of the pastoral landscape in which she lives, of her experiences as a part-foreigner in Israel. I chose the poem “Shahida – Woman Martyr” for its politics. Since when does anyone write a poem about suicide bombings?
You are only twenty
and your first pregnancy is an exploding bomb.
Under your broad skirt you are pregnant with dynamite
and metal shavings. This is how you walk in the market,
ticking among the people, you, Andaleeb Takatkah.
Someone changed the workings in your head
and launched you toward the city;
even though you come from Bethlehem,
the Home of Bread, you chose a bakery.
And there you pulled the trigger inside yourself,
and together with the Sabbath loaves,
sesame and poppy seed,
you flung yourself into the sky.
Together with Rebecca Fink you flew up
with Yelena Konreeb from the Caucasus
and Nissim Cohen from Afghanistan
and Suhila Houshy from Iran
and two Chinese you swept along
Since then, other matters
have obscured your story,
about which I speak all the time
without having anything to say.
One of the more painful weeks in Israel began with the horrific murder in the Har Nof synagogue of three people at morning prayer. It concluded with the response-song by Amir Benayoun.
Benayoun is a talented and powerful singer – religious, Mizrachi, tortured and original. He is so respected that the new President of Israel invited him to perform at the President’s residence for an event commemorating Jews from Arab Lands.
Straight after it was discovered that one of the Har Nof murderers had worked for years at the grocery store just round the corner from the synagogue, Amir Benayoun recorded a song. Called Ahmed, it is seemingly “sung by” an Arab called Ahmed. The chorus goes:
It’s true I’m just ungrateful scum
It’s true but I’m not to blame –
I didn’t grow up with any love
It’s true that the moment will come
when you turn your back on me
And I’ll stick a sharpened axe in it.
It was clearly a cry of pain, with no small amount of deep confusion (the musical style of Benayoun’s singing is so Arab!). It was also an ugly piece of racism. Benayoun’s defence that the song was about one particular person and not all Arabs simply didn’t hold water.
Israel’s President, right-wing Reuven Rivlin, did not hesitate. He immediately cancelled Benayoun’s participation in the festival at the President’s residence. And stated very clearly that it was because of the song.
I light my final candle of hope for my new President, who is committed to bringing light into the darkness.
It’s reality TV. But not like you’ve known it.
To be honest, I don’t know – perhaps the ingenious format of “Connected” is a well-known format outside of Israel, too – but its incarnation in Israel is fantastic.
Each season a group of unconnected interesting, fascinating, sometimes famous people, are given a camera or two for a month or so. They film themselves all the time, interacting with the camera as they would to a very personal video diary, or a running stream of consciousness.
None of them meet – they are in different worlds. One might be a stand-up comedian, another a writer, another the unsuccessful daughter of a successful TV presenter – the connections are made in the editing room. Each episode is themed, and the editor jumps us from character to character, exploring the theme.
It’s not cheap. It’s not sensationalist. It doesn’t (seem to) create monsters to hate, or freaks to ridicule. On the contrary. We see the humanity, the tenderness, the hilarious, and the challenges of real life.
This season I’m in love with the sensitive, unstable, vulnerable and gifted Lior Dayan, son of actor and director Asi Dayan (whose death we experience through the eyes of Lior in one episode – see photo), and grandson of Moshe Dayan. I loved the bit when he’s playing with his baby son who pokes him in the eye, “Don’t do that. We have a thing in the family about eyes,” says his father patiently.
Seventh season of Connected: Seventh candle.
My wife and I went to see the film “Gett” the other week.
It is a wonderfully acted, expertly scripted, infuriating film about a woman whose husband will not grant her a divorce. Since Israel’s divorce courts are orthodox religious courts, the law is constricted by the idiosyncrasies of orthodox divorce law.
The entire film takes place in the cramped rooms of the rabbinic courts of Haifa, and features some of this generation’s greatest mizrachi Israeli actors. The jokes are abundant, as are the frustrations.
We saw the film in a cinema right near Haifa. It was a packed house. As the movie progressed, after Viviane’s request for a divorce had once again been postponed, the sound of people moving uncomfortably in their seats changed. The tutting and oofing started up. Towards the end we were all actually shouting at the screen, united in our exasperation at an untenable situation. The villain had won. And the villain was the legal system itself.
As I walked out of the Cineplex, I was full of energy. “There is no way,” I thought to myself, “there is no way that this film will not change this country’s attitude to divorce and agunot. It is too powerful. Too persuasive.” Indeed it turns out that February’s annual convention of Beth Din rabbis is going to screen the film for all the dayanim to watch.
I light my 6th candle in honor of powerful art that insists on change for the good.
The fifth candle I chose to light with the poetry of Esther Ettinger. She was born in Israel in 1941, and lives and works in Jerusalem. Her writing is suffused with religious language while addressing human existential questions.
In the poem Dynasty, she uses shoes as an object that passes from generation to generation and carries within it historical memory. Shoes are often used in Israeli art as a metonymy for the Holocaust and disaster. In this poem they become a source of power.
Hanukkah is a festival full of light, in which we see women lighting Hanukkiot, and taking a full part in the festive joy. In honor of the women who are creating new dynasties of religious activity I lit the fifth candle of Hanukkah.
black suede, size thirty-eight
that I bought in Rome with my mother
near the fountain
My granddaughters walk in them.
Their big toes swim down into the boats’
and they sail on their high haunches
on a journey through the rooms,
fail and stand up again.
This is how we establish a dynasty.
© Translation: 2012, Lisa Katz
© 2011, Hakibbutz Hameuchad
From: Night and Day
Publisher: Hakibbutz Hameuchad, Tel Aviv, 2011
Apologies to non-Hebrew readers, but my fifth candle has to be for the unbelievable online project, 929. This just started yesterday, and I’m buzzed.
The thinking is to invite everyone to read a chapter of the Tanach every day. On the site are videos, illustrations, and short articles by all sorts of fascinating and diverse people, responding to said text. It’s simple, beautifully designed (to my eye), and absolutely inspiring.
To read Genesis verse one: “In the Beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”, and then look over to the comments space and see Etgar Keret’s oh-so-Keretian question: What happened in verse zero? An absolute delight.
Backed by the Ministry of Education and various charities. Totally free. Provided for all citizens of the world who read Hebrew.
My fifth miracle candle.
One day an entire curriculum of the History of the Jewish People will be built around the new comedy sketch show, The Jews are Coming. They hit it all – Bible, Talmud, Inquisition, Dreyfus, Ben Gurion, Eichmann, and even Yigal Amir. Although they do have a little difficulty finding ways to end the sketches, they normally hit winners throughout.
This sketch plays on the Purim story, and translates the Hebrew “zonah” in a very gentle fashion. “Whore” would be a more accurate rendition. As well as offering humorous, feminist critique of the ancient text, it also makes a lovely sideways reference to the way in which girls’ Purim costumes get more and more sexual every year…
The jokes do not only fly at surface level. There is even a recurring game show involving Rashi and Cassuto, two quarrelsome Bible scholars, shooting barbs at each other in the studio as they did, some thousand years apart, in the biblical literature.
My fourth candle is dedicated to the light of Israeli comedy, drenched in history and Jewish text.