Music, Elections and Music Again

I actually started this post yesterday, which was my birthday, so I had inserted the link that appears below in order to remind me of how old I am.  Sometimes I remember and at other times I forget, which seems to be an indication of the fact that I am now 76, which, I am told by some is the new 60.  Blah, blah and another blah.  But somehow the mood wore off me after a short while and as it’s now Thursday, I shall now resume my nonsense for this week.


Well, here we are again.  Israel’s fourth election campaign in less than two years has already begun and we haven’t yet  been informed about who the candidates are to be.  In fact, we’re still not sure which “parties” will be contesting the election for we, the saps, have now entered that “fluid period” when there are still current, former and aspiring Knesset members in search of parties to sponsor their ardently held desires to represent “the people”.  Not that any of them will care too much about “the people” they will claim to represent if and when they are elected. I say this because on the basis of past experience, the day after the election many of these same individuals with larger than average egos and overambitious estimates of their own self-importance will start looking around for a better arrangement that will lead them [ideally] into government or, failing that, into a stridently vocal opposition where they hope that some people , mainly reporters and interviewers, will sit up and take notice of their existence.

The electorate knows quite well from bitter acquaintance with the system that after it (the electorate) has expressed its opinion through “the democratic process”, the politicians will be looking after themselves rather than the innocents who voted for the party which they (the politicians) belonged to on election day itself.  As a result of all this, I am currently minded to cast my vote on two sheets of [preferably used] toilet paper which I will stuff into an envelope; I will then place it in the envelope designed to hold the slip of paper with the symbol of my “preferred” party, and write an appropriate message on the outside.  However, being basically a decent person and not wanting to ruin they day for any unsuspecting teller, I will probably grit my teeth and select a more conventional method of voting.

But be in no doubt; the campaign has started.  Mostly gone are the days when party representatives would knock on your door or stop you in the street in an attempt to sway you to vote one way or another.  Almost gone are the days of cold calls on your phone exhorting you to do the same thing.  There are some very large posters displayed along main roads and across bridges but my phone is already filling up with messages trying to swing me this way or that — not that I will pay much attention to any of them other than to try and block any further messages from the same numbers—a futile exercise really because each of the parties seem to have several numbers from which they will harass and plague us.

It’s really a sad situation and one wonders how the authorities will expect people to stand in line, masked and socially distanced, in order to cast their ballots for politicians in whom we have very little trust after a year of rampant COVID 19.  Will we have to have a negative COVID test less than 72 hours before casting a vote or produce a “green passport” with which to prove that we have been vaccinated?  Will people who have chosen, for whatever reason, not to be vaccinated be prohibited from voting?  Who knows?  Has anyone given it any thought? After all, there is no postal or absentee vote and we now all know that half of American voters know  that that only leads to “stealing” an  election”.  (On this point. ex-President Trump has been (temporarily?) silenced and was absent from the Biden Inauguration last Wednesday, which as President Biden is reported to have was “just as well”.  Soothing words were spoken, which made a change, and the rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” was, I found, extremely moving.)

Still, the Israeli election campaign is already producing some funny moments.  Last weekend, the almost defunct Labour Party, the party that ruled Israel for the first 30 years, elected its tenth leader in 20 years.  Merav Michaeli, a former journalist, TV personality, radio broadcaster, feminist and activist, was elected leader of the party by the small proportion of its members who bothered to vote.  She has always struck me as a very down-to-earth politician who seems to believe in what she says but, unfortunately, she belongs to the wrong party.  Anyhow, I learned of this earth-shattering event at 6 a.m. last Monday morning, during the first of my two daily news updates. One of Michaeli’s first acts as Labour Party leader was to instruct Labour’s two ministers who sit in the government to resign from the their coalition posts as she had been absolutely opposed last year to Labour entering Netanyahu’s government.  They two gentlemen responded by announcing that they were resigning from the party but not from the coalition, thus remaining in their government posts.  What made me laugh out loud was the reaction of one of this pair of insubordinates, Amir Peretz, an individual who is currently Minister of Economy and a former party leader himself, and someone who has been Minister of Defence and Deputy Prime Minister in the past.  He labelled Ms. Michaeli “an opportunist”, and this came from a man who has been a member of five different parties over the years and who doesn’t think twice about the conflict of interests incurred by being elected on one list and the following day leaving it!  What is opportunism other than unscrupulous expediency?  Ask Mr. Peretz!

But enough of Israeli elections.  There are two months to go and lots (or nothing) can happen between now and March 23 (which is just four days before the start of the festival of Passover), so there’ll be lots of unleavened bread, bitter herbs and salt water to mull over, with coalition talks dragging on and on towards the summer.  Great fun!

Meanwhile, Israel’s third (or is it the fourth?) lockdown continues as COVID continues to rage.

Without wishing to apportion blame for this situation on any one group or another, it’s interesting (and perhaps one of the telling points of this whole COVID plague) that almost every decision contains one or more political facets.  There’s little doubt that the Prime Minister will attempt to convince voters that he, and he alone, is responsible for the fact that 3,000,000 people have already been vaccinated.  Yet, the question that needs to be asked OUT ALOUD is why the country is nevertheless in the mess it’s in and who was responsible for that situation.  In Israel’s case, it would seem that there has been more than just a modicum of disinclination to take on and restrain the breaches of lockdown and social distancing amongst some of the Strictly Orthodox (Haredi) and Arab communities, the former having been steadfast allies of the Prime Minister and which, he hopes, will remain so after the election for reasons dear to his heart but something that is far from certain.  In this regard, there appeared in Haaretz this week an interesting article by one of its top journalists, Anshel Pfeffer, (who, incidentally is also the representative of The Economist in Israel and the author of Bibi, the [unauthorised] biography of the man himself.  Mr. Pfeffer explains things in a way that I could never do.  Pfeffer on Haredi violence

Meanwhile, the population looks on in horror.

Looking on in horror!

I am still out most mornings when weather permits, walking though the park and the port.

The streets of the city are near empty; cafés and restaurants are shut although people can still buy coffee to drink out of paper cups (yuk!) and sit on benches that are conveniently situated not too far from where the coffee and croissants can be had.  And as people sit, unmasked and not always 2 metres apart, I sometimes wonder about the anomalies, if not the absurdities, of social distancing rules.

Shabbat morning [external] prayer services. Yarqon Park, Tel Aviv

And being restricted to park and port, I am somewhat limited in the subject matters that I photograph — the sea, the waves, the birds, and so forth.



The Yarqon estuary after three stormy days









Occasionally, there are other things, too, like this very hungry tree making a meal of the railings on Stricker Street.


And on occasion, if you keep your eyes open, you find some other things of interest, like the sign below where it appears that Hebrew- and English-speaking males may enter & pee together and likewise Hebrew-speaking females. However, Anglophoniae are only permitted to enter one at a time (evidently)!

Men & Women and mistranslation

Finally, one of the joys of “working” at home is that a homeless quartet needs somewhere to rehearse, so while they get sown to business in the living room, I’m in the next room writing something like this!

What they were rehearsing was A MUSICAL HOMAGE—MozartString Quartet in G Major, K. 387 (dedicated to Haydn)KurtágArioso – Homage à Walter LevinBrahmsString Quartet in C Minor, Op. 51 No. 1 , for a live-streamed concert to be aired from the Jerusalem Music Center, next Tuesday 2/2/2021 at 19.00 hrs Israel time (GMT+2).

Meanwhile, for those of you who are interested, on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 8 & 9 at 20.00 hrs Israel time (GMT+2), you can purchase tickets for their next streamed concert either via the Carmel Quartet website ( or from (+972)-3-58-58553353.


Monkey Business and more

Not really in the mood

I know I’m late with this one (not that I work to any strict timetable) but I needed to be in the mood and have a little more time for reflection than usual before I put pen to paper (or index fingers to keyboard) this week.  Does one write a blog post and ignore events less than a week after they occurred, in this case after the President of the United States appeared on television screens in America and around the world appearing to give the green light to tens of thousands of his supporters, who had descended on Washington to back his groundless claim that November’s presidential election had been “stolen” from him, to march on the Capitol and demonstrate against this “theft” of what was “rightfully” his?  Giving him the benefit of a teeny-weeny modicum of doubt, perhaps he was unaware that mingled with those who truly believed his claims were assorted thugs and anarchistic groups with agendas and, seemingly, operational plans of their own, who found that the President’s egging on of his own supporters presented them with an opportunity to wreak havoc to American democracy by threatening the lives of the duly elected legislators who had gathered to give formal legitimacy to the results of the election that had taken place a little over two months earlier ?

Spiralling out of control?

His words were more than just a call to thugs and other assorted idiots to march on the building that is the home of American democracy but to disrupt—if not bring to a complete end—the democratic process of rubber-stamping a result that everybody had been aware of for weeks, i.e., that Trump had lost the election.  Perhaps a man who cannot bear to be labelled a “loser”, whose narcissism was dealt a mortal blow, was not entirely aware that his words would be taken so literally and beyond.  What followed this seditious call for an insurrection and the overturning of the will of the people to replace it with the will of Trump just beggared belief.  This was happening not in Belarus or in Libya or Zimbabwe or some other banana republic but in the country which has prided itself as being the embodiment of democracy, a showcase for the rest of the world, armed with ironclad institutions to protect it.

The President of the United States had just incited a mob to disrupt —and perhaps prevent— the peaceful transfer of power from himself to his democratically elected successor.  Perhaps he intended that they just create a rumpus outside the building and intimidate those inside from afar; perhaps he did not did not plan that they enter the Capitol and lay waste to what they found there—but that’s what happened.  And the fact that so many Republican legislators seemed to think that it was all okay — until the mob entered the building, that is — is scary enough but that of those who voted for the Republican Party at the last election think so, too, is scarier still.  His call later in the afternoon, while the hoodlums were on the rampage, “We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens you see the way, others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go home and peace.” would have sounded like a bad joke if only it wasn’t serious and frightening — not just for the USA but for the world as a whole.

The unreadiness of the Capitol police to foresee what was about to happen and to do anything about it when it started it was equally terrifying.  Meanwhile, the Capitol has been turned into a large camping space for part of the 20,000 National Guards who will (hopefully) protect those at the Inauguration of President Biden.  It’s not America and how it prepares for elections is perfect — far from it.  Just think on the one side of the crusades to register “people of colour” and on the other,  legislation to make it  more difficult for them to vote.  Or the perpetual deeds of gerrymandering to influence the results of the election before people cast their votes at all we begin to understand how divided American society is and has always been.

But how America has changed! It used to be if that if there were a close result here or there, after all the recounts and examination  of claimed irregularities had been exhausted, the losing candidate would deliver a concession speech and pledge allegiance to the new President, his administration and Constitution or whatever.  Not this time around.

And while I was listening to Trump’s angry incitement last week and to the reports coming from Washington, I had also started reading Bob Woodward’s Rage, his second book on Donald Trump and had got to the following description from four years ago, just after Rod Rosenstein, who had occupied the second spot at the Justice Department for just 12 days, came in charge of the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election because his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, had just recused himself from the investigation.  Rosenstein had just appointed Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to investigate this, telling one of Trump’s aides that the president should be encouraged because Mueller was going to expedite this and find out whether Trump aides had coordinated with Russia but not to get Trump. A special counsel investigation, he said, would be best for everyone. When Trump was informed (and this was in 2017!!!), he said, “This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked!”

“In line with Rosenstein’s assurances”, wrote Woodward, “the official White House statement from Trump released … that evening said: ‘As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know—there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly. In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country.'”

According to Woodward, “Trump’s placatory tone was the opposite of his mood. The following morning Trump tweeted … that he wondered why there had been no special counsel for ‘all of the illegal acts’ of Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration. ‘The Russia investigation’, he said, ‘is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.’ … Trump’s anger, more than any previously seen by his inner circle, was uncontrollable. He oscillated—stormed—between the Oval Office and his private dining room. ‘We barely got by,’ said Rob Porter, then the White House staff secretary. Trump is a large man—around 6-foot-3 and about 240 pounds, almost the size of a football linebacker. On the move and in a rage, he is frightening. Why Mueller? ‘I didn’t hire him for the FBI.’ Trump had interviewed Mueller for perhaps another tour as FBI director and rejected him. ‘Of course he’s got an axe to grind. Everybody’s trying to get me.’ Impeachment talk was on the TV. ‘What power does a special counsel have?’ Trump asked. ‘Virtually unlimited’, Porter, a lawyer, explained. … Trump stayed mostly on his feet, continuing to move between the Oval Office and the dining room. ‘I have to be fighting,’ he said in a frenzy. ‘I am the president. I can fire anybody I want. … ‘”

Seemingly little has changed in four years—five years, actually if you count the first Trump election campaign—so America had plenty of time to get used to the idea of a crazed man being in charge, a crazed man who has emboldened or perhaps scared into quiescence and pliability the right wing of the party he has led as well as spawning more extreme members of the other party to behave likewise.  As for the witch hunt, according to the President yesterday, it’s still ongoing and is now the worst witch hunt the whole world has ever seen.  Paranoia magnified by ego and self-obsession gone mad.

And this was all so beautifully summed up by Kal in last week’s edition of The Economist newspaper.

And then, what raced through my mind was whether or not something like that could happen here in Israel given the plethora of rightwing fanatics and desperadoes of all shades — secular, religious, strictly religious, Jews and Arabs — there are and, as repeated lockdowns have shown, prepared to ignore decisions taken by politicians.  But, it turns out that it’s already happened, albeit nearly 70 years ago and not because of a disputed election result.  However, it was something I had not been aware of before and which illustrates my ignorance on yet another issue!

And I can’t help wondering whether or not it could happen again though I think that even Bibi Netanyahu, arch-panderer to Trump, might have been surprised by what took place in Washington last week.



Screen Shot 2017-03-21 at 16.20.11

But then if we look back just 25 years ….


And today? Cigars and Champagne

Meanwhile here in Israel, the campaign for the country’s fourth election in less than two years has been launched officially with the Prime Minister receiving his second dose of the vaccine, once more on live television.  Whereas I could understand the cameras being there when he received his first jab three weeks ago (setting an example to the population at large, &c. &c.), this time around when people had already seen him sitting, wearing the same black short-sleeved shirt as he did then, his stalwart self-satisfied smirk sitting smug on his mug, you knew for sure that the election was upcoming, and especially when the news reported yesterday that if things go according to plan, the adult population of Israel should have all received — or at least been offered — vaccinations by mid-March, i.e. just one week before the election

Mind you, last week was not without its funnier events, too.

Strictly unkosher (several times over)

So, before I go further off on a tangent once again, some photographs from the past few weeks since I returned to the Promised Land in addition a few “oldies”.

Avian Reflections, Yarqon Park


A tale (tail?) of angles. Yarqon Park


At Tel Aviv Port (1)

At Tel Aviv Port (2)

Not many of these in the neighbourhood!



It’s been a long, long time.  Nordau Boulevard, Tel Aviv


Hoopoe. Minding its own business and enjoying the sun


Nice n’ easy does it every time


I take things quite seriously

And for those of you who’ve got this far, why not relax with some music.  A concert from last July (the 1st and only one of a planned three before the government banned assemblies of more than ten people indoors) starting the following put paid to the 2nd and 3rd).  Enjoy an hour and a half of Haydn, Ligeti and Brahms.

Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Countrymen …


Israel’s [first?] election of 2021.  YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU [R VOTE]


Adrift with the prospect of another election (yet again!)

Back in Tel Aviv, I completed my fortnight of self-isolation — well, almost.  By my calculation, I should only have been permitted to exit the house last Monday morning but come Sunday, Day 13, I really couldn’t face another day of sitting around inside so I took myself out a day early to buy some bread and coffee beans, not that anyone was checking, or so it seemed. And just as in the previous period after I had spent two weeks in self-isolation in this country, in March 2020, when I eventually emerged from quarantine, it was straight into a lockdown, which began so it was said, on Sunday evening at 17.00 hrs and which is supposed to last “at least a fortnight but probably three weeks — or more”.  Not that anyone seemed to be paying much attention.

It is intended that we not wander more than 1 km from our places of residence but nevertheless one is permitted to do so—for exercise, to shop for food, and several other mundane things.  Public transport is still running, the traffic seems as heavy as normal—people are allowed to travel to work—though many shops are closed.  Food shops are open, pharmacies too, and other outlets providing “essential services and goods”, such as stores selling mobile phones.  It is also intended that we stay away from contact indoors with family and friends but if you want to buy, say, a new washing machine or if you have a problem with, say, your water or electricity supply, there’s nothing to stop you having someone come in and install the machine or fix the water or electricity even though the technician who arrives in your apartment may have visited half a dozen others before he gets to you on that same day. Significant matters, like cultural events are still taboo and remain virtual although musicians and actors are permitted to travel to work to rehearse and record programmes for future streaming or broadcast.  I hate to say this because I understand the objectives of this lockdown but the way things are panning out, it’s really farcical, which is why I heard on this morning’s news broadcast that next week will see the introduction of a new “serious” lockdown, in which there will be greater enforcement of confining citizen prisoners in their cells.

Emerging from quarantine (officially), the first task on my list of things to do was turn up for Vaccination Shot #1.  The day after arriving back from London, I had a text message from Maccabi Healthcare Services asking me to call and arrange an appointment for inoculation. Inoculations in Israel follow a strict order.  First, the Prime Minister and the Minister or Health (on live TV, of course.  What else?), then members of the government and Knesset and the State President, then health care workers and then the “vulnerable”, which includes some people with underlying health issues and the old (i.e., the over-60s!!!).  I called the number within two minutes receiving the notification and got a recorded message (which I had expected) telling me that because of the situation I might have to wait a little longer than usual, so I put the phone on speaker, prepared dinner, then ate dinner, cleared up and then waited after dinner.  Normally, I would have hung up after 15 minutes but I guessed that if I did that the appointment given me would be later than otherwise.  And then, just over an hour after placing the call, it was answered and I received an appointment for 10:04 on December 28 with a second shot due three weeks later.  The instructions were to turn up wearing a mask (naturally) 10 minutes before the designated time to avoid crowding so I duly arrived at 09.56.  I joined the line at 10.00, had a needle stuck in my upper arm at 10.03, was done by 10.05 and was instructed to sit outside in the sunshine for 10 minutes and if I felt OK, I was free to go home. It was like an automobile assembly plant, a conveyor belt.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it before in this country for sure, or elsewhere for that matter.  As of today (Friday), over 800,000 people have already received the vaccine in Israel, quite an achievement indeed.

Nothing could go wrong, they said, except that just after I arrived home, I felt something sickly and then ticklish and took a selfie.  I looked incredulously and then shaved and it hasn’t returned.

I found it hard to detach myself from the Brexit trade talk, which (along with Covid-19) had been the bread and butter of all the news in the UK during most of my time there, and especially during the last month.  With all the song and dance act about “deal/no deal”, I always had the impression that something would work out before the deadline so that it could be approved by the UK parliament by December 31 and so it came to be.  The UK Prime Minister was ecstatic — he’d won back sovereignty, independence and all the rest though other politicians seemed a little less euphoric than BoJo. As things turned out, my attention had been drawn to a BBC television programme Have I Got 30 Years for You, which was a retrospective on a satirical comedy programme, Have I Got News for You, that has been broadcast weekly for the past 30 years.  The format of the programme, which satirises the news of the previous week (mostly), is that there are two permanent panel members (Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye, and Paul Merton, a professional and improvisatory comedian, both of whom have been there from the beginning), plus two guest panellists and a guest host that change from week to week.  At any rate, you can see the “interesting” bit at from 39 minutes and 19 seconds in, ending at 44:55—if you don’t want to watch the whole show.

Take a leaf from Boris’s book and address the voters looking good!

And here in Israel, it’s election time again.  The Knesset failed to approve a budget by the requisite date, so it was automatically dissolved with the result being a fourth election in the space of 23 months due on March 23, not that it is likely to change much.

The dissolution of the Knesset

And it’s taking place early enough in the year to enable a fifth election by the end of 2021 if necessary.  And if it’s not necessary?

Related to this, (yes, really) according to the Mayo Clinic, “Oral medications are often the first line of treatment for erectile dysfunction. …[M]edications work well and cause few side effects [and they include] Sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn), tadalafil (Cialis) and avanafil (Stendra)… .”  So far, so good.  But it’s not erectile dysfunction that plagues Israeli society, for in addition to the Coronavirus, there’s actually something else that might be called “electile” (perhaps more usually referred to as ‘electoral’) dysfunction in which the country and its population is kept in a semi-permanent state of readiness to perform its duty, not that it seems to solve anything at all.  Actually, the real reason there’s another election on the way is because it seems as if the people get fidgety and neurotic if they’re not forced to stand in line to vote every now and then every few months.  It’s rather like having a jab against the virus and then getting a booster a few months down the line..

To say that people are apathetic might be going a bit too far because most of us understand why it’s all happening again but I fail to recognise anything resembling enthusiasm.  When I left the polling station after Elections, Round 2, on September 17 2019, as my ID card was returned to me, I (only half-jokingly) wished the young people checking the voters’ lists all the best and told them I’d probably see them again in the Spring.  This time round, I suppose I’ll tell them—only half-jokingly once more—that I’ll see them again in September-October unless the seemingly impossible happens and the voters manage to scrape together a majority that forces the sitting Prime Minister out of office,

SuperJew — The alternative Israeli Prime Minister?

thereby preventing him from obtaining the kind of immunity he really craves, an immunity of impunity that has absolutely nothing to do with vaccines or Coronavirus. 

… or perhaps this is he?

I wrote on this blog early in 2019 and at the beginning of 2020 that the Israeli electoral system is a mess and I frankly didn’t expect I’d would need to write similar words again so soon.  But as I mentioned on both those occasions, there was a time when as an active academic, I was interested in electoral reform and if I didn’t think that electoral reform was the epitome of an “academic” topic (in Israel at any rate), I might have stuck with it. But we’re landed with the electoral system we’ve got. It’s not that the voters are uninterested in changing the system; it’s just that they’re unaware that there are other electoral systems out there in the wider world that would serve them better.  (I don’t really want to use the word “ignorant” as that would be “elitist” of me — but they are). I find it odd that it’s never a topic that gets discussed in the media or elsewhere and that’s probably because the politicians, for their part, don’t want to countenance any change at all because they are comfortable with the system that exists and they know how it works (for them).


Perhaps I’m just a little cynical (“A little?”, they murmur to themelves as they read this) but the main issue is that Israel’s elected politicians represent nobody but themselves and their buddies in their respective parties.  There are no constituencies or electoral districts; the country as a whole is just a single electoral district.  In order to get elected, a candidate has to be placed high enough on the list of candidates that the parties present to the Electoral Commission.  That means that each of them has to be active within his own party and is beholden only to the party members or leaders and frankly, for the most part, none of them give two hoots or two anything else about the voters.  So voters — ordinary, uncomplicated people like me — get to choose a list of people, most of whom are unknown to the electorate at large.  And in fact, although the lists exist, very few people know where to find them even if they wish to so voters end up picking a piece of paper with a letter or two or three printed on it, symbols representing the party, and stuffing it into an envelope and the envelope into a box. We can’t even express any preference by promoting or demoting a candidate on the list that we choose as is possible in some other countries that operate similar systems.  So given the method used, and my dissatisfaction with the parties and politicians contesting this election, my initial reaction was that this time, instead of taking one of the slips with printed letters on it and stuffing it in the official envelope, I would instead insert two pieces of lavatory paper, preferably used pieces, to make my point.  But I would, indeed, be spoiling my vote.  Consequently, I will probably do something less hideous if not a lot more sensible.  Anyway, lavatory paper is something that seems to enter public consciousness as a commodity that is susceptible to being in short supply during lockdown, so as a potentially scarce item, I shouldn’t waste it on something as frivolous as casting a vote.

At any rate, things stink.

In addition to the absurd lack of resonate responsibility in Israel’s electoral system, one’s vote can only be cast on the day of the election at the polling station designated by the address that appears on one’s ID card.  There is no such thing as an absentee vote; there is no postal vote.   And for a country as hi-tech as Israel is, there is no such thing as an electronic vote.  Very simply put, if you can’t be there on the day and at the predetermined place, you can’t vote—unless you are either a diplomat or a member of merchant marine serving out of Israel on election day.  It’s a absolute shame and a complete sham.

Israeli voters seeking out their polling booths.

In this regard, I had a call one day last week from a friend in London who rang me to find how how I was doing and then launched into a story about him wishing to know when he would be able to get an appointment to have the coronavirus vaccine (in London).  So he contacted his MP and receieing what he regarded as an unacceptable response, he contacted him again and then for a third time.  I listened patiently to this wail and tale of woe and when it concluded, I said simply that he was very lucky to have a representative to contact because in Israel, the populace has no such representative because the 120 members of the Knesset are in no way individually beholden to any recognisable group of voters in any specific geographical area. 

What is entirely lacking in Israel’s political system is something which generates a modicum of humility amongst its elected representatives, something that would remind them—as individuals rather than as members hidden behind a party leader and concealed within the blanket of a party list—that in order to be to re-elected, they have to show to a specific and distinct electorate that they are worthy of re-election.  As long as they’re invisible (or in some cases far too visible and audible) inside a list and the voters can’t “push” them down if they really dislike them, all they have to do is suck up to their party colleagues and they can continue be as corrupt or useless as they want to be.  Or, if they really get exasperated, they can leave and form a new party (see below).  Sadly, there is no electoral reform in the offing and nothing will happen in the foreseeable future or in my lifetime. In its absence, we will continue with the current charade because the only people who are qualified to reform the system are the members of the Knesset (referenda in Israel constitute another pipe dream) and they have no interest whatsoever in doing so!

However, I lost interest in electoral reform at the end of the 1980s, believing that I was wasting time and effort.  I’d participated in three residential seminars held in Tel Aviv, organised by the precursor of the Israel Democracy Institute, a non-partisan think-and-do tank that works to bolster the values and institutions of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, employing applied research to influence policy, legislation and public opinion and electoral reform was part of a more general discussion about a Constitution for Israel.  These seminars brought together politicians and academics from Israel and abroad to discuss the issue through formal presentations, round-table deliberations, and informal chats and discussions over meals.  It was all very enlightening.   One of the Israeli politicians, a former Speaker of the Knesset, said quite openly over breakfast one morning that he thought he had understood something about electoral reform when he agreed to participate in the seminar but that when he heard the discussions, he realised that he actually knew nothing and for a politician to say so in public that he doesn’t understand something was a revelation. But my overall impression after these meetings was that the Israeli politicians present had not the slightest interest in changing anything and would do their utmost to prevent people from discussing it.

So here we are, in January 2021 heading into another election campaign.

There is no shortage of political parties, new or old.  Far from it!  In fact, it seems as if new parties are being created and introduced to the unsuspecting electorate every day.  There are so many parties and so many current and potential Knesset members running from one party to the other that it’s impossible to keep track of who’s having it off with whom.  In fact, the politicians and their parties seem so promiscuous that the whole affair has become definitely orgiastic in nature.  Poltical promiscuity and debauchery seems to be the order of the day!  And the knives are out not just among parties with within them.

… and it’s not at all funny!

An Israeli voter hovers while she surveys the scene below and tries to decide which clump of yarn-spinners to vote for. 

Here we see Israeli politicians arriving to explain to the expectant public the policies of their party and thereby cadge votes from the electorate

Israel’s floating voter


But what they mostly do is turn a blind eye to the voters’ real wishes!


Here we see how they seek out potential coalition partners

Political bullying.  If you don’t join my coalition, I’ll eat you for breakfast!

This is just a quiet difference of opinion among close friends discussing the coalition negotiations


Sometimes things work out badly.  “You ratted on us. Now you’ve paid the ultimate price.”


Caught in the act. Jumping parties from right to left!


But if we join the coalition, we can offer you favours — for a price!


Coalition negotiations over! Exhaustion reigns.


Disgruntled.  Let me out of here (a retiring politician!)


We won!


But not everyone can!


The aftermath of the election campaign

Is it really worth it? Perhaps they’re all bats and a genuine dictatorship is what’s really needed!


Let’s hope that 2021 is a better year than 2020, a year I’d like to be able to forget but probably won’t.