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.
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.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.
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)!
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—Mozart—String Quartet in G Major, K. 387 (dedicated to Haydn); Kurtág—Arioso – Homage à Walter Levin; Brahms—String 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). https://www.jmc.org.il/index.php?p=stream
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 (www.carmelquartet.com) or from (+972)-3-58-58553353.