23 February 2009

18 February 2009

The lack of relatively cold weather this winter has made its arrival in February feel more like December, and with it a resumption of nostalgia for an American December. It comes and goes, the other night so burdensome I watched several episodes of Christmas cooking shows online. When it’s this cold, we deserve snow.

Voting the other week felt very anticlimactic, despite the fact it was pouring rain and I still hadn’t decided who would get my vote as I left for the polls. No lines, as only one person is allowed into each polling room at a time; no complicated machinery or drawing necessary, as all one does is drop one slip of paper into an envelope; and no sticker that says “I Voted.” If I ever get into politics, getting that into the electoral budget will be my first piece of legislation. To hell with a new F-16, Israelis deserve a sticker that sets them apart from the maddening crowds in the malls who didn’t fulfill their democratic obligations.

I’m surprised more people haven’t asked from who I voted. Outside of immediate friends and colleagues, the conversation never gets to that specific topic which is good since I’ve been hesitant to approach the topic. Not that I’m embarrassed about my vote, but I wonder to what extent it’s the business of particularly those who don’t have the right to vote in Israel. I’m all for blurring the lines and complicating Israel-Diaspora relations to the extent it complicates notions of identity and belonging; but I also believe in the sanctity & sovereignty of a state and its definitions of who is a citizen. Until the Jewish States decides to take the Law of Return one step further and automatically give it to all Jews regardless of where they live, thus expanding the voter eligibility to my family and friends, my vote stays within these borders.

One of only a few great articles about the 2009 Elections: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1233304810588&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

I’m doing my damnedest to focus on school work, but it’s hard when there’s a long break.

05 February 2009

05 February 2009

An update and current events

-For Inauguration Day, the eexatriate branch of the Democratic Party organized a party in Jerusalem with a live viewing of the ceremony and speech. Amidst hordes of viewers and watching Frace 24's live coverage, we cheered and cried. I got filmed for the website of Yediot Aharonot, Israel's most read newspaper. You don't need to understand what's being said (especially since they didn't use my quotes), it's just me in front of the camera. Here's the link.

As soon as I came back from the party, in my mailbox was waiting the official announcement from the Interior Ministry ocnfirming my eligibility to vote in the upcoming elections.

-Elections for the 18th Knesset are this coming Tuesday and I still do not for whom I'm voting. Here's a basic understadning of how elections work:

~ There are 33 eligible parties, each with their own interests and concerns that range from the environment, workers' rights to the decriminalization of marijuana (two different parties' platforms).
~Each eligible party is given an allotment of time on radio and TV for their campaign ads, based on how many seats in Knesset they currently have, which are broadcasted in blocs starting 2-3 weeks before Election Day.
~The Central Elections Committee has to approve each ad that is slated to air on the same day. They also determine by lottery the day's schedule of ads.
~If you're really that curious, Israeli Election Laws in English can be found here. The site also have a GREAT cartoon about how Election Day works, put together by the Interioir Ministry and the Central Elections Committee (in Hebrew): http://www.bechirot.gov.il/elections18/heb/home.aspx

Nevermind how this compares with American electoral laws: the ads are one of the best forms of entertainment in this country. Every night, so long as I'm not working, I make sure to catch at least one of the TV broadcasts streaming online (the three network channels show the blocs at different times each night, except on Shabbat). After the introduction to the night's broadcast, which is a picture of the Knesset building, the ads are introduced by a blue screen with hte party's full name and its 1-3 letter symbol used on the ballot slips.

Each party has opened their own channel on YouTube with their clips, allowing for repeat performances of some of the best and worst in ads. Some of the ads have been translated by one of my jobs here, with a lot more still out there.

I've been simultaneously commentationg on some of the ads while they are broadcast, and so I present to you (with the help of YouTube) highlights from ads thus far:

Best Jingle: Habayit Hayehudi (The Jewish Home), formerly Mafdal (The National Religious Party). Voted as having the best jingle of all time by Reshet Gimmel, which is running an Election Day broadcast of the best jingles from Israeli history.
The electric guitar, the darbuka, the ay ay ay's, the spinning lazy susan of items that apparently epitomize Religious Zionism, a spokesman in a purple shirt and kippah: wow. Hebrew only.

Best Use of Only Attractive Supporters: Hadash, which partially consists of the Israeli Communist Party (a fact many of their supporters would have you forget). Between the last two wars, candidate Dov Khenin's candidacy in the Tel Aviv-Yafo mayoral elections, and general malaise, they're poised to get a good number of seats. Hebrew & Arabic, English subtitles added.

Most Deservedly Talked About Ad: Shoah Survivors & Green Leaf Graduates. An unlikely combination for a party, including non-supporters of the Pensioners' Party and non-members of the Green Leaf Party (a marijuana legalization party). "Sorry, but there's no credit for this number" is the line wirtten after the scene in the market, and "The Moral Choice" written under the, well, cannabis leaf. Hebrew, with English subtitles.

Finally, at least for the next few hours until the poll open, the two aesthetically best ads:

Koach L'hashpia (Power to Influence), advancing the issues of those handicapped and Da`am, a workers' party with the woman speaking as its head

Da'am: http://babelbear.com/player.php?v=dKgiRfK8mjk&s=99 Hebrew & Arabic, with English subtitles

Koach L'hashpia with the caption "There are people who automatically remain outside" at the end:

We're also expecting a major thunderstorm to coincide with Election Day, so stay tuned to developments.