Saturday, November 18, 2006

Sderot Aftermath- Revisiting The 2006 Election Day Vote

I was extremely saddened this week to hear that the inevitable had finally happened – a resident of Sderot was killed by a mortar shell. Many people on the Right, like WestBankMomma expressed outrage that the government is doing nothing to protect the lives of it’s citizens.
I see no reason to be surprised at this behavior on the part of the government. After all, Olmert is a well known proponent of the disastrous disengagement plan, Amir Peretz is a radical left wing “dove” (do real doves allow their young to be killed without hindrance? I doubt it…), and the rest of the coalition is not much better.
The question in my mind is different – I am interested in seeing if, and when, the Israeli public will start to use it’s basic democratic rights to change the current state of affairs for the better. Since the quintessential act of democracy is voting on election day, I thought it would be interesting to revisit the way Sderot residents voted in the last elections.

As you may recall, the elections were held just half a year ago, after the Disengagement was committed. Sderot was already being shelled almost on a daily basis and the government, headed by Olmert, (after Sharon got a stroke), was bravely doing nothing (at least we have consistency) to protect the citizens of Sderot.
With the help of the excellent Knesset web site I easily found the results for Sderot on this page, so the data presented here is taken from there. One would expect that a town under constant fire, which was predicted to only get worse, would vote for the parties most likely to defend Sderot from this daily horror, but one would be wrong!

Result of Sderot Vote for the 2006 Elections.
8738 votes were cast in Sderot, of them 8512 were valid. I am giving the results in percentages.
Labour Party – 25.4 %
Israel Beytenu – 19.5%
Shas – 14.7%
Ihud-Leumi – 11.9%
Kadima – 11.8%
Likud –10%
Yehadut Hatorah – 1.3%
Pensioners Party – 1.1%
The rest of the vote – all 4.3 percent of it went to various parties none of which received more than one percent of the vote.

So, what does this mean? In trying to make sense of this I propose to divide the vote between right wing, left wing and centrist parties.
On the left I put labour, kadima, pensioners, and yehadut hatorah – together these parties garnered 39.6% of the vote.
On the right I put likud, ihud-leumi and Israel-beytenu, which together got 41.4 percent of the vote in Sderot.
The only centrist party in my opinion was Shas and they got 14.7% of the vote.
Even if you disagree with the way I divided the parties – and I myself disagree with it – still the results are pretty obvious in that they indicate that the residents of Sderot did not vote overwhelmingly for the parties most likely to rise to their defence.
In fact the residents of Sderot probably did the worst thing possible in giving their “HomeBoy” Peretz a quarter of the vote.
If the residents of Sderot were concerned solely with their physical survival I would expect them to vote for the party most likely to supply this rarest of commodities, which, in my view, would be the Ihud-Leumi party. But the national religious party got only 11.9 percent of the vote, which is about the average on the national level. No other right wing party got more than 20 percent of the vote (received by Israel-Beytenu), and I have doubts that a party including Sopha Landver, for years a member of the Labor party and Shimon Peres’ protege can honestly be called a right wing party. Judging by this party’s most recent behavior – joining the corrupt, hapless, and hopeless Olmert coalition, this assessment is correct.
So I conclude that a majority of the residents of Sderot were concerned at the time with other issues. I cannot pretend to understand exactly what they were and why they were judged to be more important than staying alive. I only know this – they were replicating a pattern that came out in almost every other part of the Jewish populace in these elections – denying the harsh reality of impending genocide in favor of the façade of normalcy.
It seems that as a nation we are particularly adept at this kind of mental gymnastics. This escapist habit has been our downfall before, and it will be interesting (to say the least) to see if we will be able to kick the habit in time, before it kicks us into our graves.


1 -Isn’t it ironic that the Israeli Defense Minister lives in a town that he refuses to defend? After the Lebanon debacle, and in view of Mr Peretz's performance as a politician - completely betraying his supporters - and as Defense minister - completely betraying his country - maybe it would be more appropiate to start calling Peretz "The Minister of Pretense".

2 – The media, here and abroad, plays a major role in the current war, which is, really, World War 3. For this reason, where we get our information each day is even more important than how we vote once every two to four years. That’s why you should ask yourself “Whom Did You Vote For In Today’s Elections?”

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mother in israel said...

Too depressing for words.

westbankmama said...

Good analysis, although very sad too.