Amazing election here in Israel! I am proud and honored to be a citizen of this society where our political discourse is as surprising as it is vibrant. During the weeks of the campaign, respect for our differences allowed uncanny openness. There was hardly an encounter between people – on the street, in stores, cafes, schools, community centers, concerts, and at home where we did not directly engage and debate election choices. A brand new center party, Yesh Atid – “There is a Future” swept in 19 fresh, energetic people into our 19th Knesset on a platform of improving education, responsible change in economic policy, national service for all – including the ultra-orthodox, and support for pluralism and innovation. Hurray for Pnina Tamano-Shata, number 14 on Yesh Atid’s list – the first Ethiopian woman to sit in our Knesset. Though Bibi will most certainly lead, Israelis have not moved to the right – in spite of the seething political climate and threats coming from our Middle-Eastern neighbors, at our borders. Indeed, the right has been substantively eroded as Meretz more than doubled, and the renovated Labor party rose up with Shelly Yachimovich at the helm. The social protest movement is filtering into Israeli politics. More Israelis want to make peace and to share both burdens and prosperity more equitably.
On the issue of Women of the Wall, Yair Lapid promised to do all in his power “to make it feasible to women, Conservative or Reform, to pray at the Western Wall, wearing their prayer shawls.”
Winds of change are filling our sails. There is a future!
One question in the coming days is whether Bibi will take the bold step to blow the whistle on ultra-orthodox coercion and embrace the new wave in his coalition.
Another aching question is when our Arab neighbors will settle their strife and enmity and opt for peaceful, productive society so that we can all move forward together.