Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Israeli elections

First, welcome to new reader "Elana from Bawlmer!" Welcome to the blog, Elana! Thanks for your comment! Yes, we are already veterans of the diseased sticks. I hear that after twelve sticks, your thirteenth is free! [Burst of raucous laughter.] [Like anything here would be "free."]

Today I am home with the little boy, as well as the big boy (you can decide for yourself who gets which designation.) Yaakov got kicked out of gan yesterday - I am beginning to think he is allergic to gan. When I picked him up, he was bawling, in pain, had broken out in some sort of rash; after coming home, taking a little nap, and spending some quality time with Nemo (Buzz begged for a day off), he was back to his old self. But, the unwritten rule of gan and daycare is: He who is kicked out on Tuesday shall not return on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Donny is home retching and coughing and shivering. The truth is I could leave them both home together and go to ulpan (especially since the test is tomorrow); Yaakov, at least, could easily fend for himself all day. (Yogurt? Check. Video? Check. Blue Blanket? Check check.) But I guess it would be unfair of me to make Yaakov take care of Donny all day as well. So here I am. I thought Ariella would throw a fit when she found out that everyone was going to be home today except her, but at the horrid sounds coming from her father, she realized she would be best served by getting as far the heck away from this place as possible.

I thought I would use my morning at home to do some cooking, but lo! And behold! We have no gas! There is a hastily scrawled note in the - you guessed it! - elevator that says there was some sort of gas leak in the building last night, and the gas has been turned off for everyone until they fix the problem. There is no indication whatsoever of when that blessed moment might be. A few hours? A few days? A year? I am considering taking my pen and going into the elevator and giving the va'ad a piece of my mind.... Anyway, we have the use of our oven, but no stovetop. I am seriously considering running out and buying a microwave this morning. I am also fairly certain that the hot water is connected to the gas, meaning we have no hot water either, so no one can shower or bathe. Ahhh.... is this paradise? Or something close to it?

As you may have heard, Israeli elections are coming up (Feb 10). Now you guys in America are all jazzed about your historic election, yes we can, blah blah blah. Here in Israel, we have the opportunity to vote for someone who was already prime minister! So there! We love recycling our country's leaders. Apparently, there is a shortage of perfect prime ministers in the world; 'twould be a pity to waste them. But seriously. Let me give you a brief, aliyahbyaccident summary of the Israeli election process:

Election day is a day off -a national holiday, if you will, but, as Ariella will point out, a holiday during which you're allowed to drive. People vote for one of the approximately 5 gazillion parties, which cater to every whim and desire of the Israeli people. ("Aruchat Boker: Working to make breakfast the most important meal of YOUR day." "Shinayim: Putting the needs of our dentists first.") Every party wants to get lots of "mandates" which in English means "seats." There are 120 seats in all, so plenty for everyone! After election day, we see that no one party won the majority of seats. Oh no! What to do now? So the party with the most seats - the Big Cheese, or Gevinah Gedolah - scrambles around, trying to form a "coalition" which in English means "alliance," and if they are successful, they get their guy (or gal) as prime minister. So the Big Cheese has to make deals with all the parties to get them to join their coalition, and then hopefully, when the dust settles, they have managed to hobble together some sort of government, by hook or by crook. ("Yes, we promise to open up every session of Knesset by eating a big bowl of branflakes!") Then, voila, our new leadership! We're probably going to vote for the guys that aren't planning to hand over Israel to the Palestinians, because we don't want to wake up on February 11th to a knock on our apartment door, and upon opening it, be greeted by Mohammed Ahmed Ajibi with his family and suitcases, ready to move in.

Israelis are very fair about campaigning. For example, yesterday on the radio there was an entire radio segment devoted to "election ads." Apparently there is a set time for the parties to do their thing on the radio, and according to my ulpan teacher, the bigger parties get more time, the smaller parties less time. (I think we should do that with billboards, too - the biggest party would get a huge billboard at the entrance to the city, and the smallest one would get a picture on some guy's refrigerator.) Anyway, I think there are three times a day for "election ads." I was most impressed with the Meretz ad and the Bayit HaYehudi ad, because they had catchy songs. Not just jingles. Entire songs, with stanzas and choruses and everything. So entirely based on ad campaign, I'm definitely going for either Meretz or Bayit. (Although I'm pretty sure that's kind of like saying, "Yeah, I'm undecided -either I'm going to vote for Donald Rumsfeld or Al Franken.") Anyway, I think it's very nice that they save the Israeli public from endless hours of radio and TV ads and condense it for us into neat half-hour segments.

Our gas and hot water have returned. Donny probably has the flu. Yaakov, please God, will be returning to gan tomorrow.

And don't forget to vote!


momz42854 said...

Is my daughter clever or what? this should be required reading for social studies or whatever they call it in Israel. and I get so many NPs for recognizing the slightly altered phrase from Princess Bride - right?

Yael said...

refuah shelama, Donny.

I'm looking forward to hearing you blog about voting--putting little pieces of paper in an envelope.

Risa said...

Gila, Thanks so much for the cliff notes version of the Israeli Parliamentary system. Also, newsflash, some people in this country are calling the new American administration "Clinton's third term." Just look at his cabinet appointments, not to mention Madame Secretary. (Honestly, who do you think ran the Whitehouse in the '90s? Change, my foot!)I guess Israel is not the only one to re-use politicians. Refuah Sheleyma to Donny.

Anonymous said...

OMG...your parents were not lying. You are funny!!!! You should write a book. Ahava

SaraK said...

I know this is an old post, but I am just catching up on your blog (what else to do during the 9 days?). I was seriously laughing out loud.