Category Archives: National elections

Election season underway

Tonight, 18 October, the Green Movement held its first activist meeting in Tel Aviv.  Check in at this site, join the Green Movement facebook site, or check in at the main party site to see how you can help.  More soon.

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Post-election final ramblings…

n30053107768_79291Dear Green Movement-Meimad (התנועה הירוקה-מימד) friends, supporters, colleagues and interested readers.

The results have been counted.  The Israeli electorate has decided.  The Green Movement-Meimad will not be in the coming Knesset.  We took approximately 1% of the national vote – apparently the largest party that did not pass the minimum threshold into the Knesset.  The breakdown of the results by community can be found [in Hebrew] here, and more general results can be found [in English] here.

Election results from Ha'aretz.com

Election results from Ha'aretz.com

Some final post-election words of thanks and analysis from this volunteer blogmaster:

When I returned to Israel a year and a half ago after a period of study in the United States, I found a country dominated by two disturbing trends.  One was the increased friction between Israeli Jews and Arabs and the increase in hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians, and the continuing rise in consumerism and egoism (e.g. worrying exclusively about one’s own economic wellbeing) at the expense of a strong community identity and social welfare.  To “soften my landing” in Israel I sought out all of those individuals who were still committed to a progressive vision of a Jewish and democratic state, to tolerance and pluralism, to a state that took responsibility for the education, environment, health care and social services of its citizens.  I found that group of individuals – many came together in the Green Movement-Meimad.

To those individuals I want to say that it has been an honor and privilage to work with all of you.  The fire of optimism, idealism and activism was impressive and contagious.  In has been a pleasure to learn from the scholars and professionals who wrote the party’s vision and detailed platforms, as it was to canvass the streets to “spread the word” of the party.  It was inspiring to read up on the numerous bloggers who were thinking so carefully about their decisions, and then who decided to go with the Green Movement-Meimad.

Finally, it was refreshing to have so much faith in such a wonderful group of candidates.  I have no regrets due to the election results.  The combination of Judaism, ecology and social-democracy brought together in this party can and may yet form the basis for a new progressive vision in Israel.  And after the dismal performance of Meretz and Labor in this election, and the rise of both an ideologically vacuous center (Kadima) and a thuggish right (Israeli Beitenu), an alternative vision is needed now more than ever.

The Green Movement-Meimad offered a new vision to the Israeli public.  That vision captured the imagination of thousands of activists and tens of thousands of voters.  Party leaders and activists will surely be considering why we did not capture more votes in the coming weeks and months.

Some considerations will include:

1) Too little, too late? The Green Movement was established in the summer of 2008 and became a party only two months before the election.  Did this give us proper time to convey our message to the public?  We also operated on a tiny budget, so could not flood the public with our election propaganda.

2) Progressive politics are passé. Has a progressive Zionist vision for Israel become anachronistic?  Is the Israeli public interested in setting aside sectarian, religious, and political differences in the interest of building a better nation?  The stunning decline of the left (Meretz and Labor – together representing only 15-17 seats in the coming Knesset) may signal a failure to win the war of ideas among the Israeli public.  If so, the Green Movement-Meimad wouldn’t have stood a chance (This is also why I don’t accept the “splitting the vote” argument – our votes would have likely been split between a number of parties.  Our presence only enriched the political map – it didn’t “weaken the left”).

3) Politics of fear and hate. Are our seemingly intractable Israeli-Arab, Israeli-Palestinian and/or Israeli Jewish-Arab conflicts going to continue to drive people to the right – increasingly willing to sacrifice basic freedoms and equality in the face of increasingly violent and uncompromising enemies?  If so, the center (between Jewish and Arab extremism) will continue to decay.  The Green Movement-Meimad stood for unity, equality, coexistence, and pluralism.  Can these ideas flourish is an environment of extremism and conflict, where the two extremes seem to feed each other’s strength?

4) Capitalism steams on. Will the current economic crises strengthen or weaken the Israeli social welfare state, and which direction will Israel continue to take – that of the European social welfare state or the US model of free market/economic oligarchy?  Is the electorate against a social welfare state?  Considering that Shas, Yahadut HaTorah and Chadash all did reasonably well and all have strong social policies (though for very different reasons) suggests that the social welfare state is not dead and that Israelis still care about public transportation, health care, education, and social services.

5) Sustaina – who? Can we successful articulate to the Israeli public our vision of a socially/economically/environmentally sustainable Israel?  The fact that most voters could not differentiate between us and the Green Party means they couldn’t differentiate between a party with a broad social-environmental platform (us) and a party with a narrow, technocratic (barely) understanding of environmental issues .  Certainly more work to be done here.  But equally certain, wherever we managed to get the word out – through personal contact, home meetings and participation in panel discussions and lectures – we did quite well bringing in new voters.

These questions – and others – will need to be answered in order to understand if and how the Green Movement-Meimad can continue to function, improve civil society, educate, and – hopefully – run for the next elections.

With that, this blog will be going on a hiatus as this blogmaster has to return to his regular life and his paying job.  I will be approving comments for those who want to continue the conversation.  If there are Green Movement-Meimad supporters who are interested in running this blog in the meantime, please write me at daniel.orenstein – at – gmail.com.

Good luck and thank you for the opportunity to get this excited about politics.  We’ll be back.

Daniel.

Yes, we can! The Green Movement-Meimad will pass the minimum threshold with your vote (ה), and those of some celebrity friends (see below)

Who is voting for the Green Movement – Meimad (תנועה הירוקה-מימד)?

Vote "ה" for התנועה הירוקה-מימד

Vote "ה" for התנועה הירוקה-מימד

According to a poll by “Ma’agar Mokhot”: 7% of Israelis will vote for the Green Movement-Meimad if they are confident the party will pass the minimum threshold.  This represents 8-9 seats in Knesset!  So don’t hesitate.  This will put Rabbi Michael Melchior, Eran Ben Yemini, Professor Alon Tal, Yonina Fallenberg, Iris Hahn, Dr. Hussein Tarabieh, Dr. Ariel Pikar and Yael Cohen-Paran (and maybe Leah Halperin)  into the next Knesset.

In mock elections at high schools across Israel, students found hope and vision in the Green Movement-Meimad:  7.1% from Ort High School in Holon; 5% from West Jezreel Valley High School; 21% (!) from Tschernokovski High School in Netanya; 4.4% from Mevo’ot Iron High School; 6% in Ostrovski High School in Raanana.

In mock elections at universities across Israel, students found a platform they can believe in with the Green Movement-Meimad: 12% and 16% (in two surveys) at Hebrew University; 4.2% at Ben Gurion University (5 mandates); 3.4% at Tel Aviv University; 2 mandates at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzlia.

An increasing number of public figures (aside from our extensive list of academic endorsements [in Hebrew] here) are expressing their support for the Green Movement-Meimad, including:

Kobi Oz (singer, author, composer), who writes his endorsement here (in Hebrew). My loose translation:  “I’m voting for the Green Movement-Meimad so there will be someone to protect this land and fight those who are destroying it.  Ya’ala – I’ll give them my vote and then they’ll pass the minimum threshold and go right to the center of activity – exactly where they belong”

Ehud Banai (singer and composer) – “I vote for the kind of values the Green Movement-Meimad represents.  It’s crucial that they are in the next Knesset.”

Riki Blich (actress and comedian) – “I know these people and I know they will represent public interests loyally and steadfastly in Knesset”

Natan Zach (Poet, Israel Prize Laureate) – according to this Friday’s Yediot Ahronot, disillusioned with all the political parties, but choosing between Green Movement-Meimad and an uninspiring Meretz.

Shai Avivi (Actor, Comedian, original member of HaChamisha HaKamrit) – “I know the people in the party – they are professionals, fighters (in the political sense), and serious.

Rino Tzror (Journalist) – “Only the Green Movement-Meimad is worthy of attention.”

Avri Gilad (Radio and TV host) – announced today on his popular radio program that he is voting Green Movement-Meimad.

Jackie Levy (Radio and TV host, and journalist) – “Vote for the Green Movement-Meimad as the only party that represents the connection between Judaism, society and ecology.  This is not a trend, but the result of a crucial process within Israel society.”

Tzur Shizaf (Journalist, author and nature guide) – “If someone needs to keep [Avigdor] Leiberman in check, the Green Movement/Meimad will be there; If someone needs to stop the runaway privatization of everything in our country, the Green Movement/Meimad will be there; If someone has to battle in favor of education, the Green Movement/Meimad will be there.”

Shlomo Bar (Musician, composer) – “The Green Movement-Meimad gives me hope for a society without sectoralism, without people with no content, without politicians.  We have enough generals who have complicated our lives here.  We need statesmen like Rabbi Melchior and not more wily politicians.

Haaretz journalist Ari Shavit calls the Green Movement-Meimad “the party to watch” during the elections.  His colleague at Haaretz, journalist Shachar Ilan writes – “Whoever votes for for the Green Movement-Meimad will be getting the best Knesset member for their vote.  Rabbi Michael Melchior was one of the best parliamentarians in the outgoing Knesset.”

Jerusalem deputy mayor Naomi Tzur and Jerusalem city council member Rachel Azaria took out a quarter page ad in Friday’s newspaper encouraging Israelis to vote Green Movement-Meimad.

On line bloggers are enthusiastically endorsing the Green Movement-Meimad.  According to a poll of influencial Hebrew blogs, 37% endorsed the Green Movement-Meimad.  Similarly, an increasing number of English language blogs in Israel and among Jews abroad are endorsing the party:

Haim Watzman at Southjerusalem.com.

Yannai Kranzler at the Jewish Climate Initiative.

Anna at Daily Dose of Anna.

Rebecca at The Big Felafel.

Professor Gil Troy at Jerusalem Post Blogs.

David at Israel21C Blogs and Brian Blum at Israel21C Blogs.

Josh Weinberg at the Houmous Fool.

RickyB at The Church of Here and Now (Salon.com blogs)

Benji Lovitt at What War Zone?

And don’t forget the more than 30 party supporters who sent in their reasons for supporting the Green Movement-Meimad (see previous post below).  And see the reputable Green Prophet blog for their comprehensive review of all of the parties’ environmental platforms here.  And finally, for Hebrew readers, read an interview with Green Movement-Meimad candidate  Samuel Chayen in last Friday’s Makor Rishon here (downloads a PDF of the interview).

This Tuesday vote for education, environment, social democracy.  Vote ‘for’ rather than ‘against’.  Vote for what Israel could be!

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100 supporters offer 100 reasons to vote “ה” – Green Movement-Meimad

Vote "ה" for התנועה הירוקה-מימד

Vote "ה" for התנועה הירוקה-מימד

For our readers – decided and undecided.  Vote on 10 February and make an informed decision.  The next government will set Israel’s agenda for the near and distant future. If you are decided, feel free to join the list with a comment!

Marc, 60, Informal educator, Central Galilee

As we’ve just seen in another election elsewhere, maybe there needs to be some place for vision, for saying out loud: “This is what we really want – not the least of all evils, not what we can get under the circumstances – but what we really believe in.” When you keep settling for mediocrity, you get mediocrity. If we want to raise the level of discourse, we have to look up.

Marie, 55, Marketing Communications Manager, Karmiel

Because politicians who score high on environmental issues also tend to push for better availability of health care, education, and programs to develop renewable energy that will allow us to create new, high quality jobs.

Orit, 56, Computer programmer, Haifa

Green Movement-Meimad talks about issues that concern each one of us, the future of this country and our future here. They don’t use the security cloud to hide the real problems, like providing citizens with a clean and healthy environment: air, water, earth, society, politics.

Bob, 50, Marketing Professor, Mevasseret Zion

Education, Transportation, Social Justice and the Environment in Israel are all very important to me and the Green Movement/Meimad are most focused on these issues.

n30053107768_79291Ayelet, 35, Social worker, Haifa

As a mother, living and raising children in Haifa, in Neve Sha’anan with its polluted air from the industry in Haifa bay, my responsibility is for the welfare of my children. I will vote to make sure my children breathe clean, healthy air.  I have no faith in the old parties who have promised for years and have not delivered, and I don’t believe that local politicians in Haifa will do anything about it.  My vote for the Green Movement-Meimad will bring about the real changes – it is a vote for everyone’s health and for the future generations.

Ruth, 58, translator/interpreter, Jerusalem

Vote “heh – ה” for a party that supports a  politics of social harmony, in a Jewish and green framework.

Amit, 31, NGO operations coordinator, Haifa

For the first time in my personal history – I feel hope for my and my children’s future.

Danny, 36, Osteopath, Jerusalem

HaTnuah Hayeruka-Meimad deal with the issues I face at every moment – the air that I breathe, the environment I live in, the welfare of the people I meet and the education of the future generation – and who better than Rav Melchior to be responsible for this?

Shai, 33, Transportation Engineer, Haifa

Because it’s the best pick around, I mean, HEY, what’s the question?

Shirley, 33, Graduate student, Tel Aviv

If you are aware of the environment around you, then you know that only the Green Movement – Meimad understands what needs to be done.

Simon, 53, Activist and Permaculturist, Haifa.

The mission statements of both the Green Movement and Meimad say it all. Why would I vote for anyone else?

Party chairman Rabbi Michael Melchior

Party chairman Rabbi Michael Melchior

Daniel, 40, Environmental policy researcher, Haifa

I want Israel to be a good place for my family and community – a country that has good education, health care and environment.  Rabbi Melchior, Eran Ben Yemini, Alon Tal and their list have proven experience in making Israel a good place to live.

Leiba Chaya, 38, Tour guide and environmental educator, Moshav Aderet

Because the leaders of the party are smart, talented, experienced, able to perceive the breadth and complexity of our country’s problems, and able to envision practical yet comprehensive solutions. And because they believe in Jewish culture/identity in the Jewish homeland without resorting to radical, dangerous ideologies. And because they will work to enable Israeli citizens to participate in the creation of their own future instead of imposing one from on high.

Shai, 33, Port crane operator, Haifa

As a port worker who’s been working for years under the threat of privatization, I’m glad to find a party who stand strongly on the side of workers, of people.

Kalia, 32, Post doctoral researcher (Biochemistry), Haifa

I will vote for Hatnua Hayeruka-Meimad becaue my priorities lie in education, social-democracy and environment; I think these are the most important things for Israel in order to develop and prosper.

Eilon, 42, Lecturer in Israel Studies, Jerusalem

It is the only party that has a deep and clear integration of Judaism, social-democratic priorities and ecological responsibility.  Until today, we are used to seeing Judaism as something that divides and separates the political map.  The Green Movement-Meimad turns Judaism into a unifying element, a foundation on which to build a society with social and ecological responsibility.  A party like this in Knesset will support the growing movement of Judaism and social justice, will represent the movement in Knesset, and will eventually replace the ideological vacuum represented by the larger parties.

Uri, 47, Senior lecturer (Ecology), Givat Ada

This party presents the ultimate team. They are honest, hard workers, professionals, and have the best credit in the country for protecting the environment.

Sigalit, 42, Informal educator, Galilee

I will vote for Meimad-Hayeruka because its candidates are hard-working, honest, idealistic people, with impressive records – each and every one!

Haim, writer, Jerusalem

Far from being a one-issue party, the Green Movement-Meimad offers a comprehensive program that addresses international affairs, economics, social services, and education as well as the environment. In the tradition of the Green movements of Europe, the environmental crisis serves as a paradigm for how to address the entire range of issues facing the country
Yonina, pensioner/academic, Haifa

So that on Shabbat, holidays, and weekends we will have beaches to walk on and waters to swim in, trails to hike, parks to visit, and natural flora and fauna to wonder at RATHER THAN spend our time in shopping malls, canyonim, and walking the pavement.

Nir, 31, Lawyer and Ph.D. student, Tel Aviv

Green Movement-Meimad Band

Green Movement-Meimad Band

The people who comprise our movement have proven their capacity to lead environmental initiatives and campaigns. I have been taught by prof. Alon Tal, 10 years ago as a young(er) student, and his enthusiasm and impact on my life is still apparent. I believe together with Eran Ben-Yemini and Rabbi Malchior, Iris Hann and everyone else, they will be able to lead a new green coalition, together with other MK’s.

Rina, 27, Graphic artist, Tel Aviv.

To provide a fresh, new approach to the government – putting people before politics.

Jonathan, 58, English teacher, Haifa.

We must do something, to start making the changes necessary for the survival of our planet.  So called “environmental awareness” of the major parties is a smoke screen.

Leah, Information technology expert, Ra’anana

Rabin’s murder caused me to understand how deep is the gap between different groups if the Jewish nation in all and in Israel particularly. I understood that changes must be done to avoid the destruction of Israel and the Jewish nation all over theworld.  I believe in all the Hatnua Hayeruka – Meimad beliefs’, and hope to continue and contribute to the society in all it’s needs.

Paul, Musician and Environmental Artist

I shall vote Green as I always do, but this time for this list.  I know Alon Tal’s work to be from the heart.  I would like some human to represent all the non-human life forms as well, I hope this is a start.  I do not see eye to eye with all the agenda of the party, however as I believe in the saying, “No matter who I vote for, the wrong party always gets in,” I see this is the best I am going to get for now.

Jack

A vote for Meimad- HaYeruka is a vote for clean politics, a better future and productive MKs who will care less about bashing each other and more about building a better future for all!

Zvi, 33, Chief Scientist in Start-Up Company, Haifa

In the past decades, the so called “left-wing” parties in Israel were so busy talking about peace and about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that, they didn’t notice (or didn’t care) that Israel had become an ultra-capitalist country. The Social-Democratic moderate-left option was left as an orphan and unrepresented. I believe the formation of The Green Movement-Meimad is a great opportunity to create a new political party, similar to the European Green parties, which will focus both on environmental issues as well as on social issues.

On the campaign trail

On the campaign trail

Randy, 49, Couple & Family Therapist, Raanana
The main reason to vote “Heh” is because the leaders of this party have proven themselves as people with principles who want to make Israel a more enlightened society. Theirs is an essential voice in the Knesset and media, of mutual respect in the way we relate to one another, respect for various forms of Jewish practice and respect for the land, seas and all forms of life that we’re responsible for.

Dor, 34, Marine biologist and lecture, Kibbutz Ein Shemer

One day, say, in the year 2059, my grandchildren will wake up one lovely morning in their clean green democratic, free and advanced homeland of milk, honey and social justice, they may want to pay a visit to their 84 year old grand dad, so he can once again tell the tale of how bleak everything looked and how once no one cared, and then a group of brave men and women decided to change the system from within. May we all get the future we deserve.

Aviv, 21, student, Haifa

I support the Green Movement-Meimad because it stands for “clean” politics – in more ways than one!

Deborah, Jerusalem
In a 1999 pre-election survey, I was asked what was the most pressing question facing Israel. My stunned survey conductor told me no one else had answered “water.” Ten years later, water is still our most pressing question (as continuous government neglect and mismanagement have kept it so). This time, however, there is a voter solution to this question: I believe the Green Movement/Meimad has the combined knowledge and “do-it-ness” to change our horrible reality. That is why this party has my vote.

Sarit,27, student, Ramat Gan

Because we need sustainable and accessible public transportation, to decrease air pollution, the socio-economic gap & the waste of public open space.

David. Theater director. Pardes Hana.

Voting Hay for TYM ensures that 4-5 leading social-environmental activists, proffessionals and legislators will be in the Knesset working with us, the citizens, to create a safe, healthy, just and educated Israeli society.

Arieh, 47, journalist and olive farmer

Because I believe we need to save our open spaces and twist the arms of the government to make greener energy.

Pre-election announcements!

Vote "ה" for התנועה הירוקה-מימד

Vote "ה" for התנועה הירוקה-מימד

1) Live in Beer Sheva/Omer/Lehavim/Meitar or the surrounding area and still want your chance to meet Green Movement-Meimad candidates?  Come to a parlour meeting at the home of Dr. Clive and Hani Lipchin in Meitar on Saturday Night (Motzei Shabbat, 7/2/09) at 19:00.  Speakers will be Professor Alon Tal and Dr. Sarit Oked.  For information, contact Clive via email:  Clivearava – at – gmail.com.

2) Want to contribute to the last second-to-last pre-election blog entry at greenerisrael.wordpress.com?  “100 supporters suggest 100 reasons to vote Green Movement-Meimad.” Please send me in a comment or email (Daniel.orenstein – at – gmail.com):

Your first name, your age, your place of residence, your occupation, and one reason why you think everyone should vote Green Movement-Meimad. (Put the reason most important to you.)

For example:

Daniel, 40, Haifa, Environmental policy researcher and teacher.  “Because our children deserve an excellent education and Rabbi Melchior has already proven that he can help make our educational system better.”  (This one is 100% true!  See the party Hebrew site under חינוך)

3) More on education, see Marie Orian’s analysis of Israel’s educational system as “popularity contest:”

These days, school administrators have become marketers; consumed with dialing for dollars and romancing donors. And the donors want to get behind feel-good projects they can identify with. Wealthier communities, especially those with connections in the USA, are acquiring the support they need for pet school projects. It’s not that these projects aren’t worthy, they are, but what becomes of other deserving groups lacking the connections to stir up donor sentiments?

The challenge is to create an equal educational opportunity for Israel’s youth across the board, especially raising the standard in disenfranchised communities; including new immigrants, Mizrachim, Religious Jews, Women, Arabs and Druze. This must be an ongoing effort, and not simply dependant on sporadic fits and starts of donor funds for the most ‘popularized’ projects.

More of her article is here.

More eloquent Green-Meimad support from all corners of the blogosphere

More bloggers have posted their intention to vote for the Green Movement-Meimad in the elections next week.

The off-beat endorsement of the week comes from former Green-Leaf supporter, writer/editor RickyB.  In his post – a quick and ecclectic tour of today’s political scene – the author reveals his pick for the Knesset towards the end of his entry:

In the… green corner, we have the Green Movement-Meimad, which offers the top two environmental activists in the country in addition to the greenest MK in the last decade. Guess which one I’m voting for? The Meimad part comes from MK Rabbi Michael Malchior – an orthodox rabbi committed to separation of state and religion who is also head of the environmental lobby (what y’all call a caucus) in Knesset and is a bona fide green, socially progressive legislator. I dig that kind of synergy. I just hope enough of my brethren do as well.

Having attended the AACI/Jerusalem Post sponsored election panel in Jerusalem, Anna – a self-described Halachically-inclined feminist writes about her realization that the Green Movement-Meimad is for her:

What I learned about myself tonight is that I would much rather vote for a party that has lofty goals that understands a basic principle of morality and reality than crazy people who at best work only under an assumption of fear and hatred and at worst under the worst form of nationalism that claims to have Israel’s best interests at heart but in reality is well, totally blind to reality and morality…

… It was upsetting to me to hear politicians call for the subjugation of Arabs and the end to the idea of a two-state solution, in no equivocal terms…

… And so I’ll be voting for HaTnuah HaYeruka-Meimad on election day, the only party that seems to hold the same values as I do–education and electoral reform, the environment, and a reasoned and realistic approach towards a two-state solution. It is the only party I can vote for in good conscience.

Journalist, writer and guide Tsur Shizaf throws his support behind the party on his [Hebrew] blog here.  I won’t attempt to translate his prose and biblical references, but I’ll paraphrase – ‘If peace breaks out, the Green Movement/Meimad will be in favor; if someone needs to keep [Avigdor] Leiberman in check, the Green Movement/Meimad will be there; If someone needs to stop the runaway privatization of everything in our country, the Green Movement/Meimad will be there; If someone has to battle in favor of education, the Green Movement/Meimad will be there.

Indeed.

Moving on up – the Green Movement-Meimad passing the threshold to the next Knesset!

Every vote counts!

Every vote counts! (Montage by Green Movement member Maya Shalit and her cat.)

Increasingly promising signs that the Green Movement-Meimad will pass the threshold and then some in the elections.  Mock elections held at Tel Aviv and Hebrew University had the Green Movement-Meimad easily passing the threshold.  (The threshold is the minimum amount of votes needed to assure a seat in the next parliament.)  At Hebrew University, more than 1000 students voted and the Green Movement-Meimad took third place, gaining 16 mandates.  At Tel Aviv University, with more than 2500 students voting, we took 4 mandates.  But the best mock election results come in from Tchernokovski High School in Netanya, whose students – after hearing representatives of each of the parties speak – gave 21% of the vote to the Green Movement-Meimad.  This was, according to press coverage, the big surprise of the school election.  Green Movement-Meimad activists continue campaigning throughout the country to make sure this becomes the big surprise of the national election!