St. Election’s Day: Will Israelis Head for the Polls With a Pint of Green Beer?

Vote early and tipsy? Every year, the Irish kick up their heels on March 17 - the day that the Knesset has chosen to hold new elections.

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Saint Patrick's Day just so happens to coincide with Israel's election on March 17, 2015.
Saint Patrick's Day just so happens to coincide with Israel's election on March 17, 2015.Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In the dizzying and rapid-fire turn of events over the past 48 hours, the current Israeli government coalition has dissolved, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu fired two of his coalition partners - Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid. Netanyahu delivered the news in an angry speech to the nation calling his former ministers traitors. A few hours later the other ministers in Lapid’s party, responsible for the country’s education, healthcare, and welfare resigned.

Pedestrians carrying umbrellas and wearing St. Patrick's day hats and scarves move past the Temple Bar public house in Dublin, Ireland, on Sunday, March 17, 2013. Credit: Bloomberg

It’s all been enough to drive confused and frustrated Israeli citizens to drink. Which is why it seems incredibly appropriate that the Knesset chose March 17 as the day that they will go to the polls to choose their new leaders.

While they can only hope that the elections will take them in a better direction than the last round of voting - a bit of liquid courage can’t hurt. The fact that Election Day in Israel is a work holiday means that there will be little reason not to partake in shots of Jameson or some Guinness from the local Irish pub - and, in recent years, Irish-themed bars have been increasingly popular in Israel.

In 2013, the convergence of Thanksgiving and Chanukah made Jews around the world get creative when it came to fusing the two traditions in what became popularly known as Thanksgivukkah.

Merging Israel’s election day and the national celebration of Irishness is more of a challenge, but it can be done. Green and white campaign signs instead of the traditional blue and white? Leprechauns and shamrocks at the polls? Dancing an Irish jig to the voting booth? A celebratory corned beef and cabbage feast after voting?

Malcolm Gafson, the longtime chairman of the Israel-Ireland Friendship League. Gafson was thrilled to hear the news of the election date. Just this past year, his community had a great time when the Jewish party holiday of Purim and St. Patrick’s Day coalesced. Now, for the second year in a row, Irish Israeli expats have more free time to kick up their heels and “wallow in nostalgia” for the green hills they left behind. The Irish embassy holds an official reception on the holiday, but his more informal community of several hundred former Irishmen and women - and their families, cuts loose in a more casual way.

As soon as he learned of the date, he quickly informed his community, and started working on specialized campaign slogans designed at encouraging local Irish expats to effectively combine their traditional celebration with their civic duty.

“How about “Get your shot at democracy quickly so you can start doing your shots quickly,” he mused. “Or even better: “Vote early or you might not be able to find your way to the polls.”



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