On Election Day, What's the Key Issue for Olim

Carly Rosenthal
Lauren Hamburger Adler
Ittay Flescher

As a New Immigrant to Israel, Who Will You Vote for This Election?

As a New Immigrant to Israel, Who Will You Vote for This Election?

Credit: Moti Milrod

Carly Rosenthal

From Melbourne, Australia. New home: Jerusalem. One year in Israel

In the last election I voted Meretz because I believe it’s the party that most aligns with my values of equality and justice, and who strive to achieve that in all spheres of society.

I moved to Israel because growing up attending a Jewish day school and Zionist youth movement instilled in me a deep connection to this land and a feeling that it's a central part of my identity. At the same time, I feel a great responsibility to help shape the country into one that upholds humanistic values.

Most of my time is spent striving for a more just society for all peoples that call this place home, so naturally the number one issue on my mind going into the voting booth is the conflict and the occupation.

Our leaders need to be brave enough to stand up for human rights (which has unfortunately become a dirty word in Israel today) and fight to end the occupation, not only for the sake of the Palestinian people — but to protect the moral fiber of Israel.

We are so far from that vision. Realistically, I’m cynical much is going to change after this election. But, going in to vote, I’ll be thinking about who is deeply committed to fighting for safety and dignity for all people, regardless of gender, race, religion or any other factor.

I haven’t yet decided who to vote for, but it will be between Democratic Union and Joint List, because they seem to be the only two tickets standing up for democracy, equal rights, dignity and humanity for all people in this land.

Our leaders need to be brave enough to stand up for human rights — which has become a dirty word in Israel
Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Lauren Hamburger Adler

From Teaneck, New Jersey. New home: Modi'in. Thirteen months in Israel

The biggest issue I’m voting for is peace and security. As a new olah, our whole life it has been a dream for us to be able to live in Israel. And over the years, you hear of attack after attack. When I think of people living near Gaza or in the north — those people are our brothers and sisters. And they are the ones asking themselves: Will my child will be safe at school? Will I have to go to a bomb shelter in the middle of my workday? Thinking of those things and now living here, the security of our land takes on a whole new meaning for me.

My husband and I visited the amazing Deborah Benson-Ben Aderet, who lives near Gaza. We connected with her through the Facebook group, “What everyone should know about living on the border with Gaza but doesn’t.” We toured her kibbutz and could see Gaza. We talked about the trauma her two kids are living with. She told us that every day they have to decide whether to stay or leave. For people to feel they cannot live in this country — which I believe is a God-given right — was eye opening.

This subject is missing in the discourse here. It’s not something people are talking about.

I think that security and the feeling of being able to feel safe hit home much more when we landed here. It’s not like the U.S. is so safe now, when you think of all the things that have happened there. But I feel such a part of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael and parts of my country are not safe and people are living under terrible conditions.

We visited the Gush Katif museum, which memorializes the former Jewish settlement bloc in Gaza, and when I speak about left vs. right, giving back land and what that looks like, nothing makes me more sick and angry. Look at all the times we have given land back and it never ends right for us. And this plays into my voting for the right.

The party I voted for is no longer a party, it was Naftali Bennet’s party, Hayamin Hehadash. But I am voting for its new version, Yamina, which means “Rightwards,” an alliance of right and far-right parties.

In the April election, we were very new and did not know much about political parties. We went to a parlor meeting where Bennet spoke out, and we were both taken by what he said and his vision for the future of the country. We are not the biggest Bibi fans. But one of the things he said, was: ‘Who will be whispering into his ear?' And that kind of spoke to us.

As for the far-right elements in the party, we did take pause and think about that. In general, Yamina will only be between seven and ten seats. At the end of the day, while we don’t agree with those extremists, and don’t want to necessarily align with them, but there is no perfect party, no perfect vote. We have to vote on the pros and cons and this is where most of my values stand.

It’s not like the U.S. is so safe now. But I feel part of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael and parts of my country are not safe
Credit: Emil Salman

Ittay Flescher

From Melbourne, Australia. New home: Jerusalem. A year and eight months in Israel

The top issue for me in is this election is supporting parties that will enact legislation imposing limitations on Israel's arm's exports to countries that systematically violate human rights. I became aware of this issue through activist Eli Yoseph, who raises the question of how the Jewish state can profit from mass murder, at almost every public event with a cabinet minister – at least, until he is dragged out.

[For example, Eli Joseph made headlines when Benny Gantz was photographed grabbing him by the neck as he protested outside a Kahol Lavan election event.]

According to Amnesty International, Israeli weapons often reach their destination after a series of transactions, thereby skirting international monitoring and the rules laid out by Israel itself. I want the government, Knesset and Defense Ministry to monitor arms exports more tightly and enforce the transparency guidelines adopted by other Western countries that engage in large-scale weapons exports.

In the last Knesset, lawmaker Hilik Bar (Zionist Union) put forward a bill that would have achieved this purpose. Sadly, it never reached the Knesset floor due to strong opposition from Likud and the Habayit Hayehudi party.

I know Michal Rozin (Meretz) has been very active on this issue, and thus I plan to vote for the Democratic Union [a ticket comprising of Meretz, Ehud Barak’s Democratic Yisrael and former Labor lawmaker Stav Shaffir] on September 17, because all of their lawmakers will vote in favor of legislation that limits Israel's military exports to countries who commit mass murder.

Elie Joseph asks how the Jewish state can profit from mass murder

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