Jerusalem, So Low

Yes, I have a sister, to refer to an old joke I won't tell here. She is in charge of the Behavior Department in our family, and as part of her job she scolds me occasionally, for her own good reasons. Whereas I am in charge of political advice.

My sister, a retired teacher, lives in Jerusalem, and this week she phoned me: I've been left without a candidate, she said; and in her typical cultured language she added: I am being forced to choose between a plague and a contamination even if what's contaminated is being presented as strictly kosher. I don't want a single one of these three. Look whom they've left us with, she complained bitterly.

When she said "they," I understood exactly who she meant. Everyone understands. She was referring to the big parties: Likud, Kadima, Labor, who at every festive opportunity extol Jerusalem, and at the first chance ditch it: They don't have a single candidate in their inventory who is worthy of it, who is available for the job. They swear allegiance to the eternal city, until eternity their right hand will not be forgotten and their tongue will not cleave to their palate. They will go on jabbering about Jerusalem as "the heart of the Jewish people," while this selfsame heart, terrified, has been turned over to the care of apprentices and charlatans.

If Heavenly Jerusalem is so low, then let Arcadi Gaydamak be elected already, and the city will look like him, without masks and with a wig; let him stand up and become its leader.

The Labor Party, as usual, outdoes everybody when it comes to betrayal. It joined up with Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu, and together they are running a candidate whose only advantage is that he's bareheaded, i.e., secular. This week Nir Barkat decided to announce his support for building a Jewish neighborhood next to Anata, in the heart of a Palestinian population. Jerusalem is burning, and the candidate is determined to add twigs to the bonfire. Labor has not yet announced it is divorcing him, but my sister wants a divorce, immediately.

So what do we do now, she asks. Hadassah, I replied, there are dilemmas in life that cannot be solved, that should not be solved, and you are not to blame. It's hard for you. For 40 years you explained to your students that voting is a civic duty. But this time you are permitted to stay home, as far as I'm concerned, and it's all right. The leading parties have given you the finger, and that is the same finger that you have a right to point at them. There are circumstances in which it is preferable to abstain rather than to participate, and when abstaining is actually more responsible and more ethical.

When the Jerusalem of Meir Porush or Gaydamak or Barkat burns, yours will not have been the hand that poured on the oil. Let them do as they wish, let them go crazy like a bull in city of china, but not in your name. Deeds that should not be done are 10 times more offensive when they are done in our name.

If you still insist on making the effort to go to the polls, then I recommend voting for Dan Biron, a genuine Jerusalemite, and you won't vomit out of nausea when you return home. At least there will be someone there, on the city council, to shout "Fire!"

And who knows, perhaps they will get your hint after all: Soon, in the Knesset elections, we will once again weigh whether to participate or to abstain, according to the differences between the parties. Will we detect the small difference, for a change?