Kadima's Children

Most of the kids are voting for Kadima. Generation X of Israel's students, the next big thing in politics, is toeing the line.

What a screwed-up generation, as the song by Aviv Geffen has it. Most of the kids are voting for Kadima. Generation X of Israel's students, the next big thing in politics, is toeing the line. Toeing the line? It is behaving exactly as its parents did. A series of mock elections that took place recently in Israel's high schools revealed a very depressing picture: no one is more conformist than Israel's children. The indifferent parents are planning on voting Kadima, and their sons and daughters are right behind them.

The "center" party - which is headed who knows where, led by a veteran politician who rose to greatness by dint of circumstance and which derives most of its strength from a leader in a coma - is raking in more and more Knesset seats in the polls. And now the younger and naughtier version has arrived. ORT Binyamina, ORT Kiryat Motzkin, they all said yes to Kadima. Last week a few more flagship high schools joined: Blich in Ramat Gan, Aviv in Ra'anana and the Hebrew University High School in Jerusalem. Only WIZO High School in Haifa (mostly Meretz) and Boyer High School in Jerusalem (mostly for Uzi Dayan's party, Tafnit) and the Omer Comprehensive High School (mostly National Union and the National Religious Party) provided a refreshing change from the united front.

For years it was the custom to complain, and rightly so, about the indifference of young people in Israel. University students protest only when it involves their tuition, high school students vote only for "A Star is Born." In France, thousands take to the streets to protest the murder of a Jew, Ilan Halimi; in Israel, no one thought to protest when a Jew murdered four Arabs in Shfaram.

With us, nothing can get adults to take to the streets any more, neither the cruelty of the occupation nor the injustices of poverty. Israeli society has been in a deep coma for about five years now, with possible irreversible brain damage. But if the apathy of the adults can somehow be explained as the result of Palestinian terror and the entrenchment of the mendacious claim that there is no one to talk to - how can we explain the indifference of young people and their adherence to a central path that is so very politically correct, without turning right or left?

Now, with the students evincing a flash of involvement in the mock elections, a heartfelt cry goes out to them to go back to voting for "A Star is Born." Better to have young people whose narrow world is limited to the foolish programs on television than such a conformist generation. Would it be too much to expect, at least from young people, to show an iota of rebelliousness, of alternative thinking, of subversion?

The Kadima storm has swept up everything in its path. The party that dealt the final blow to any ideological pretense is about to take over the government, with the help of the votes of young people and soldiers, who at one time would still give a seat or two to small, extreme parties.

How ironic that a country that was established by revolutionary young people who were the age of today's high school students when they left their parents' home for a distant, unknown land, now raises generations of young people who shrink from revolution as if it were the plague. In such an infuriating reality, with huge social gaps and a brutal military occupation, the main public discourse that gets youngsters excited seems to be Ninette's new love.

Only on the fringes of the camp, in the dark backyard of the country, is the reality different. There, on the stolen hills on which the settlements were established, a new and rebellious generation has risen up - the "hilltop youth," whose views are racist and actions violent. But at least it is challenging something, and is ready to pay a personal price for an idea, maddening as it is. There, at least, they will not be voting Kadima.

There is also a tiny cluster of young people on the left, such as the draft refusers, the Anarchists Against the Fence, and protesters like 17-year-old Matan Cohen, whose participation in demonstrations against the fence last month cost him his eye.

All the rest, the best of our youth, are saying yes to the old fogies. Soon they too will study law, computers, business administration. They will buy silver Jeeps, live in little boxes made of ticky tacky, as that great Pete Seeger song goes, and will vote, of course, for Kadima.