Opinion |

Let Israeli Political Parties Film in Polling Stations

Nehemia Shtrasler
Nehemia Shtrasler
A polling station in Kafr Qasem, April 9, 2019.
A polling station in Kafr Qasem, April 9, 2019.Credit: \ Moti Milrod
Nehemia Shtrasler
Nehemia Shtrasler

Election transparency. The Central Elections Committee’s barring of party representatives from filming in polling stations is a problem. And its proposed inspectors aren’t a good substitute.

After all, everyone knows there’s massive fraud at the polls, especially in ultra-Orthodox and Arab precincts. There’s even cooperation between the ultra-Orthodox and Arab parties, which swapped polling booth representatives to make the fraud easier. The system is simple: Party representatives put envelopes into the ballot boxes on behalf of the people who don’t bother showing up to vote at all.

>> Read more: Last Israeli election was riddled with irregularities and suspected voting fraud, Haaretz investigation revealsTo scare them away in droves | Editorial

In the last election, in April, it was harder to commit fraud, thanks to the cameras brought in by Likud party members. And then, when a party representative asked someone he knew to come and vote, he got the cold shoulder: “All these years you’ve been voting in my stead. What happened today? Go away, I’m at the park.”

Consequently, it shouldn’t just be Likud. Yisrael Beiteinu, too, should bring cameras into ultra-Orthodox polling stations. And other parties should do the same. This would contribute to the integrity of the election. It’s nothing more than an expansion of the principle of mutual supervision.

Yaffa Ben David. Whoever decided that Election Day would be on September 17 knew this was an open invitation for a teachers’ strike on September 1. Elementary school teachers have grievances related to pensions and sick days.

Their pension demands are for the benefit of veteran teachers, who are already at the top of the pay scale. They aren’t oppressed. Moreover, teachers’ salaries have risen over the past decade, so a beginning teacher now earns around 7,500 shekels ($2,100) a month.

Yaffa Ben David, the secretary general of the Teachers Union, knows that politicians will do anything to prevent a strike just before the election. Therefore (if the court doesn’t bar the strike), she’ll wait until the last minute, on Saturday night, and then Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will capitulate to all her demands.

Netanyahu will do anything to obtain a picture of the two of them declaring the strike off. It will be a very expensive picture.

Ayelet Shaked. These days, people evidently no longer believe in setting a personal example. Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett unveiled a plan this week that would solve the whole housing problem by building 113,000 homes for young couples in the northern West Bank. It’s interesting to note that Shaked lives in a villa in Ramat Hahayal and Bennett in a villa in Ra’anana – neither of which is in the West Bank.

MK Bezalel Smotrich is also no fan of setting a personal example. He’s the most hawkish of hawks; he’s in favor of blood and fire and pillars of smoke. But at age 18, he evaded military service. He fled to a city of refuge – a yeshiva in the settlement of Kedumim – and studied law.

Only at age 28, when he was already married with three children, did he agree to enlist, whereupon he served for less than 18 months in a noncombat job at army headquarters. Two of his friends from the Otzma Yehudit party, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bentzi Gopstein, never served in the army at all.

It’s expensive here. Anyone who goes abroad during the summer is filled with frustration at how low the prices are over there compared to in Israel. One reason for this is the Chief Rabbinate, which has blocked parallel imports that would compete with the expensive official imports.

A parallel importer brings in the exact same products, from cornflakes to beer to Coca-Cola, except that they aren’t bought directly from the original manufacturer. Instead, they’re bought from a major supplier that has purchased a large inventory.

Consequently, the rabbinate’s approval ought to be swift and automatic. Instead, it demands numerous documents and approvals, causing months of delay, until the products rot in the port.

Is the rabbinate working for the official importers? One thing is certain. When there are no parallel imports, we pay inflated prices and rightly bemoan the cost of living.

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