Elections to Pose a New Disruption to Israelis' Summer Plans

In her new blog, Allison Kaplan Sommer says that the vitriolic rhetoric of the political campaign this summer will ruin any semblance of a relaxed, fun break for Israelis.

Israelis are used to disrupted vacations. That is why we plan them so carefully. In most of the world, one only has to take standard considerations into account - choosing the right time, accommodating work schedules, school vacations, and the big family weddings. Then you choose a destination that is both attractive and fits your budget, and most importantly, will allow you to relax.

But around here the process hasn’t been simple or easy in recent years. Let’s say you planned a lovely jaunt to northern Israel and Galilee in the summer 2006. It’s beautiful there, with lots to do, hiking, boating, wine-tasting, and other activities. But that year, holiday-makers were compelled to quickly figure out if their rustic bed and breakfasts possessed a bomb shelter. Vacation over. Since then, everyone’s taken the temperature of Hezbollah before they make reservations up north. Not that heading south means a quiet vacation, either. A visit to the southern part of the country to the desert cliffs near Be'er Sheva or the beaches of Ashkelon can also be rudely interrupted by a Gaza clash. Eilat seemed a safe bet - until Sinai became a potential missile launching pad and even holiday-makers there were not immune.

This year, leaving the country entirely seemed to be the obvious choice. A nice long summer jaunt trip to Europe or the U.S. may look expensive, but it also holds out the tempting possible bonus of missing a missile exchange with Iran, or as everyone has been referring to in the past few months with an ominously knowing look, “The event that could be occurring over the summer.” This seemed worth a little credit card debt.

But now, as usual, the rug has quickly been pulled out from under those of us trying to figure out when we can get a little respite. For families with children, vacation time is August: during the child-care black hole between summer camp programs and the first day of school. With the sudden announcement that early elections are no longer a possibility, but a certainty - as early as the first week of September - the chances of a strike on Iran and a response seem to have have plummeted. What politician is going to attack Iran on the eve of an election? Citizens huddled in bomb shelter, after all, have a hard time getting to the polls.

So the coast is clear to save our money and stay home, right? We’ve got glorious Mediterranean beaches and historic sites on our own doorstep. We can save our money and stay home.

But - can anyone really chill out and relax in the final month of a fast and furious election campaign that was pulled out of a hat a few months earlier? Won’t dodging the political vitriol flying back and forth between Netayahu, Mofaz, Lapid, and Yachimovich be almost as unpleasant as dodging Kassam rockets? For the average stressed-out Israeli seeking peace and quiet, the inevitable political campaign filled with vitriolic rhetoric in the heat of the summer months ruins any semblance of a relaxed, fun respite, no matter what corner of the country he or she may visit. It almost seems as worth escaping as Iranian missile attacks.