Tuesday, April 04, 2006

If anybody expected the politicians to take seriously the apathy expressed by about 40% of Israel's voters when they did not bother to come to the polling stations, or the mistrust that almost 100% of us have when it comes to those who are supposed to represent us and our interests, the past week has proven that such expectations were futile. Optimism and naiveté are very human qualities, here not less - and maybe even more - than elsewhere in the world, but every time that we are disappointed we become slightly more cynical than we were before, only to pin our vain hopes again on one or more individuals or parties when new elections are called, which in this country usually does not take too long after a new government takes office. I totally agree with what Aya Ben-Amos wrote. The flawed, primitive ( in my eyes ) voting system gives parties' representatives the opportunity to haggle over parliamentary seats and leaves the public - and the (wo)men who are supposed to build the coalition - in the dark about the final results of the election. That does not help to gain the people's trust in democracy. The Attorney General called upon the first ever Israeli-born ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yonah Metzger, to resign. AG Menachem Mazuz decided to close the criminal investigation against the chief rabbi ( here is an article on the AG's report ) but recommended the rabbi's resignation, in particular because the latter lied during his investigation. Never mind the question whether the chief rabbi should resign or not, what is most telling is the reaction by Eli Yishay, the leader of Shas, a party whose MKs have a reputation when it comes to being investigated and convicted ( Raphael Pinchasi early 1990s, Yair Levi 1993, Aryeh Deri 1999, recently Shlomo Benizri and Yair Peretz; as you can see, at least half a minyan ) to the report of the AG. Yishai congratulated Mr Metzger on the state’s decision to close an investigation against him and said that he rabbi's contribution to the Chief Rabbinate had glorified the body. Last but not least among this week's news items that caused me to be more sceptical than usual about the chances of this country ever becoming a normal, enlightened and respectable state was this article. Why is it that only non-Jews who want to become citizens will probably have to pass a citizenship test? I am very much in favor of such tests - not only in Israel but also in Europe - but everybody who wants to become a citizen of this country should have some basic knowledge about our common ( Jewish and non-Jewish ) past and about the institutes that make up the state ( no matter how corrupt or flawed they are ). Only a racial-genetic bond with the land is not enough to turn someone automatically into a valuable immigrant who is worthy of citizenship, I am afraid.

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