Fall Brings Rockets and Politics

With the change in the weather, the after-the-holidays period is here, taking us from the festive meals and family time back to our daily routine through Hanukkah, the next holiday.

Last week, my family and I were touring the Old City of Jerusalem with tens of thousands of other Israelis and tourists from across the world. Downtown Jerusalem was packed with sukkot, which extended restaurant-seating areas and added festive colors and sounds to Jerusalem’s already special air. The traditional Aliyah laregel, collective pilgrimage to Jerusalem, was at its height through the holiday of Sukkot, and traffic jams were part of the cityscape throughout the night, all nights.

Now, in addition to the extra few pounds that everyone gains over the holidays, politics forces us to confront reality. Last week, as Israelis enjoyed the last day of Sukkot, terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip fired some 55 rockets and mortar shells at southern Israel. There were no injuries, although several animals were killed due to an explosion at a farm. Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed that the attack on southern Israel came as a response to the “Zionist crimes.” The Quassam rockets continued after the holiday as well.

In addition, the prime minister announced that Israel will hold early elections. Netanyahu says the economic and security situations require immediate elections for the 19th Knesset (Israel’s parliament). The global economic crisis is threatening to sweep Israel, and without a budget for 2013, there could be disastrous implications for the socioeconomic situation and for the weaker sectors.

Previous calls to move up the elections to May were put on hold after Likud and Kadima announced the formation of a unity government. The agreement lasted only 55 days, after which Kadima disengaged from the government, primarily due to the failure to devise a solution to the Haredi army recruitment issue.

Although the full Knesset term is four years, over the past 40 years the Knesset has managed to complete its full term only once, in the years 1984-1988. All other Knessets have been dismissed before their terms were up.

We’ll be hearing these names a lot in the next few months: Binyamin Netanyahu, current prime minister; Shaul Mofaz, Kadima party chair; Ehud Olmert, past prime minister and possible Kadima candidate for prime minister; Shelly Yechimovitz, Avodah party chair; Avigdor Liberman, secretary of state; and last but not least, journalist and TV star Yair Lapid, the latest popular addition to our political swamp.

Regardless of who wins the upcoming elections, the next government will be forced to approve a tight budget, possibly impose emergency taxes, and make critical decisions with regards to Iran and the floundering peace process.

Ehud Manor Z”L, one of Israel’s beloved poets wrote:

Bashana haba’ah
Next year
we will sit on the porch
and count migrating birds.
Children on vacation will play tag
between the house and the fields.
You will see, you will see
just how good it will be
next year.
Bashana bashana haba’ah

The words to Bashana Haba’a express our hopes when peace will come and we shall return to the simple pleasures of life, reflecting the eternal optimism of a hopeful nation.

Leah Garber , Vice President, JCC Association Israel Office
leah@jcca.org

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