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Go Green!

Two months ago, I announced that I’d decided to vote for the Green Movement. I urged the Greens to form a joint slate with MK Michael Melchior’s Meimad party—and they did. And since then, silence. Where the hell have I been? Skeptical journalist that I am, I’ve been doubting my decision. I’ve been looking for the holes in my arguments. I’ve been agonizing. In the wake of the Gaza war, shouldn’t security issues take precedence? What if the Green Movement-Meimad doesn’t get over the 2 percent threshold? And if they do, what can a tiny party accomplish? But now, with the election coming up next Tuesday, I’ve made my decision. Again. And it’s to vote for the only party in the race that I can be enthusiastic about. The only party that offers a new way of looking at the weighty issues that Israel will face in the years before us, the only party that offers a comprehensive, long-term vision of Israel’s future as a democratic Jewish state that is part of the local and global community of nations. A friend told me the other day: “Environmental issues are important, but given the perils Israel faces, should the environment be the single issue you vote for?” A brief perusal of the movement’s platform shows that the question is misplaced. Far from being a one-issue party, the Green Movement-Meimad offers a comprehensive program that addresses international affairs, economics, social services, and education as well as the environment. In the tradition of the Green movements of Europe, the environmental crisis serves as a paradigm for how to address the entire range of issues facing the country. The left-hand column of the movement’s website offers (in Hebrew) a long list links to the slate’s position papers on topics ranging from the Israel-Arab conflict, employment, and higher education to immigrant absorption, Jewish-Arab relations within Israel, health, and the water crisis. If you believe that Israel must strive for an accommodation leading to a two-state solution to the current conflict; if you believe that Israel must build a more just and equal society if it is to survive; and if you understand that to survive and to live peacefully with our neighbors, we must adopt rational, conservationist policies regarding our use of our land and natural resources, this is the only party to vote for. So the good reasons to vote for the Green Movement-Meimad are evident. What about the good reasons for doubt, the ones I’ve been agonizing over for the last few weeks? One of these is the strategic argument. It states that a responsible citizen should vote for that large party that is headed by the candidate for prime minister the voter prefers. To govern effectively, the prime minister needs the backing of a strong party. So one should not quibble about details and chose the large party that is closest to your views. In this race, there are only two viable candidates to head the next government—Binyamin Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni. The news organizations have been including the leader of the Labor Party, Ehud Barak, on the list simply because Labor has historically been one of Israel’s two largest parties. But the fact is that Barak and Labor are out of the race. While I’m far from enthusiastic about her, there’s no question in my mind that she’d be a better prime minister than Netanyahu. But Livni heads a party whose allegiance to her commitment to the two-state solution and social progress is questionable. Her slate includes super-hawks like Shaul Mofaz and a large contingent of party hacks. There’s no reason to believe that a vote for her party, Kadima, would in fact make her more able to govern. Another reason not to vote for the Green Movement-Meimad is the fear that they will not make it over the 2 percent threshold required to gain seats in the Knesset. In fact, most polls show them falling short. However, the polls also show that a full third of voters remain undecided. The accuracy of the surveys’ findings is thus seriously in doubt. And there are good reasons to believe that the Green Movement-Meimad’s support is being undercounted. Most of the polls call people at home; Green Movement-Meimad’s supporters are disproportionately young people who have only cell phones, not land lines. But even if the movement does not make it over the threshold, its votes will not be lost. If Netanyahu wins, as seems likely, the Zionist left will be in disarray. It will need to look for new ideas and new leaders. And the enthusiasm and commitment that the Green Movement-Meimad has generated in this election will make it an important component any new force for peace and social justice in Israel. So I apologize to the candidates and supporters of the Green Movement-Meimad. I’m done agonizing and ready to vote. Read more by Haim at South Jerusalem

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