May 28, 2014 Yom Yerushalayim, Presidential Elections
Today is Yom Yerushalayim, the day marking the reunification of Jerusalem. I remember when it seemed like such an important holiday. Today in Tel Aviv, it is like the day does not exist. In fact, in Israel the day has become one that is celebrated only by the National Religious. To most of the rest of the country, Yom Yerushalayim is something between an irrelevant and a sad day. When Jerusalem was first “liberated” we celebrated not just the liberation of Jerusalem, but our victory in the Six Day War. It is a victory, today, seems it had been assured. However, back at the time, the victory came after a month of worry and concern. It was a month when the very existence of the State seemed to be in question. The Six Day War was supposed to be our war to end all wars. Unfortunately, it ended up just like World War I. The Six Day War led the to the War of Attrition, then to the Yom Kippur War, and of course to the first and second Intifada. The Six Day War was supposed to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. Instead, that conflict continues – on higher, or sometimes lower burners – to this day. The Six Day War also created a messianic strain in Religious Zionism, a strain that has dominated the modern Orthodox community in Israel in recent year. The messianic strain has also effectively created a gulf between religious and secular Israel that will be very hard to bridge.
Meanwhile, in some more simple matters ... Six candidates are officially in the race to succeed Shimon Peres as President. Four are current or former Knesset members; two are woman. One of the women is a former Supreme Court justice and the final candidate is a Nobel Prize winning economist from the Technion. I met the Nobel prize winning Professor Shechtman recently and was suitably impressed. The other candidates – one of whom I know and always liked – will all (with the exception possibly of former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner) be a significant step down from President Peres. Since there are an unprecedented six candidates in the running and the balloting is secret, no one has a clue who will win. The election will take place on June 6th.
Now that former Prime Minister Olmert has been sentenced, our latest scandal involves the Port of Ashdod, a place that was long known for its corruption. Yesterday the police arrested the head of the workers' union and many others. It looks like the fight against public corruption is continuing.