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March 23, 2021 11:15 am

Reuven Rivlin: The People’s Choice

avatar by Reuven Rivlin / JNS.org

Opinion

Sheets of newly printed ballots seen at Palphot printing house in Karnei Shomron, in preparation for Israel’s upcoming general elections, Feb. 12, 2020. Photo: Flash90.

JNS.org – Waking up on election day is always exciting. The site of ballot boxes carrying the state emblem reminds me of days long ago, when we were not allowed to wave the Israeli flag.

I was only nine years old when the most amazing miracle of modern times happened for the Jewish people: the inception of a Jewish and democratic state and the renewal of our sovereignty in the land of Israel. We were like dreamers. And today, Israeli citizens are privileged to walk through the gates of the polling stations and exercise their democratic right to elect their representatives in the Israeli parliament—the Knesset.

I will admit that today, this festive excitement is mixed with feelings of worry and apprehension. Going to the polls for the fourth time in less than two years, following the prolonged political crisis that has been plaguing us, is not festive for any of us.

The dire consequences of this situation do not stem only from the impairment of the state’s ability to appropriate budgets and operate the essential services it provides the public in the fields of healthcare, education, employment and welfare—areas that seem more critical than ever in times of a global pandemic.

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This situation has eroded the public’s faith and confidence in the state’s democratic institutions—the Knesset, the government and the political parties—in an unprecedented way.

The feeling of despair that threatens to creep into the hearts of many Israelis cannot be allowed to stake its claim. A people’s resilience depends on the extent to which they believe in its ability to work together, and in its willingness to do so.

While our elected officials in the Knesset have not succeeded in this important task over the past two years, the coronavirus crisis has proven that Israelis, on the ground, can meet this challenge. In hospitals, at police checkpoints, in charity and aid organizations—Israelis from all walks of life came together, working shoulder-to-shoulder to weather the storm.

Touring our country over the past year, I saw the commitment demonstrated by the Israeli public—the determination, optimism and urgent sense of mission—and I was filled with profound hope; sincere faith that we have the power to join forces and continue to build and develop our Jewish and democratic state.

This hope must take us—all of us—to the polling stations to vote. This hope should fuel our demands of our elected officials to find a way to foster politics based on compromises; the kind of politics that is committed to integrity, to a partnership, and to all sectors of the Israeli public.

My fellow Israelis, do not let despair take hold. This is the time to effect change. Whatever your political beliefs may be, you have the power to shape the nature of the country in which you want to live. Take pride in your choice and be hopeful of the result. Go vote.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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