Thursday, February 5, 2009

IsraelVotes 2009

There are a number of ways to combat anti-Israel sentiment. One is to try to discredit the other side, and another is to show that the Zionist cause is just and legitimate.

A third, more palatable way is to show people that Israel is actually a thriving liberal democracy. Emphasis on liberal: while any regime can hold elections, liberal democracies also have the institutions and laws to serve as a firm foundation for both society and government. These institutions enable the liberal democracy to continue to protect civil liberties and rights. Israel is, notably, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East.

IsraelVotes 2009 argues for the Zionist cause in this third way. The program, sponsored by Hasbarah Fellowships, the Jewish National Fund and the Israel on Campus Coalition, tries to raise awareness about the upcoming Israeli elections on February 10th. It does so by explaining (with bright colors and humorous depictions of political leaders) each party's platform, from Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party to a number of Arab parties and MKs. (Arab pols make up ten percent of the Knesset.) In addition, student leaders will encourage members of the student body to "vote" on their candidate of choice.

This site not only explains how Israeli government works, but it also tries to show that different people of different ethnicities with different worldviews can thrive in the Israeli political system. It's a novel approach that could change the way people think about Israel -- no longer just a military behemoth, but also a bastion of liberal democracy.

1 comment:

  1. For a look at Israel outside the parameters of the military/political conflict and to go beyond Israel as a democracy "just like us" argument, there is also the "value added to the world" argument. I forget how many patents are filed per capita and in absolute terms in Israel each year, but it never ceases to amaze. A very good organization -- Israel 21C -- speaks to Israel's advances in technology, medical research and the like. It is a shame that that side of Israel, also, isn't better known.