Reprinted from Gush Shalom
Anyone involved with political life knows that that is British understatement.
Churchill also said that the best argument against democracy is a five minute talk with an average voter. How true.
I have witnessed 20 election campaigns for the Knesset. In five of them I was a candidate, in three of them I was elected.
As a child I also witnessed three election campaigns in the dying days of the Weimar republic, and one (the last more or less democratic one) after the Nazi ascent to power.
(The Germans at that time were very good at graphic propaganda, both political and commercial. After more than 80 years, I still remember some of their election posters.)
Elections are a time of great excitement. The streets are plastered with propaganda, politicians talk themselves hoarse, sometimes violent clashes break out.
Not now. Not here. Seventeen days before the election, there is an eerie silence. A stranger coming to Israel would not notice that there is an election going on. Hardly any posters in the streets. Articles in the newspapers on many other subjects. People shouting at each other on TV as usual. No rousing speeches. No crowded mass meetings.
EVERYBODY KNOWS that this election may be crucial, far more so than most.
It may be the final battle for the future of Israel -- between the zealots of Greater Israel and the supporters of a liberal state. Between a mini-empire that dominates and oppresses another people and a decent democracy. Between settlement expansion and a serious search for peace. Between what has been called here "swinish capitalism" and a welfare state.
In short, between two very different kinds of Israel.
So what is being said about this fateful choice?
The word "peace" -- shalom in Hebrew -- is not mentioned at all. God forbid. It is considered political poison. As we say in Hebrew: "He who wants to save his soul must distance himself."
All the "professional advisers," with whom this country is teeming, strongly admonish their clients never ever to utter it. "Say political agreement, if you must. But for Gods sake, do not mention peace!"
Same about occupation, settlements, transfer (of populations) and such. Keep away. Voters may suspect that you have an opinion. Avoid it like the plague.