It's election day in Israel and Israelis vote. We regularly have an incredibly high turn out - this is our chance to tell our leaders what we think and what we want for our country. Israel votes on a party system. Typically, the leader of the largest party becomes prime minister. Soldiers are included - they too have a voice in the country they are tasked with defending.
Those at checkpoints and sensitive areas start voting days before so that security is not compromised and rights are not denied. Elie is no longer in a sensitive area, neither at a checkpoint, nor in a war zone. So Elie's unit will vote today, as is all of Israel.
Those in the south have been warned - when you get to the polling place, make sure you know where the bomb shelters are. Be ready to run for safety. They vote under the continued threat of rocket fire, for the prime minister they think most likely to bring an end to this situation.
They vote in the north, under the threat of Hizbollah. They too will vote for the prime minister and party most likely to stand strong against Hassan Nasrallah and an ideology that worships death.
All of Israel votes under the threat of Iran and their promise to attain nuclear capabilities. We must vote for the party strong enough to face that threat, even if we must face it alone.
I spoke to Elie about who he would vote for. I am not naive. I know that I can influence my children, at least to some degree. They ask my opinion and weigh it in carefully. It is the responsibility of every parent to teach their children, and that encompasses the right to vote. My daughter and I will not vote for the same party. I understand her choice; I even agree with it.
Elie, like my daughter, would not vote for the same party for whom I will cast my vote. She will vote for a party that promises a strong Israel, one that will defend our land and our traditions. One of two people will become the next prime minister of Israel; one has already shown her weaknesses; the other has already shown his willingness to sell out positions upon which he was elected. Where does that leave us?
As with many lands, we are choosing the lesser of two evils. There is no real strong leader who has a chance to be elected; no great symbol of honor standing at the gates to lead our nation. It is all politics; and not even worthy politics at that. If I follow in my daughter's path, as my heart would have me do, I would cast my vote for a party that has no chance to hold the office of prime minister. At best, they will be called upon to join a coalition and sway it to the right path. But that is only if Likud is elected. If enough people on the right vote for these smaller parties, the worst of the two may become prime minister, leaving my daughter's party uselessly on the side. So I will go against my heart and vote strategically. Elie and I discussed this.
"I was thinking the same thing," he told me when we discussed my voting concerns.
It was another sign of the man he is becoming. I have little doubt that my middle son will ask me for whom to vote and likely follow what I say. It almost feels sometimes like I have more than one vote. But this is how they learn the importance of voting; by seeing their parents vote consistently in every possible election. In his case, he does not yet have the interest to investigate the parties and their positions as we do and so he trusts us to guide him.
That my daughter is voting differently than me; that Elie has thought through not just the options but the ramifications of the voting process, shows that we have succeeded in teaching our children the value and importance of democracy.
Elie and I, miles and miles apart physically, have come to the same conclusion - we will not vote for the best party, we will vote for the party most likely to be tasked with leading this country and we will pray that the party's leader will take us in the right direction, understanding who gave him the wings to fly.
And with that, when the weight of this responsibility becomes too much for us, we will remember that the future of Israel, our safety, security, the amount of rain, the economy, and all, rests not with the next prime minister, but with the King of Israel.
May God grant the leaders of Israel strength and wisdom and may He show no mercy to those who would stand against us.