ISRAEL

"Do we want to maintain our progressive values or get rid of terrorists?"

Israelis head to the polls Tuesday to elect the country's next prime minister. In the run-up to the election, we ask a left-wing Tel Aviv resident, a former Kibbutz resident and Labour supporter, an Israeli Arab, a rightwing settler, and a Green party supporter what's on their minds as they prepare to vote.

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Shai Versano, former Kibbutz resident, works in the media and votes Labour. He prefers to stay anonymous for professional reasons.

What is the single most important issue in the election for you personally, and which party will best handle that issue?

The Palestinians. And I think Labour, [centrist] Kadima and [right-wing] Likud do not differ much in their approach to the Palestinians. However, they do differ in their approach to social issues, to the separation between Judaism and the state, to more liberalism, to values I cherish. That's why I'm voting Labour.

Will Israel's economic situation influence your vote?

No, my only issue is that of budget allocation and Likud gives more money to the ultra-orthodox. Though that's not the whole picture because [Likud leader Benjamin] Netanyahu pushed through a great programme to cut welfare which had been taken exploited by the ultra-orthodox here.

Do you think the Gaza offensive has improved or worsened Israel's security? Do you feel physically threatened where you live?

I feel threatened in the long run. I don't think the Gaza offensive changed the fundamentals. [Ultra-nationalist leader Avigdor] Lieberman says that we live in the Middle East and have to act like the Arab states. But the question is, do we want to maintain our progressive values or get rid of terrorists?

Worldwide coverage focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What is the one thing you would like outsiders to know about Israel?

When the media covers the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they focus on the suffering of the Palestinians. That suffering is true but it must be put into context, the Palestinians also use it in their public diplomatic efforts and to justify acts of aggression. 

Choose a photo that either represents the upcoming Israeli election or that struck you during the campaign.

 

"Lieberman is my poster boy. He is this election's hero, not a good hero, he's our Jean-Marie Le Pen. For me he represents Israeli desperation with the political system."