Columns | Shlicha's/Shaliach's View

Shlicha’s view: Contemplating Israeli election, family politics

Even if a donkey will be at the head of the Likud, you will vote Likud,” I laughed with my father, and he said, “Yes,” smiling, “because I am a man of ideology.”

I was raised in a pluralistic home in terms of political approach. My beloved late father grew up in a very Zionist house and was a Likudnik and my mother grew up in a Zionist Labor house.  Once my mother ran in a municipal election as a Labor representative! My grandfather was arrested in Morocco several times for his Zionist actions with youth. My father was inspired by my grandfather and by the Zionist leaders Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin. He didn’t call them politicians, but leaders. He said there is a big difference between a leader and a politician. I have learned this difference through the years.

Although he never agreed with Yitzhak Rabin, he appreciated his strong and pure belief that he was doing the best he could for the land that both he and my father loved so much. On Nov. 4, 1995, my father cried when he heard that Rabin was shot by a Jewish extremist whose beliefs were much closer to my father’s approach. My father was against Oslo, but never agreed with any type of violence, never. I have learned so much from the way he acted then and in many other political debates.

It is election week in Israel, a very controversial election, with the Iran threat on one hand and with so many interior issues that worry Israelis much more than the Iran threat.

My father used to say, “I was born Likudnik and I will die Likudnik.” Unfortunately, my father died in a terror attack on an election day, the 2002 primaries for the Likud party. He was killed at the Likud headquarters in Beit She’an by two Palestinian terrorists from a nearby village.


Israeli culture

Through the years, Israeli poets and lyricists have written dozens of election songs. Some protest against the current situation, some encourage parties to cooperate (1984) and some just demonstrate desperation (1989).

The song “Mekhakim Le-Meshiakh  — Waiting for Meshiakh” was written by Shalom Chanoch about Israel’s financial crisis in the 1980s. Chanoch chose the name Meshiakh, or Messiah, to describe a man whom a group of five people are waiting for, but the readers and listeners understand that Meshiakh is not only a man. The song describes some hope, because they are waiting for him to come and bring some change, but they keep saying “Meshiakh isn’t coming, Meshiakh isn’t calling either.”

The song ends with the following lines:

“The public is stupid therefore the public is paying

What comes easy will disappear as easily”

The little civilian had to pay big time


Purim in Tucson and upcoming events

Reading the Megillah on Wednesday, March 4 and breaking the fast with a great dinner made by Chani Bigelman and Sarah Laytin, the Weintraub Israel Center had a wonderful Purim party with many Israelis who loved being together.

The WIC started a new cooperation with the Israeli American Council, a national organization, to bring together Israelis who live in our community. Rabbi Ram Bigelman and Chani Bigelman opened the door of Chabad on River to WIC and hosted this first, successful event.

One upcoming event for Israelis — and everyone who would like to enjoy Israeli culture and to hear a lot of Hebrew —is Yom Haatzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) celebration on April 23 at the shlicha’s home. This event is part of the second annual Tucson Celebrates Israel week, which includes programs at many local synagogues. The week begins with the solemn Yom Hazikaron (Israeli Memorial Day) ceremony on Tuesday, April 21 at the Tucson Jewish Community Center and culminates with the Yom Haaztmaut/Israel 67 festival on Sunday, April 26, in the Tucson J’s sculpture garden. For more information, see http:// or call 577-9393.

(Oshrat Barel is Tucson’s community shlicha (Israeli emissary) and director of the Weintraub Israel Center.)