Saturday, October 25, 2008

Politics - A Summary

This is a post that should have been made a long time ago, at least on some level…

Many of the people on my program have at least some interest in international affairs and/or politics if they don’t plan on majoring in or making a career out of one or both of these things. As such most members of my group stay up to date with politics.

During the National Conventions, I watched most of the Democratic Speeches and some of the Republican Speeches (I wasn’t as interested in all of the speakers) and I know that many of my friends did the same. We sometimes discussed the speeches while walking to class.

I, along with many of my friends, stay up to date with politics in the U.S. on a regular basis. Many of us monitor news sites online and watch news videos. Most mornings, I watch the recording of the previous evening’s CBS Evening News online and also subscribe to email updates from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Economist.

The progress of the Presidential campaigns, as well as other topics (i.e. the economy), frequently make it into conversations between my friends and I as well as conversations that are had and that I join in on during meals that I have been invited to when I’ve stood with different families around Israel. Many of the families I’ve stayed with have American citizenship and many of them plan on voting in the upcoming election, although some fear that they had missed the application deadline for absentee ballots. Some also said that it can be hard to contact the last place they voted in the U.S. if they left before they were of voting age or were born in Israel but also have U.S. citizenship.

I had been concerned that I would not receive my absentee ballot on time, if at all. Luckilly, I got it soon after Rosh Hashanah. This was important to me, not only because of the significance of this year’s election, but also because 2008 is my first Presidential Election and I wanted to make sure that I could vote. I filled out the ballot the same day I received and mailed it soon afterward to make sure that it would be in St. Louis long before the deadline.

As far as Israeli politics go, that is a big mess. I try to follow what is going on here, but it is very confusing. Even Israelis tell me the same thing. However, after attempting to follow what’s going on while living here and after visiting the Supreme Court and Knesset in Jerusalem, I have a bit of a better idea of how the government (is supposed to) function. I subscribe to email updates from the Arutz 7 news service, have an RSS feed from the Ha’aretz newspaper through Google Desktop, get video news from, and frequent the Jerusalem Post website.

Mayoral elections are coming up in many cities and that is a big issue in Jerusalem with candidates from a wide range of backgrounds. Tzipi Livni, the Foreign Minister, was recently selected as the head of the Kadima Party and has been attempting to form a new coalition government and become Prime Minister, but it is likely that she will not succeed and will instead send the country into general elections.

This is not even going into the craziness that is going on with the academic system. After two strikes last year (senior faculty and students) and the threat of another strike (junior faculty) as well as a semester being canceled, there are now threats of another strike. The government has been cutting funding to Universities (most of Israel’s Universities are public) and telling them to increase the costs to students – hence the strikes. As a result of the strikes, the government said they would restore their funding of Universities to their previous level (but not increase them). Now, the government is withholding that funding. Therefore, the Presidents of the Universities are threatening not to open the Universities for school (they start at various times in November) if they do not receive the funding – i.e. another strike. This is looking likely, but who knows.

Well I could go on and on, but this is enough for now.

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