Only Some Israelis Vote for Knesset 19

Today is Election Day in Israel for the 19th Knesset

and some are calling it a celebration of democracy.

photo Israeli election box

For a hi-tech country voting is decidedly low-tech,

photo Israeli election

with a cardboard ballot box and voting booth in a school classroom.

Israeli election photo

 Inside the booth, write-in votes are possible with a pen on white paper.

Israeli election photo

The nice workers in our polling place were happy to pose for a photo.

Israeli election photo

Across the hall the scene was similar,

Israeli election photo

and though the turnout is described as heavy,

the lines were short at midday.

BUT,

stairs photo

in order to get to the voting place you had to climb stairs, lots of stairs.

While I was trying to get a good angle to show a serious problem,

Israeli election photo

a friend who had moved to Haifa came up the stairs to vote.

However, for the disabled and many elderly in the neighborhood,

there was nothing to smile about.

Israeli election photo

Outside, to get in the building there were more stairs,

Israeli election photo

and for some getting down could be as hard as going up to vote.

Israeli election photo

As I left, this woman with two walking sticks tried to vote, 

 and I do not know how long it took her to do all those stairs.

The situation for access of the disabled and elderly  

is terrible in many of the old buildings in Jerusalem, Israel.

Jerusalem election day photo

One thing no one could complain about was the weather.

blocked sidewalks

Even though many sidewalks are still blocked by trees downed by the snow,

photo from Israeli election day

today was a day to get outside and enjoy the spring-like weather.

The temperatures certainly added to a party atmosphere, 

but access for disabled must become a priority.

I still think it is outrageous that someone in a wheel chair

has a hard time to vote in a democracy.

There are  locations for wheel chair access,

but isn’t it time to make public buildings accessible?

25 New Reasons There’s Hope for Future in Israel

Human Rights Watch finally called Hamas’ firing on Israel a “war crime,”

however, a month after Operation Pillar of Defense,

 new rockets were launched toward Israel from Gaza that fell short.

As the year 2012 comes to an end, how about some good news?

Last week I got out of Jerusalem, Israel, and went south,

sign Gaza photo

    near the Gaza border, where the sign was only in Hebrew and Arabic.

Sign Kibbutz Alumim

Kinneret was kind enough to show me around Kibbutz Alumim,

field near GAza

whose fields are 4 kilometers from Gaza, which can be seen in the distance.

factory on kibbutz

Carrots from the fields are sorted in this factory,

bomb shelter

whose bomb shelter is at its entrance.

bomb shelter children playgournd

Another shelter is placed on the children’s playground

bomb shelter Israel

and all the housing has safe rooms added on.

cows photo

 Alumim also has cows and avocado trees,

sunset photo

and impressive sunsets.

Like a pearl that started from a grain of sand in the ocean,

in this seemingly unlikely place, and because of “the situation”

Mechinat Yonatan

a new program began called Southern Task Force-Yonatan

or Mechinat Yonatan, for Yoni Netanyahu.

Started last year by a few idealistic girls who found others on Facebook,

study group

this co-ed, religious group of 25 young people

are taking a year after high school to work on the kibbutz,

class room lesson

 study Torah, and volunteer in schools in nearby cities.

music photo

They get up early and work hard, but still find time to relax,

Israeli tank

and all of them plan to join the army next year.

With young leaders like these, I say we have 25 new reasons to hope

Mechinat Yonatan

 for a better future in Israel.

sunset

The young people I spoke with talked of wanting

to work the land, learn Torah, and make a difference.

As 2012 comes to an end, can you think of a better hope for the future?

To see more photos, click HERE.