The Israeli Voter Ponders the “Moral Crisis”:
Pioneering Ideals Under the Test of Everyday Realities
ISRAELI newspapers and periodicals have recently been full of excited and anguished discussion of Israel’s “moral crisis.” By this they mean the marked relapse from the rigorously high-some would say utopian-standards of Zionist pioneering to the less exacting manners of a this-worldly lower-middle-class society in times of economic and political stress. And perhaps nothing could have been more illustrative of this change of climate than the behavior of Israel’s political parties and the press itself (which is largely party-controlled) on the eve of last November’s municipal elections.
Only in their verbal vigor and spirited abusiveness could the campaign speeches be said to have had anything in common with the abstruse ideological polemics and impassioned public debates on the common weal which preceded, before the birth of the state, elections to Palestine Jewry’s national institutions and Zionist congresses. In those earlier, heroic times, the parties competed in exhorting the voter to further sacrifice and promised nothing but the anonymous glory of working for a good cause. Last November’s electioneering was more in keeping with the coarser habits of New York City, Jersey City, and Chicago than with the bookish and solemn traditions of Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem. All parties fawned upon Mr. Voter, were concerned about the irregular delivery of his mail, the poor cobbling of his pavement, the leaks in his roof, and promised him the Israeli version of pie in the sky: apartments for all-without “key money.”
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