WINSTON CHURCHILL famously said that democracy is the worst political system, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
Anyone involved with political life knows that that is British understatement.
Churchill also said that the best argument against democracy is a five minute talk with an average voter. How true.
I have witnessed 20 election campaigns for the Knesset. In five of them I was a candidate, in three of them I was elected.
As a child I also witnessed three election campaigns in the dying days of the Weimar republic, and one (the last more or less democratic one) after the Nazi ascent to power.
(The Germans at that time were very good at graphic propaganda, both political and commercial. After more than 80 years, I still remember some of their election posters.)
Elections are a time of great excitement. The streets are plastered with propaganda, politicians talk themselves hoarse, sometimes violent clashes break out.
Not now. Not here. Seventeen days before the election, there is an eerie silence. A stranger coming to Israel would not notice that there is an election going on. Hardly any posters in the streets. Articles in the newspapers on many other subjects. People shouting at each other on TV as usual. No rousing speeches. No crowded mass meetings.
EVERYBODY KNOWS that this election may be crucial, far more so than most.
It may be the final battle for the future of Israel — between the zealots of Greater Israel and the supporters of a liberal state. Between a mini-empire that dominates and oppresses another people and a decent democracy. Between settlement expansion and a serious search for peace. Between what has been called here “swinish capitalism” and a welfare state.
In short, between two very different kinds of Israel.
So what is being said about this fateful choice?