It’s been a nice and long run. Time to move on. http://www.hayardeny.org
See you there!
איך אתה מרגיש, עמירם? שואל הפייסבוק הבוקר. ואני מסתכל מסביב ורואה המון הודעות עם המון תקווה. נחשתם נכון, מדובר על הבחירות הקרובות. תקווה למה? לנס. שום דבר פחות מנס (לפי הגדרתי: ארוע עם הסתברות סטטיסטית של אפס שקרה בכל זאת עקב התערבות אלוהית) לא יוריד את נתניהו מהשלטון. אגב, אם לאלוהים היה איזשהו ענין בבחירות האלו, מן הסתם היה מארגן נס הפוך… אבל לא על כך מדובר, מדובר על התקוה לנס של הצד שלכאורה אלוהים לא תומך בו. של המרכז ושמאלה ממנו. ואני מביט בסקר האחרון ואומר לעצמי, לאיזה נס יכול לקוות איש מרכז שמאל ממוצע? הסקר אומר שלעבודה 17 מנדטים, ללבני 8 וליאיר לפיד 12. ביחד 37 מנדטים טבין ותקילין. נניח שאלוהים יארגן נס גלוי כזה, והעבודה תקבל 20, לבני 10 ולפיד 15. ונניח (לא סביר) שהנס יארגן גם למרץ 10 מנדטים. האם יש פה קואליציה? בחלום. לעומת זאת, אפילו ללא התערבות שמימית נתניהו יקבל 32 (לדעתי יותר), הבית היהודי 14, ש”ס 12, ויהדות התורה 5 – לפי הסקר ללא ניסים ונפלאות, כבר יש פה 63 בלי להתאמץ. יאיר לפיד וכנראה גם ציפי לבני יזחלו לקואליציה ככל הנראה ושלום על ישראל(סתם בצחוק – שלום לא יהיה וגם לא רווחה ולא חינוך). הבחירות הוכרעו. תתקדמו
Maimonides, AKA Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon (the Rambam) was a Jewish thought leader who lived almost a thousand years ago. He is considered one of the greatest leaders in Jewish history. In fact, there’s a saying suggesting that “From Moses to Moses, there was no one like Moses”. The first Moses is the one who freed the Israelites from Egypt. The other is Maimonides. Maimonides was a trained Doctor, an Astronomer, and a great Philosopher. His influence on the Jewish People can still be felt today. I can’t help wondering what would the Great Maimonides say if he had seen the election campaign of his successors: the Great Party of Torah Judaism, Agudat Israel, and the Torah Flag (quite a fancy name is it not?). They are actually scaring people using the name of Euclid. A Greek mathematician, whose great work helped humans understand better the law of nature. Supposedly, the laws of God. Imagine that, a Jew gets up in the morning, and he is scared to death that his child, God forbid, will know a thing or two about the world created, supposedly, by God. I find it incredible. And I am willing to bet that so would have Maimonides, if he were alive. But then again, if he were alive, we wouldn’t have to deal with these ridiculous interpretation of the Jewish Religion.
I am going to say something really disturbing now. But I have inherited the right to say it from my Holocaust Surviving mother. Bear with me. The late Ephraim Kishon, in one of his timeless short pieces called “Common Sense” talks about a person who can’t stand German films (Austrian as well). The other person tries to find out why and to his assistance he brings many facts to which the first one agrees. At the end of the discussion he asks him to state his position towards German films. He answers that he can’t stand them. Then the question comes: “where is your common sense?” to which the first guy answers: “burned in Auschwitz”.
This is not Judaism, this is not the same Judaism practiced by Maimonides anyway…
Let me start with a joke. It’s not a funny joke, one that will get you rolling on the floor laughing. In fact, if you think about it, it’s rather a sad one. And so it goes.
Two campers were hiking in the forest when all of a sudden a bear jumps out of a bush and starts chasing them. Both campers start running for their lives, when one of them stops and starts to put on his running shoes. His partner says, “What are you doing? You can’t outrun a bear!” His friend replies, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I only have to outrun you!” (source). Is the sad part obvious, or should I spell it out for you? Let’s assume all understood the sad part of this reasonably funny joke.
Back to the election. Why do people vote? It’s not an easy question to answer. And it’s certainly not very obvious. In a situation where three people must vote on anything, like three guys voting on where to have dinner, or what movie to buy tickets to, the answer is simple. Each vote makes a difference. And if you vote, your chances of determining the outcome are relatively high. But the larger the number of voters are, the chance of making a difference gets lower and lower until it gets infinitesimally low.
Statistical research suggests and I agree, that contrary to popular beliefs and government propaganda, your vote doesn’t count. The article goes on in discussing possible reasons for voting, and rejecting them. Magical thinking is one possible explanation: “what if nobody will vote?” I never knew there was a term for ridiculous thinking (like when I asked my father for something because a few friends had it or had permission to do it: “what if they all jump off a bridge, will you want to do that as well?”, I wish I had known the term “magical thinking” existed back then). Whether you vote or note has absolutely no effect on whether anyone else will vote. It’s a completely independent variable. You vote or you don’t. The system will not collapse on your account. The “civic duty” argument does not hold either. Simply stated, your civic duty ends when you show up at the polling station. Even if you vote randomly to whatever party is on the top right side… Alas, when people do turn up to vote, they cast their ballots for their favorite candidate or party. Apparently by doing so confirming that they think or wish that they actually do make an impact. Unfortunately, we have already determined the zero impact they will make on the election outcome…
The author goes ahead and suggests a different reason for people to vote. Rather than trying to determine the future, they are more likely to react to their past voting experience. The research suggests and concludes that people who voted for the winner in the presidential election of 1972 (Nixon) were significantly more likely to vote in 1974 (midterm Congressional election) and the 1976 Presidential election. Those who voted for the loser in the 1972 Presidential election (McGovern, Schmitz, and other minor candidates) were significantly less likely to vote in either the 1974 midterm Congressional election or the 1976 Presidential election.
Same goes for non-voters. Those who supported the winner (Nixon) but didn’t turn out to vote in 1972, were more likely to vote again in 1974 and 1976 (after all, they got what they wanted without bothering to drive to the polling station). Those who supported the losers (McGovern, Schmitz, and other minor candidates) were more likely to vote in subsequent elections.
In American Presidential election, the results usually reflect about half the voters voting for the winner, and around half the voters voting for the loser. As half the population’s voting behavior is reinforced voting for the winning candidate, and the other half is punished by voting for the losing one, it’s pretty obvious why the turnout in the election is about half…
Now this is all fascinating, as it takes a close look at individual human behavior within a collective population behavior. And as this model is apparently working (verified in multiple elections over a couple of dozen years), I thought it would be interesting to take a look at Israeli voter behavior.
First and foremost, Israel and the US are very different. Government is elected and formed in a completely different way in both countries. The Unites States of America has two main political parties – The Democratic Party, and the Republican Party (GOP). Elected Congressmen represent a geographical district (which may change as a result of a periodical census), and elected Senators represent states. Districts and states represent mixed populations. Jewish Senators represent all people in his or her state, and a black Congresswoman represents all people in her district. Furthermore, in many cases, Congressional votes cross party lines.
In Israel, there are almost thirty political parties. Some represent national ideas, others represent social ideas, religious beliefs, specific segments in the population, and other concepts. The extremes are the “Green” party which represent the environment, and the “Green Leaf” party which represents the weed users in Israel and their drive to “legalize it”. I’m not sure how it works, but I wonder what conclusions we may come up with for the next Israeli election which will take place on January 22, about one week from today.
The last election was in 2009. Here are the results. (Source: Wikipedia)
Let’s try to apply two rules and try to predict the results one week from now. The two rules are simple: if you voted for the winner, you will go vote again. If you voted for the loser, you are less likely to vote. If you didn’t vote at all but supported the winner, you are unlikely to go and vote, and if you supported the loser you are more likely to go to vote. Like so:
The concept of winning or losing an election in Israel is very tricky. For example, in the 2009 election, Kadima won the largest number of seat in the 120 seat Knesset (the Israeli Parliament), but failed in forming the coalition. Kadima is perceived to have lost the election, as well as its voter base. Likud, on the other hand, won 27 seats, but won the election with a successful coalition formed, and increased its voter base. Yisrael Beiteinu, headed by Avigdor Liberman won 15 seats, but was able to join the coalition and dictate a right wing agenda. Shas, a sectorial religious party representing mostly religious Jews immigrating to Israel from North African countries (such as Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, etc.) won 11 seats only, but was able to dictate a social agenda, addressing the needs of the people they represent. The Labor Party headed by Ehud Barak won 13 seats, but managed to be entirely decimated during the last term. So who are the winners and losers, and how likely the voters are to come vote for them again? I would claim that it’s easier to determine losers than winners… Even worse, in the Israeli election system, winners can turn into losers overnight, and vice versa…
In the 2009 election, the mandates (a mandate corresponds to a seat in the Parliament) were distributed as follows:
The rules above must be revised, as voter turnout was higher than 50% (almost 65%). Also, Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu are now running mates, Kadima is pretty much gone, Labor Party has a new head and face, and a few new parties are running. This is, by the way, another beauty in the Israeli election system: the political map from one election to the next is unrecognizable…
So let’s assume the following: the same voter turnout as in 2009 (65%).
Now, let’s try and determine which parties are likely to be part of the coalition, and which are likely to not. Likud Beiteinu is formed of two winning parties, and is extremely likely to not only be part of the coalition, but to form it. Hence, in trying to determine where the votes will go, my clear assumption is that the Likud Beiteinu is to be part of the upcoming coalition. Labor party on the other hand is not likely to be in a Likud Beiteinu formed coalition as stated by its chief – Sheli Yehimovitz. Shas, and National Union are clearly winners, as they have managed to not only be in the coalition but to gain much more than their relative voter value, and are very likely to join the coalition. The unknowns are Yesh Atid (Future Exists) and The Movement headed by Zippi Livni. The Movement can be considered a losing party, as Zippi Livni was head of Kadima in its former existence. Yesh Atid is running for the first time, and hence is not a losing party. Both are likely to go to coalition.
Kadima is a clear loser. Possibly the clearest loser in Israeli voting history. This suggests that the voters who chose Kadima in 2009 are likely to vote for a party likely to be part of the coalition.
From the outset, I thought that I could actually apply this model to the Israeli election system, and five minutes later I realize that there’s no chance in hell. Israeli election system is far too complex compared to the American one, and there’s really almost nothing in common. Let me give a couple of examples.
In most of the world, poor people vote for left wing parties. Quite possibly Israel is the only country in the world where poor people vote right wing capitalist parties into power. In most of the world, sectorial parties are not even in existence. In Israel, the sector is far more important than the state itself. Predicting the outcome of the election? Forget it. Below is the latest poll published last week. My prediction is different.
The government will be formed by Benjamin Netanyahu, and with him in the coalition will be National Union and Shas – for a total of 64 Members of the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament). Later on Torah Judaism will join (for cash), and later than that Future. However let me predict that Future will be either thrown out, ousted, or will quit the coalition on its own when the time comes to make serious decisions such as taxes for the middle class, or any kind of serious negotiations with the Palestinians. Future, as well as the Labor Party and the Movement, will serve as fig leaves for the world to see, but stand no chance to drive an agenda of any kind.
Yes, this looks bleak. I don’t regret not being there to vote.
We love hand soap. The kind that comes in a container with a pump. The kind that gives you a nice soapy, foamy feeling of cleanliness. I usually buy a couple of containers with the pump on top, and a few refills that come with no pump. A few months ago, we bought, by mistake, the clear hand soap container that actually foams at the mouth (pun intended). There’s a clear liquid inside, but when you push the pump, nice, white, thick foam comes out. Not bad actually. To make a long story short, the foaming at the mouth container was finished, there was no replacement, and the only refill I had was of the old kind, the hand soap liquid that doesn’t foam. It was an emergency. I took the old regular refill and filled the foamy container but it didn’t work. The liquid was way too thick. I tried a different strategy. I poured most of the liquid soap out of the container, and filled the rest with water, then I gently stirred it, to mix the water and soap together well. A miracle happened. It worked just fine, providing the rich, nice, soapy foam. And then it occurred to me. The cost of the regular liquid soap was as much as the foaming one. But with one regular liquid soap, I could actually populate five containers with the foam. Bottom line: the secret is the pump.
And what’s the orchid have to do with anything? About five years ago we went to India for three weeks. We had a couple of plants in the house and we knew that without water they will die for sure. I took a Ziploc bag, filled it up with water, and punctured a few small holes in it with a needle. I then placed it inside the planters. One in each. To our great surprise, when we came back three weeks later, the plants were alive and well, with water to spare. I’ve been doing it ever since. We haven’t lost a plant yet. A few weeks ago we had guests who brought us a beautiful orchid. Usually the orchids survive for a couple of days at our homes. But this one has been around for almost two months now. When we went to Israel in the beginning of December, I did the Ziploc trick on the orchid. Worked. Bottom line: I tried to sell the idea to Ziploc, but they said that I needed to have a prototype. I decided to share the idea instead.
Both work. Enjoy.