Im Tirzu is ‘protecting, not preempting’ Israel’s election – Opinion

Chairman of the board of Im Tirzu responds to concerns over the right-wing watchdog’s actions

Knesset Central Elections Committee Director Orly Adas counts ballots belonging to voters in quarantine, Shoham, March 2020. (photo credit: FLASH90)
Knesset Central Elections Committee Director Orly Adas counts ballots belonging to voters in quarantine, Shoham, March 2020. (photo credit: FLASH90)

This newspaper, among several others, has recently reported that there has been a somewhat distraught, some would say hysterical, reaction to a civic initiative by Zionist watchdog organization Im Tirtzu to protect the integrity of the upcoming Israeli national election.

The simple story is that following allegations of voter fraud in the previous election in March 2020, Israel’s Central Elections Committee created a new position called “election purity supervisor,” whose mandated task is to assure the fairness and integrity of the electoral process by documenting and reporting any irregularities at polling stations.
These election purity supervisors, as well as other positions such as the polling station secretary, are being hired according to a defined procedure and are being paid by the Central Elections Committee.
So Im Tirtzu, performing a civic duty, called for citizens to apply for these positions and fulfill the roles created by the government.
Sounds pretty innocuous, much like the work that was traditionally done in the US by the League of Women Voters; work that was just about as controversial as a vanilla ice cream cone.
Somehow, however, this story became something dark, ominous and threatening to the very foundations of our democracy. In a spectacular display of PTSD (“Post-Trump Stealing Delusion”), some on the Left had decided that Im Tirtzu was donning its antlers for an attack on the Knesset, or worse, was not prepared to accept the result of the election.
According to some people in these groups, the dangerous call to arms was a Facebook post that Im Tirtzu uploaded in which it encouraged citizens to apply for the polling station positions in order to negate the need for bringing potential issues before the Election Committee itself.
Since the Elections Committee Chairman is the left-leaning Supreme Court Justice Uzi Fogelman, there is a likelihood (as happened previously) that allegations brought by right-wing parties might not be adequately investigated. So, better to make sure that there were no problems than to run the risk that problems would not be addressed, which could subsequently undermine the public’s faith in the electoral process.
None of this seems at all ominous, unless one is looking for a scapegoat and an excuse to find nefarious motives among those with whom one disagrees. In that regard, it bears reminding that the great election turmoil in the US was not so much the disagreement among political parties, but largely the result of a situation that does not pertain here: mail-in balloting.
Israel, for all its hi-tech trappings, has a blessedly low-tech electoral process. Here you have to show up to vote, with a voter registration card and identification; and voting revolves around slips of paper, cardboard boxes and people cross-referencing, counting and re-counting.
So, the concerns in the US are not the concerns here. And the fears in the US should by no means become the fears to be implanted here. It is merely a conceit to think that there are people here waiting to storm the Knesset or to disavow electoral results. Such a delusion might well serve some strange political agenda or a paranoid constituency, but it in no way bears any resemblance to the possibility of truth.
It also bears reiterating that Im Tirtzu is not a partisan organization, nor are we in the back pocket of any political party. Our initiatives and positions are based on how best to both project and to protect Zionism and its values, and to reflect the consensual values of our citizenry.
Therefore, whoever is interested in protecting the integrity of our highly regarded and justifiably appreciated electoral process should welcome any initiative designed to strengthen it. Attempts to vilify that message just because of a disagreement with the messenger, ironically, do a great disservice to the public and to the integrity of our elections.
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Published at the Jerusalem Post
The writer is the chairman of the board of Im Tirtzu, Israel’s largest grassroots Zionist organization, and a board member of The Israel Independence Fund. He can be reached at dougaltabef@gmail.com.

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