Israeli journalist Dana Weiss said Israelis vote on one key issue – security.

In an unprecedented sequence of events, Israel is facing its second election in a year Sept. 17, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is under indictment on corruption charges, failed to pull together a coalition government after winning the election April 9.

“At the end of the day, when the voters go to the polls and the ballots, they think about surviving,” she told about 75 people June 17 at the Israel Bonds Cleveland Women’s Division Sponsors Luncheon at Acacia Reservation in Lyndhurst. “So, I would say that instead of having a better tomorrow, they want to make sure in Israel that they have a tomorrow. In some way, if you’re from the right then you’re automatically perceived as taking care of security. And if you’re from the center, center left, you need to be a general in order for the public to believe in you.”

The chief political analyst and anchor of the Saturday night news on Channel 12 gave a rundown of the candidates leading Israel’s political parties starting with the far right and ending with the left. She spoke of her personal connections to each candidate, one of whom she first met in high school.

“Today’s politics are about emotion,” she said. “We either love them or we hate them. I don’t know if we listen to them anymore.” 

Asked about Sara Netanyahu’s guilty plea to corruption charges, Weiss spoke about the prime minister’s leadership.

 “He has given Israelis the best decade ever economically, stability, and the fact (is) he is facing the most severe legal charges and if he’s found guilty, he will find himself in jail,” she said. “This is the big destructor of the Israeli political system. And his wife is his best ally, his best friend. She’s a very smart, sharp person, and I think it doesn’t help when you have two people in the house who have legal issues.”

She also recalled that Netanyahu gave former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert advice.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2008 when he was head of opposition went on the air on our channel and gave Olmert, who was then a prime minister under investigation, a bit of advice. And he said an acting prime minister cannot do both, he cannot fight for his truth in court and lead his country. And here we are 10 years later. And I think Prime Minister Netanyahu, he explains that those were different circumstances.”

Asked why there have been so few women at the helm of Israel, Weiss pointed out that Israel has had a female prime minister, Golda Meir.

“It’s still a man’s club,” she said. “It’s changing.”

Regarding the composition of the Knesset, she noted that there are fewer women in the Knesset this session than in the previous one.

“I hope that changes,” she said, adding there is change taking place in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.

“The most interesting stories are happening in Bnei Brak and in Mea Shearim,” she said. “Because there are groups of women there who are fighting for their political rights, and they are fighting to be part of the political scene and they are doing very well.”

She also explained that Israelis appreciate President Donald Trump for his policy, not his politics.

“They support him on his actions,” she said. “And for the vast majority of Israelis, the move of the embassy, the breaking away from the Iran deal, the recognition of the Golan Heights, are things for the Israelis (that) make them feel they are secure.”

Touching on Israel’s innovations – from cherry tomatoes to self-driving cars – Weiss said she is hopeful for the future of the country.

“(Former Prime Minister) Shimon Peres once said, ‘A room with no women is a room with no future,’” Weiss said. “I love that saying. He also said, ‘The future of the Middle East will change when women have rights.’ And I think it’s true. I’m hopeful about change in Israel.”

Since January, the Cleveland Women’s Division has raised $1.1 million for the State of Israel. In 2018, the division raised $2.3 million.

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