Israel’s election is tomorrow, yet voting started here yesterday. At Kirya Defense Headquarters in Tel Aviv, serving Israel Defence Force troops have cast their ballots, and today more polling stations will open for soldiers.
There is not much solid information as to suggest how the troops will vote. In recent elections, however, they appear to have backed the parties of the Right. So it is a fairly sure bet that a large number – especially among the rising proportion of Zionist-religious young men in the Force (NOT ultra-orthodox) – will be drawn to Naftali Bennett and his very right-wing Jewish Home party.
Bennett seems to be the liveliest story of the election, both abroad and here. The Israelis I have spoken to, after they tell me that the election is boring, only to want to talk about Bennett, Bennett, Bennett. He appeals particularly to soldiers, many of whom are so young they have not voted before, because his image is paradoxical: his projects and image that is religious in tone and secular in style. He quotes Seinfeld as comfortably as the Bible. He’s laid-back, but he’s a tough nut. He got rich from IT. This speaks directly to many of the young serving soldiers who have grown up with all the technological comforts of modern western life, only to find themselves serving in the frightening military.