Babylon & Beyond

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ISRAEL: Celebrating democracy — and some arithmetic

January 20, 2009 | 11:49 pm

Yeswecan_3Obama's inauguration, wow. If all those standing on the streets of Washington today were Israelis, the country would be pretty much empty.

Israel is having elections next month. Matter-of-factly, though, and none of this hope and change business. A term in office is expected to last four years but it's been years since any government expired of natural causes. Held quite frequently, elections are becoming a bit of a technicality, a bureaucratic errand needed to be run before resuming business as usual. 

Some feel this cheapens democracy; others think it actually improves it or, at the very least, proves that it works. Either way, it's definitely still fun.

Certainly, democracy is worthy of celebration and Israel parties hard in this department. And while America was going steady with Bush, Israel had been seeing other people — lots of them. 

Since Bush's inauguration in January 2001, Israel's been in a constant reshuffle. Israel has had (at least):

3 prime ministers

5 defense ministers

5 education ministers

7 justice ministers

7 welfare ministers

6 foreign ministers

10 tourism ministers (popular ministry, that one)

No wonder we're so well fared, educated, toured, defended, just, foreign and, um, primed.

SO, yes we can — boogie right on to the next party taking place Feb. 10, that is. Invited: citizens age 18 and up. Attractions: 34 different political parties (!).

With such a celebration of democracy, it's little wonder the system's constantly hung-over.

Party on.

— Batsheva Sobelman, majorly not in Washington

Photo: In Israel, Obama's slogan sells real estate ... in this case, used to promote the luxury housing project of Ganei Zion in Jerusalem's Kol Hair magazine. Credit: Batsheva Sobelman

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