Baruch Marzel wins &mdash in mock Israeli election, that is

If, as unofficial results indicate, Baruch Marzel’s Hazit party received nary a seat in this week’s Knesset elections, the American émigré and former right-hand man of Meir Kahane can always content himself by assuming prime ministerial duties over San Francisco’s Outer Richmond District.

In a mock Israeli election held at Orthodox Congregation Chevra Thilim in said Richmond District, the Hazit party finished in a dead heat with Kadima. But strong showings from fellow religious nationalist parties Herut and Mafdal would — if this were a real election, and not one conducted over cups of Nescafe in a synagogue social hall — result in fervently religious politicians holding a majority of the Knesset’s seats in a coalition likely headed by Marzel.

When it comes to casting ballots, “people living in the disputed territories and people living in the Outer Richmond do tend to see eye to eye,” dryly noted event co-organizer Robert Fliegler of Americans for a Safe Israel.

Putting the best possible spin on what life would potentially be like if such a coalition ruled Israel, Fliegler ventured that he “didn’t think” people would be “forced” to celebrate the Sabbath.

The Tuesday, March 28 mock election, co-sponsored by Fliegler’s group and San Francisco’s B’nai B’rith Unit No. 21, wasn’t meant to install a right-wing Jewish theocracy in northwest San Francisco that would curb the 38 Express bus on Shabbat.

“This mock election is purely entertainment,” said Fliegler, who gave a tutorial on Israeli politics and the worldviews of its myriad parties at the event, attended by 40 or so folks who chatted amiably in English and Russian.

“It’s to give people a feeling that they’re participating” in the real Israeli election, held the same day. “We may all be Jews, but we’re not all citizens of Israel. As Jews, if you came out tonight, you feel a tie with Israel. So it gives people a small way to feel connected.”

And, not unlike their Israeli voting counterparts, only around half of those present at the mock election actually bothered to cast a vote. The final tally was five ballots for Ehud Olmert’s Kadima party, five for Hazit, four for Herut, three for Likud and two for Mafdal.

Two votes were also cast for Hadash, an Arab communist party. “All right, who’s the joker?” asked Fliegler when he tallied the results.

The joker turned out to be Eli Shirayanagi, who admitted he threw down with the communists to joke with the large Russian contingent at the night’s event, all of whom are less than enthusiastic about the workers controlling the means of production following their experiences in the former Soviet Union.

Labor, as indicated above, did not receive a vote. But this was hardly a surprise, considering a speaker’s reference to Bill Clinton — a president who polled up and over 80 percent among American Jews — was greeted with boos and the gnashing of teeth.

The mock election was also a chance for participants to express their concerns over a government led by Olmert, who was repeatedly characterized by those present as an opportunist leading a party with no ideology.

“Up to a month ago, I was a supporter of Kadima. I’m a big Shaul Mofaz fan and every time he speaks, it’s music to my ears. But when Olmert came out with his 2010 declaration” — a desire to cede land in the West Bank to Palestinians within the next four years — “I decided I was going with Likud,” said Isaac Kight of Campbell.

“At this point, further withdrawals are unnecessary. We don’t have any free party or government to give the land to, so it might as well stay with a free country.”

David Peters of South San Francisco, who voted for Menachem Begin’s Gahal party when he lived in Israel in the early 1970s, expressed a somewhat more visceral reaction to Olmert and a Kadima-Labor coalition.

When asked his opinion of the Israeli prime minister, he could only chuckle and stick his finger down his throat.

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.