Explaining the various nuances, ideologies and idiosyncrasies of individual Israeli parties would take pages of text and is most likely to bore, instead we simplify each party as a food metaphor – readily digestible and hopefully easily understood. Enjoy the brief taste.
‘Labor’ as Mash Potato.
Long traditional to many a household diet, indeed it was literally forced fed to many Israeli households in the 1950s and 1960s. Today however it has become somewhat unfashionable. A flexible companion to many other dishes – it will go basically go along with anything. Ultimately it is what it is, a tad stodgy, tired, undesirable and despite attempts in recent years to reinvigorate by trying to make it cool with constant changes to presentation, it remains largely unappetizing. A nostalgic taste that largely lost its appeal by the late 1970s. (1977 to be exact). Still appeals to the over 80s and kibbutzniks.
‘Likud’ as Indian Takeaway.
A cornucopia of delights. A mixed bag of spicy goodies and sometimes very bland inexplicable mush. A favorite for 40 years now. Colorful, sometimes surprising, rarely dull. We can’t seem to get enough of this stuff – but one is often left with a regretful feeling, a kind of buyer’s remorse. We are left bloated with a grudging sense of having been seriously ripped off. How the hell did that cost me so much? We feel fooled. We are nevertheless glutton for punishment, despite a too often greasy aftertaste, we soon forget, and gladly come back for more and more and more.
‘Yesh Atid’ as Popcorn
No substance, little depth, no complexity, not serious. Sometimes comes sugar coated. Surprisingly popular.
‘Hosen L’Yisrael’ as Shawarma
A tried and tested formula. ‘Salt of the earth’ nourishment, popular almost everywhere, agreeable to almost all tastes. But this is very much a ‘hit and miss’ dish, one is never quite sure what’s hidden inside. Perhaps it doesn’t’ much matter, one or two basic ingredients – as for the rest- the details, who cares, who even asks? This is a macho street grub – No nonsense stuff. It could however have us running to the toilet – flushing it all away – as quick as we gullibly gulped it all down. But for sure we will soon hungrily have another one sometime soon, same stuff, different seller.
Photograph – Abouelafia Bakery Jaffa (Paul Kearns)
‘Meretz’ as Toasted Kale and Mashed Avocado on Toast
Achingly fashionable but surprising unpopular. Hugely popular in the ‘far abroad’; New York, London, Berlin but also the ‘near abroad’; Tel Aviv. Dismissed locally by many as faintly ridiculous, frivolous or indulgent, of no real substance. Nothing but hipster dietary ‘virtue signalling’. For others it’s simply a cabbage and fruit salad with bread, a thoroughly decent workers meal that could and should be better promoted as good for everyone’s health. It’s all in the packaging guys.
‘Kulanu’ as Shnitzel and Chips
Tasty looking. Positively Yummy. Basic and relatively cheap. Always appetizing, always tempting. Appeals to almost everybody, but despite the initial promise it ultimately leaves one feeling a little disappointed, unsatisfied. It’s simply isn’t enough. We know deep down, this superficial love affair can’t last, we need to grow up we need something more substantial.
‘Gesher’ as a Tin of Beans
Barbecue flavoured – an old sauce masquerading as a new flavour in a new can. Nothing more to see, or taste, move on.
‘Habait Hayudi’ as gefilte fish
A specialist delight and treat for many, pure stomach-churning revulsion for most of the nation. It remains unfathomable, given what’s actually inside and how it’s made, just how many people find how this gelatinous stuff edible. Be warned, if this dish is not disposed of quickly it can rot from the head down (if you can find the head) and can therefore be a very serious danger to your health. Recycled leftovers repackaged pose an even greater threat to your family’s health and frankly to everybody else.
‘United Torah Judaism’ as Caviar.
Black. Always Black. This isn’t an acquired taste, you are either born with it or you are not. An absolute must for some – for all sorts of obvious reasons – simply impossible to even taste for 90% of the population. Just too many fishy stories about this dish.
‘Joint List’ as Maklouba.
Exotic to some, a mixed bag to others. Perhaps too many layers, too many flavours. Does the job nevertheless, fulfils its role.
Photograph – Apartment Rooftop Berdichevsky Street Tel Aviv (Paul Kearns)