Nochi Dankner Joins “Forum For Government Stability in Israel”

On March 28, 2011, Israeli Globes Newspaper reported that businessmen Nochi Dankner, Avraham Biger, Dan Propper, Gazi Kaplan, and Executive Director of Ormat, Yehudit Bronicki, have joined “The Forum for Government Stability in Israel” in efforts to change the government system to allow the government to serve for 4 consecutive years.

The newcomers to the Forum join a large group of experts from the academic and business world including: Professor Uriel Reichman, philanthropist Izak Parviz Nazarian, Elisha Yanai, Amos Shapira, and Michael Strauss.

Other new Forum members include: Executive Director of the Toto – Offer Peri, President of the Chamber of Commerce – Uriel Lin, Head of Adjutant General Branch – Major General Elazar Stern, CEO of Clal Credit and Financing – Esti Friedman and CEO of Dapei Zahav Group – Nir Lampert.

During the last few months, the Forum has been able to initiate discussions between different political parties. Discussions have sparked a general agreement that the parties will continue to promote legislative changes to strengthen the government and the Prime Minister by increasing the number of votes needed to dissolve the government through a motion of “no confidence”.

Additionally, Forum members will consider the possibility of adopting “direct elections.” This will be done in an improved system, utilizing the lessons learned from the direct elections held between 1996-2001. The direct elections at that time harmed the larger parties and garnered harsh public and political criticism.

“The Forum for Government Stability in Israel” was founded by Nazarian and spearheaded by CECI, a non-political organization that promotes education for democracy, government stability and good citizenship.

According to the Executive Director of CECI and the Forum, Yuval Lipkin, “The problem of governance has become the biggest enemy of Israel’s democracy, and it harms every aspect of life for Israeli citizens. Long-term government programs are not being promoted, nor implemented because Ministers change so rapidly. Thus, important reforms in areas such as health and education are never realized.  Mr. Lipkin stated that it is impossible for public representatives to effectively manage elections every 2 years, therefore they will be increasingly dependent and focused on private donations, instead of being focused on their constituents and public interests. 

By Lilach Weisman – To read the complete article, please click:

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Knesset Welcomes Winners of “Siach Ve Sig”, HS Debate Competition

March 24, 2011

Knesset Welcomes Winners of “Siach Ve Sig”  
High School Debate Competition

On March 23, 2011, the Israeli Knesset welcomed the 2011 student winners from Tel Aviv’s Ironi Dalet and Hod Hasharon’s Hadarim High Schools, along with all the participating teachers of CECI’s debate program “Siach Ve Sig”.

While at the Knesset, the students observed a discussion in the Knesset plenum, visited the Knesset library and watched the discussions of various committees. The Speaker of the Knesset, MK Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin, greeted the students and the teachers, congratulating them on their commendable achievements in the “Siach Ve Sig” Competition.

 The highlight of the Knesset visit was a meeting with Minister of Education MK Gideon Sa’ar. Minister Sa’ar spoke with the students on issues related to education, democracy, and civic participation. The Minister explained the importance of the program “Siach Ve Sig” as an educational tool in promoting students’ rhetorical abilities. He added that during the next academic year, the debate program will expand and include hundreds of high schools in Israel.

The Knesset visit concluded with an exciting presentation, where the “Siach Ve Sig” winners received medals from the Minister of Education Gideon Sa’ar.

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MK Gamliel Promotes Reforms For Women and Political System

March 18, 2011

 MK Gamliel Promotes Reforms For Women and Political System

On March 15, 2011, The American Friends of CECI coordinated a reception for over 100 Israelis, hosted by Yona and Ezra Levi at their residence in Encino, California. The event took place in honor of Member of Knesset Gila Gamliel – Israel’s Deputy Minister for the Advancement of Young People, Students and Women.

The evening’s program commemorated Yom Ha Isha (Women’s Day). It began with a short video followed by American Friends of CECI Board Member Gal Ben-Naim, who talked briefly about CECI’s mission and educational projects in Israel. Illana Shoshan Diamant, former Miss Israel, served as the MC.

MK Gamliel discussed the revolution she hopes to implement regarding women’s status and young people. As a young energetic mother herself, she highlighted the fact that women are currently misrepresented in the Knesset. Today, only 6 out of the 13 political parties in Israel are represented by women. Out of 120 Parliament members, there are only 23 women. Additionally, out of 29 Ministers, there are only 3 women, and only 5 women serve on the municipality level out of 255. Gamliel stressed, “Once we have more women in key positions, things will change. There are not many young women in the political system. I am focusing on advancing the sector of young women.”

MK Gamliel also addressed the problems young people in Israel are facing after their army services. After finishing the military service, many do not have a future plan in place and the State does not help them. Consequently, she proposed a law which would provide one year of free study for individuals who finish their military service and maternity leave for female students who give birth while at the university.

Emphasizing the need for government stability in Israel, MK Gamliel stated that during its 63 year history, Israel has had 32 governments. She confessed that the present system is not working. Today in Israel, in order to establish a government you need a coalition, but smaller parties often end up having more power than is appropriate for their size. She mentioned that Prime Minister Netanyahu appointed Minister Israel Katz to re-examine alternatives for electoral reform in the Knesset’s Committee for Examination of Government Systems and Governance in Israel.

In closing, MK Gamliel stressed, “In Israel, there is a serious problem of governments not being able to finish their full term.” She blessed CECI’s efforts in serving as a catalyst to help pave the way for a stronger, more stable government system.

“You are doing a holy work,” she exclaimed. 


MK Gila Gamiel

(from left to right) WEF Co-founder Illana Shoshan Diamant, CECI Treasurer Gal Ben-Naim, MK Gila Gamiel, and hosts Yona and Ezra Levi


This is event was held in collaboration with Women’s Empowerment Foundation, co-founded by Illana Shoshan Diamant.
Women's Empowerment Foundation 


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CECI Debate Program Crowns Winner

Dear Friends,

It is with great pride that I update you that on Tuesday, March 8, 2011, the final rounds of competition of CECI’s “Siach ve Sig” Debate Program in Israel and award ceremony were held in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Education at the auditorium of Beit ha Tfutsot (Museum of Diaspora) at Tel Aviv University.

The final competition included debate teams from four high schools — Herzeliya, Hod-Hasharon, Rishon Lezion and Tel-Aviv.

The Israeli College Debate Team, which won first place (in English language) at the International Competitions at Oxford University, trained the high school teachers for CECI’s debate program and served as judges for the finals.

As you may be aware, March 8th was the International Day of Women. The bright, enthusiastic finalists eloquently debated different aspects of the topic addressing abuse of female images in advertising. The winning school was Ironi Dalet from Tel Aviv, and the runner-up was Hadarim High School from Hod-Hasharon.

Minister of Education, Gideon Saar, attended the ceremony and spoke highly of CECI and its educational initiatives. We were all very proud to receive his heartwarming praise. After the event, some parents expressed what an amazing “learning tool” the Debate Program has been for the students. Many revealed that the program brought them closer to their children by helping them prepare for competitions and discuss the pros and cons of different subjects.

I wish you could have been part of this amazing event! It truly was an impressive outcome for a pilot program, which began last year with only 20 schools.

Due to the tremendous interest generated by this initiative, next year, we plan to implement “Siach ve Sig” in over 300 Israeli high schools.

CLICK HERE to view the video that was presented at the final competition.

 Kindest regards,

Izak Parviz Nazarian

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Aryeh Deri Voices His Support

On Thursday, February 17, 2011, CECI’s Forum For Government Stability hosted an important gathering with former Minister of Interior, Rabbi Aryeh Deri, and other government representatives.

Participants at the meeting included: CECO of Cellcom — Amos Shapira, former Director of Israeli National Security Council — David Ivry, Executive Chairman of the Peres Center for Peace — Dov Lautman, former Israeli Ambassador — Uri Lubrani, attorney — Shlomo Cohen, former Cabinet Secretary — Israel Maimon, businesswoman — Galia Albin, former senior advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon — Dr. Raanan Gissin, and many others.

David Ivry addressed a few significant points from the Megidor Commission (spearheaded by CECI):

1. Raising the voters’ threshold.
2. Head of the biggest party will be chosen as the Prime Minister.
3. Regional elections
4. Norwegian Law

Rabbi Aryeh Deri expressed his support for these proposals, but he mentioned he does not believe in regional elections.

He urged that social pressure needs to be exerted on members of the Knesset and major parties long before elections occur in order to bring about reform. Overall, he does not support small cosmetic repairs to the electoral system, but rather, he advocates a thorough change of the system. He added that we do have “Basic Law” and as such, he does not believe that creating a Constitution is the answer for securing the necessary changes. Rabbi Deri emphasized the importance of these points:

1. Direct election of the Prime Minister.
2. Raising the voters’ threshold significantly.
3. Prime Minister should be able to select his government without the approval of the Knesset.
4. Knesset members should serve a full term (four years).
5. Ministers should be professionals in the field they serve.

The General Director of The Citizens’ Empowerment Center, Yuval Lipkin, commented: “The problem of governance has become the biggest enemy of democracy, and it affects every citizen in the country. Long-term programs are not promoted, and sometimes, they are not planned at all, simply because the Ministers are replaced too quickly to complete their plans for security, health, education, etc. Additionally, elected officials are forced to deal with campaigning for new elections every two years, instead of serving the general public’s interest. We need to change the electoral laws in this Knesset’s term and formulate a legislation for a more effective system of government before it’s too late.”


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Civil Service Project Probes New Boundaries

Recently, CECI spearheaded a forum headed by former Minister and head of Shin Bet, Ami Ayalon, which prompted discussions about promoting civil service recruitment to the IDF in the Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) sector of Israel. (CECI’s “National Civil Service Project” promotes civil service members’ involvement in excluded sectors of society.)

MK Yohanan Plesner served as a prominent voice in discussions as to the best approach to secure recruitment in the Haredi and other ostracized areas. It was noted that of these young people who reach 18, records show that generally 50% of the youths will not be drafted into the IDF. These include Ultra-Orthodox, non-Jewish citizens, and those with physical difficulties. This state of polarization deepens the sense of a growing rift between the various sectors of Israeli society.

Participants generated a proposal to lobby their idea of integrating the Ultra-Orthodox circuit into mainstream society. All agreed that the Israeli public must recognize the changing status and role of the IDF. Only a combination of army and Civil Service will enable the various sectors of the public to share the vast array of society’s burdens. Key points included:

  • Promote a public dialogue with the Orthodox population to allow recruitment into the national service circuit.
  • Consider long-term effects on army recruits if thousands of Orthodox recruits are included.
  • Create various ways for Haredi volunteers to effectively choose between the army and civil service work.
  • Establish a framework for an emergency civil service unit.

In addition to promoting the involvement of National Civil Service members in ostracized sectors of society, the “National Civil Service Project’s” goal is to increase awareness of the importance of personal contributions in order to secure a well-functioning and healthy society.

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Stimulating Student Project in Israel

The Citizens’ Empowerment Center in Israel (CECI) commenced competitions for its “Sig ve Siach Debate Project” on January 9th. This educational debate program, which began in 2010, has been set up at high schools in cooperation with Minister Gideon Saar and Israel’s Ministry of Education. This year’s competition will honor 2011 as Israel’s “Hebrew Language Year”.

The debate teams are utilizing the theme: “Ensuring a Spot for Women in Parliament”. Yesterday, four different high school teams met at Shmuel Hanagid School in Hertzlia. The student debates boasted impressive arguments, and everyone viewed the competition as a huge success.

“Sig ve Siach” is designed to help students develop personal rhetoric skills by teaching them how to improve their ability to stand before an audience and successfully utilize their powers of persuasion. Within the project’s curriculum, topics focusing on cognitive thinking, listening techniques, and the “culture” of discussion will be addressed. Such topics have not customarily been taught in the educational programs of high schools.

The competitions for the year will be completed by March 2011 to commemorate “Israel’s National Day of Women”. The 4 top winning schools will be announced nationally and will receive their awards at a special ceremony at Tel Aviv University.

Best regards,
Parviz Nazarian

Sig ve Siach Project
Sig ve Siach Project
Sig ve Siach Project

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