Israel’s 18th Knesset: Too Many Voices… Too Little Connection With the People of Israel

Recent research conducted by Tel Aviv University Doctoral Candidate Asaf Becker for “The CECI Forum for Government Stability” (posted in Yediot Aaronot, March 25th), reveals that the current Knesset is the most representative of Israel’s diversified society since the establishment of th State in 1948. That’s the “good news”. The “bad news” is that due to the great number of diversified groups, Israel now has the biggest government cabinet ever, and the wide coalition poses serious challenges to maintaining an effective, stable government. Today, the government of Israel has 30 Ministers and 9 Deputy Ministers; some of the Ministers are even without portfolio.

According to the study, the early years of the Knesset boasted a prolific Ashkenazi hegemony, but in the current Knesset, this has dissipated. Also, Sephardics are no longer a minority; they have gained significant representation in the Knesset, similarly, so have Ultra-Orthodox Jews. In the 1st Knesset, only 3 Ultra-Orthodox Jews were present; in the 9th Knesset, the number had increased to 9. Currently, there are 16 Ultra-Orthodox Jews who serve in the Knesset.

In the first days of the State of Israel, the Knesset was mostly comprised of people not born in Israel. Only 15 MKs who were born in Israel served in the Knesset in 1948. Two decades later, the number had increased to 64 MKs. Today, the number is 86, including Arab MKs.

The female representation in the Knesset has significantly improved since 1948, but it’s still far from representing their real number in the Israeli population. Although, they make up 51% of the population, currently, there are only 23 women. In the 1st Knesset, there were only 12 women, and in the 14th Knesset, there were only 9 women MKs.

Another important ethnic group to note is the Arab sector. In the 1st Knesset, there were only 3 Arabs MKs; in the 9th Knesset, the number had increased to 10. Today, there are 13 Arab MKs. However, considering that the Arab population is almost 20% of the Israeli population, there are many Arabs who are not happy about their representation.

The general consensus is that over the years, there has been improvement in the Knesset’s social representation, but it seems to have come at a “cost”. Becker clearly addresses the problem, “Today, there is more pluralistic representation in the Knesset. However, though we have more social groups represented in the Knesset, it is harder to govern and the Israeli government ends up surrendering to small ethnic groups. No one in the government plans any long-term policies because they would never get to see the final results and someone else would enjoy the benefits.

The current Israeli government system was adopted from the Zionist movement more than 100 years ago. Organizers back then wanted a system that could serve as a “voice” to the entire world Jewry. Today, after 62 years of Statehood, Israel is a “melting pot” of rich diversity with about 7 million people. Indeed today, there is better representation of Israelis in the Knesset with 12 active parties, however, due to the current flawed system, MKs are not accountable to their constituents. This is a serious challenge facing the Knesset. A solution must be found to not only remedy the problem of government instability, a solution must be found to ensure elected officials’ accountability as well.

Below, please find the full article from Yediot Aaronot.

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Top Israeli Businessman Sites Problems With Government Instability

April 8, 2010, Charles (Chuck) and Kharlene Boxenbaum hosted an exclusive reception for The American Friends of The Citizens’ Empowerment Center in Israel (CECI) at their residence in Beverly Hills. Guests were privileged with a “behind the scenes” in-depth perspective of the current reality facing Israel’s government by Professor Israel (Izzy) Borovich, former Chairman of EL AL Airlines and current member of Israel’s “CECI Forum for Government Stability”

Professor Borovich spoke of his tenure as head of EL AL and explained the difficulties faced because of Israel’s chronic problem of government instability. “During the time I served as the Executive Director of Knafaim and EL AL Airlines, the government changed 14 Ministers of Transportation and 11 Ministers of Tourism.”

Professor Borovich also echoed the importance of CECI’s current educational initiatives in empowering young people and making them more aware of their civic rights and responsibilities. He particularly emphasized “The Ambassadors’ Project” and the work of “The CECI Forum for Government Stability”, whose efforts are urging Knesset members to unite, take charge, and mandate electoral reform.

To learn more about CECI’s projects in Israel, “The CECI Forum for Government Stability”, or how you can get involved and be invited to our upcoming events, please become a fan of CECI on Facebook

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Critical Steps Toward Israel’s Electoral Reform

Dear Friends,

The Citizens’ Empowerment Center in Israel (CECI) and “The CECI Forum for Government Stability” are heating up their efforts and proactively urging Knesset legislation to support alternatives to the current system. Recently, Kadima and Israel Beitainu Parties achieved a partial agreement which will serve as a basis for recruiting parliamentary support to remedy the problem of government instability in Israel.

This agreement was made on March 10, 2010 at the home of Mr. Michael Strauss in cooperation with representatives of the Coalition, the Opposition, and members of “The CECI Forum for Government Stability”. In the coming weeks, additional meetings will be conducted with representatives from other parties in order to expand the group’s support.

On March 16, 2010, a gathering was held at the home of Professor Izzy Borovich with the participation of Israeli Ministers, MKs, and Forum members. At this event, many people voiced their strong opinions about the importance of the Forum’s initiatives, pledging their full support to ensure electoral reform.

Now as the Knesset resumes its work after the Passover holidays, we’re increasing our efforts across party lines to secure the greatest number of advocates for this crucial step in Israel’s political history.

Warmest regards,

Dora Kadisha

Executive Director

American Friends of the Citizens’ Empowerment Center in Israel

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Youth Survey Ignites Serious Concern at CECI Conference

Dear Friends,

On March 11, 2010, CECI hosted an educational conference, in cooperation with Tel Aviv University, entitled The Youth of Today – Tomorrow’s Face of Israel.

Results from surveys conducted by Maagar-Mochot Institute were discussed and created quite a “stir”. The surveys polled Israeli youths about their connection to the State of Israel, their attitude towards new immigrants, including Arab citizens, and their overall political views.

Survey findings emerged with a “less than encouraging” picture of the attitudes of Israeli youth —

* 35% believe the IDF is the most trustworthy institution, as opposed to 2% who believe the government is the most trustworthy institution.

* 91% expressed a willingness to serve in the army (48% said they’d refuse an order to evacuate settlements in the occupied territories.)

* 47% do not think Israel’s education system is preparing them to serve as good citizens.

* 57% believe Judaism has reasonable influence on life in Israel.

* 87% want to continue to live in Israel (the rate among Jews is a little bit higher than the Arab Israelis).

* 50% of Israeli youths think Israeli Arabs should not be given the same rights as the Israeli Jews (56% feel that Israeli Arabs should not be elected to the Knesset.)

Officials from the Ministry of Education expressed serious concern over the surveys’ findings and emphasized that the results are an important “warning sign” in regards to the radicalization of the youth.

Chairman of the Knesset’s Education Committee, MK Zevulon Orlev, stated: “This distressing information illustrates the education system has neglected its responsibility in teaching students about human and Zionist values, Judaism, and democracy.”

MK Tzipi Livni commented, “We are witnessing an erosion of values amongst the youth.”

CECI President, Izak Parviz Nazarian, added, “We need to strengthen the image of political institutions in the eyes of young people because they are the future of Israel.” Executive Director of CECI, Yuval Lipkin, continued, “The results reflect a bad image of Israeli society. Those who work in education need to concentrate their efforts to uproot the lack of tolerance and lack of respect for the rule of the law.”

Tel Aviv University Professor Daniel Bar-Tal remarked, “The role of the Ministry of Education is to prepare its alumni to function as effective citizens. This is not a simple task due to the complicated nature of Israeli society. There is also a lack of consistency in the Ministry of Education’s ideology and policy because of frequent government changes. Therefore, it is important to establish permanent principals for the policy of the Education of Ministry.”

MK Zevulun Orlev remarked, “Good civics education reflects the values of community and society; if civics education can become a more practical experience, with concrete objectives within a national organized plan and not simply a idealistic vision, I believe that in 5 years, we will be able to see change.”

MK Dr. Ahmad Tibi proclaimed, “The life of a democratic society must be based on equality and mutual and national respect. Democratic values are not only for use in a slogan; in a democracy, all citizens, though different, are equal.”

Professor Avishay Braverman, MK Minister of Minority Affairs, stated, “Unfortunately, we have the one of worst democratic regimes in the western world, one which doesn’t attract the best people to serve in politics and the public service; though the State of Israel has enormous potential, we don’t develop the Negev and the Galil and, thus, we don’t bolster the State of Israel. I believe that we can make it, but the future is Jews and Arabs together.”

Conference speakers included: MK Tzipi Livni — Head of the Opposition, MK Zevulun Orlev — Chairman of the Education Committee in the Knesset, MK Dr. Ahmad Tibi — Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, MK Anastassia Michaeli — Member of the Education Committee of the Knesset, Avishay Braverman — Minister of Minorities, and Izak Parviz Nazarian – President of CECI. Also present, were experts from education and academia, including: Professor Orit Ichilov, Professor Nimrod Aloni, Dr. Raed Mualem, and Rabbi Shai Piron.

For more information, please see the links below for the video & newspaper articles –

http://video.tau.ac.il/Lectures/General/Citizens_Empowerment_Center_in_Israel/2010/

HAARETZ

http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/spages/1155708.html

YNET

http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3861092,00.html

WALLA

http://news.walla.co.il/?w=/1/1652403

T.V- London & Kirshenbaum

http://lnk.nana10.co.il/Article/?ArticleId=705412&sid=182

T.V- Erev Hadash

http://www.23tv.co.il/239-he/Tachi.aspx

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Excitement Builds As New Agreement Moves Closer to Government Reform

Dear Friends,

I am thrilled to report that on March 9, 2010, I was present at a ground-breaking meeting organized by CECI’s Economic Forum for Government Stability in Israel where prominent Israeli leaders achieved a new milestone in government reform.

The closed-door meeting took place at the Tel Aviv residence of Economic Forum member Michael Strauss. Present were representatives of Kadima and Israel Beiteinu Parties and members of the Economic Forum for Government Stability. The party representatives included: Kadima Party Chairperson MK Tzipi Livni, Kadima Council Chairman Mr. Haim Ramon, and Chairman of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee MK David Rotem from the Israel Beiteinu Party. In addition to myself, other members of the Economic Forum for Government Stability included: Dora Kadisha, Elishai Yanai, Amos Shapira, Dani Gillerman (former Ambassador of Israel to the UN), Professor Israel (Izzy) Borovich, Professor Daniel Friedman, Professor Gideon Doron, and Haim Asa.

It was inspiring to witness the passion of the senior politicians and fellow businessmen craft an agreement to advance the quest for remedying the problem of government instability. Meeting discussions included concern over the increased power of the smaller parties, which undermines the Knesset’s power as a legislative authority within the government’s system of checks and balances. For many, the highlight of the forum meeting was the fact that representatives of the Coalition and Opposition came together with economic leaders putting aside partisan concerns, in order to propose an agreement which would be best for the future of The State of Israel.

Some critical points were agreed upon which will be further developed prior to formal announcement by the parties involved.

To read more, click on the link to Israeli TV Channel 2 coverage of the event:

http://www.mako.co.il/news-military/politics/Article-c91e17765d94721004.htm

Warmest regards,

Izak Parviz Nazarian

Tel Aviv, Israel

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Trailblazing Businesswoman Urges Strong Connection to One’s Jewish Identity

The American Friends of The Citizens’ Empowerment Center in Israel (CECI) recently hosted two exclusive gatherings in honor of visiting Israeli social activist and entrepreneur Ms. Galia Albin.  The first event, spearheaded by the CECI Young Leaders, was a cocktail reception on February 25, 2010 at the Beverly Hills home of Abe and Nora Shofet.  The second event was a “Female Powerhouse Luncheon” on March 1, 2010 at the Beverly Hills home of Nassim and Majdoline Mussry.   Sponsors included:  El Al Airlines, Bank Leumi, Sara J. Pastries, Cloud 9, and Lee’s Liquors.

Ms. Albin traveled to Los Angeles to share her passion for the renewal of a strong Jewish identity, something she believes has been lost in the hearts of the young generation of Jewish citizens. “My generation got Israel on a Silver Platter straight from parents who escaped the Holocaust….Our problem and the instability of our government in Israel is because we lost the sense of identity. Each citizen in Israel feels, hey it’s all about me. No, it’s about the country. The only party that matters is the party that is called the State of Israel.  We forgot one agenda, called the State of Israel.”

Consistent with CECI’s efforts in Israel, Ms. Albin echoed the importance of teaching young people about their civic rights and responsibilities.  She emphasized that education and a strong sense of identity are integral in building a stable, enduring future for the State of Israel.

To learn more about CECI’s exciting programs and how you can receive invitations to exclusive upcoming events, please contact Soraya Nazarian at 310-300-4120 or email her at Soraya@omninet.com

(From left to right) Citizens Empowerment Center in Israel (CECI) Executive Director Dora Kadisha, Pouran Nazarian, Majdoline Mussry, Galia Albin, CECI Director of Development Soraya Nazarian, Galit Dayan, and Jeannine Sefton.

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A Renewed Search for Our Jewish Identity

On February 25, 2010, The Young Leaders of The American Friends of The Citizens’ Empowerment Center in Israel (CECI) hosted an exclusive reception in honor of social activist and entrepreneur Galia Albin. The event was held at the residence of Abe and Nora Shofet in Beverly Hills.

Albin traveled to Los Angeles to share her passion for the renewal of a strong Jewish identity, something she believes has been lost in the hearts of the young generation of Jewish citizens.

Albin has a law degree from Tel Aviv University, undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology from Northwestern University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.  She naturally found a niche in politics. Shortly after leaving her company, she joined the Kadima Party and attempted to win a seat in the Israeli Parliament.  Her attempt to enter Israeli politics reflects her strong desire to share her patriotic views with others.

“My generation got Israel on a Silver Platter straight from parents who escaped the Holocaust.”

“Our problem and the instability of our government in Israel is because we lost the sense of identity. Each citizen in Israel feels, hey it’s all about me. No, it’s about the country. The only party that matters is the party that is called the State of Israel.  We forgot one agenda, called the State of Israel.”

Consistent with CECI’s efforts in Israel, Albin echoed the importance of teaching young people about their civic rights and responsibilities, along with emphasizing that education and a strong sense of identity are integral in building a stable and enduring future for the State of Israel.

Approximately 80 guests were in attendance, including young professionals and community leaders. An open “Q & A” session followed Ms. Albin’s speech.  Attendees were able to meet Ms. Albin one-on-one and participate in a raffle, where the top prize was a round-trip airline ticket to Israel, courtesy of EL AL Airlines.

The evening’s sponsors included:  El Al Airlines, Bank Leumi, Sara J. Pastries, Cloud 9, and Lee’s Liquors.

Photo by Orly Halevy (from left to right): Nora Shofet, Soraya Nazarian, CECI Dir of Development, Edna Naftaly, Bank Leumi Beverly Hills Sr. VP, Galia Albin, Liora Avrahami, El Al Regional West Coast Manager, and Abe Shofet.

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Save The Date!

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CECI’s Education Programs Create Excitement in Israel

Since CECI’s launching of its Ambassador’s Project in March 2009, approximately 20 Israeli schools (2000 students) have participated in this program, which aims to encourage leadership skills and civic involvement. It also enlighten students about the problem of Israel’s government instability.  The highlight of the program is entering  a competition which will award a trip to the United States to 5 students and 1 teacher, who will get the chance to meet elected U.S. officials in Washington D.C and California, and witness first-hand American democracy in progress.

The Ambassador’s Project is supported by many high-level officials, elected politicians, businessmen, civic leaders and academia. During the months of November and December Izzi Borovich, Michael Strauss and Orit Rishpi gave lectures in various high schools.

On December 28, 2009, CECI held a meeting at Ironi High School.  Ms. Noga Keinan, Chairman of the CFO Forum (Chief Financial Officers) and member of the CECI-sponsored “Economic Forum for Government Stability”, presented a lecture for the 12th grade students.  Ms. Keinan also addressed Israel’s problem of government instability and how it affects current civic issues such as the water crisis and difficulties in the education system.

CECI’s Civics Website Program, currently in its pilot stage at 5 schools, is attracting a great interest as well.  Mayors of various cities are calling to request the program to be implemented in their high schools.  With the help of chat rooms, teachers and students forums and online operators the program helps Israeli students prepare for the mandatory Matriculation Exam in Civics.

Links- Article from Mynet

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