Now that elections returns are in, we asked activists and social leaders from the NIF community who work on various issues to share their thoughts about the opportunities and challenges we can expect from the 20th Knesset.
Avi Dabush – Programs Director at Shatil
“I think that basically it’s the same result we got six years ago and maybe two years ago. We see that most of the people in Israel consider themselves right-wing and it’s no surprise. It was maybe a surprise the way the votes split between the right-wing parties. It is very good for us that [Kahanist party] Yahad didn’t get in.”
“I really believe that there are things a right-wing government can do. I think the second government of Netanyahu was good from the social and economic justice angle. The big protest in 2011 helped that, but I really believe we can do something about housing and employment in general under this government.”
“I’m not optimistic about the peace process, but I’m really hoping for good.”
Avi is the director of Shatil’s Proactive Initiatives (programs). Prior to his current position, Avi directed Shatil’s Environment and Community Program; established and administered a school for autistic children; and volunteered and worked at Green Course, Israel’s largest environmental volunteer organization. He was also a candidate for the Meretz party in last week’s election.
Dr. Ruti Feuchtwanger – Executive Director of Kolech
“I’m not sure there will be much of a difference on women’s issues. In the previous Knesset the power relations didn’t allow changing the laws on various issues that I consider important. I do believe, however, that we have a very good chance to get an active and positive leader for the Committee for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights – a good feminist woman to run this committee.”
“We also have Rachel Azaria in the Knesset from Kulanu. She did amazing work in Jerusalem regarding women’s issues. She also identifies with the ideas of Kolech 100% so I believe, based on her record, that she’ll do very good work.”
“The question is not whether there are women in the Knesset or not, but whether these women are committed to the cause.”
Ruti Feuchtwanger took over as Executive Director of NIF grantee Kolech last year. Before that, she earned a PhD from Bar Ilan University in Gender Studies, concentrating on the intersection between Talmudic knowledge, religion, and gender, especially as it relates to public policy. She has been involved in organizations advancing the status of women and of religious women in particular for years.
Rabbi Gilad Kariv – Executive Director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism
“It’s important to remember that the results of the election are more complex than simply a victory for one party or the other. Aside from the victory of the Likud Party and the assembly of a coalition based, among others, on the Haredi-religious parties, we should pay attention to other results: the failure of the extremist-right party “Yahad” that included Baruch Marzel; a decrease in the parliamentary representation of the Haredi-religious parties; strengthening of the major parties which contributes to the stability of the government; and the precedent-setting rise in the position of the Joint List that represents most Arab-Israeli citizens.”
“We should also recognize the complexity of the results from a personal level. On one hand, one of the talented spokespersons of the Jewish Renewal movement, Knesset Member Ruth Calderon, will not be part of the next Knesset. On the other hand, it should be pointed out that, among others, Rachel Azaria, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, and Ambassador Michael Oren, a past friend of the community “Kol Haneshama,” were elected in the Kulanu faction; Professor Manuel Trachtenberg, friend of the community “Beit Daniel” was elected in the Zionist Camp and Lieutenant Colonel Yoav Kish, one of the heads of the “Forum for Sharing the Burden” was elected in the Likud faction.”
In addition to serving as Executive Director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, Gilad Kariv is a rabbi and a practicing attorney in Israel. He served as an officer in the IDF Intelligence Corps, earned a bachelor’s degree and two masters degrees in Jewish Studies and Constitutional Law, and from 2003-2009 served as Director of NIF grantee the Israel Religious Action Center before taking over the IMPJ. He was a candidate in the Zionist Union party in this election.
Photo credit: via Wikimedia Commons