Anglos need to work for the change we seek

The party lists have now been handed into the Knesset for the upcoming elections, and there are no Israelis who made Aliyah from English-speaking countries, known as “Anglos,” in any realistic position to enter the 24th Knesset.

This is a slap in the face of the Anglo community, which numbers over 350,000 Israeli citizens, most of which want to see greater representation of our issues in the Knesset.

According to the first-ever in-depth poll of Anglo attitudes undertaken in Israel, only a third of our community believe that we should not organize ourselves into a community to have the most impact on decision-makers, especially during elections.

A nice percentage of respondents say that having an Anglo candidate would allow our community to have the greatest impact on the Israeli Government.

In fact, it is noticeable how the conversation has changed over the last year, with more and more Anglos calling for our community to organize itself in a similar manner to other communities which have a regular and influential effect on government policy, like the Russian-speaking community, the Ethiopian and Druze community.

All of these, and many other communities and interest groups, span the political spectrum.

Take the Druze community as an example. It has four current Members of Knesset, even though they number less than 150,000. Their elected representatives range from The Joint List, Yesh Atid, Likud and Yisrael Beytenu.

So, here we have an example of a community which is less than half our size, whose members are far from ideologically or politically aligned, yet they have four MKs. These members are focal points for their communities, and their offices are almost pilgrimages for Druze who come to bring their issues, great and small.

The Ethiopian community is only slightly larger, yet its community is represented strongly at the executive level, where the Minister of Immigrant Absorption and Deputy Minister of Internal Security are in positions of power and can serve the interests of their community. One is from the Left and one from the Right-wing of the political spectrum.

While members of these communities might differ on issues of security, diplomacy and even finance, they work together on issues of importance to the community, whether highlighting relations with the police, immigration and absorption of its community as in the Ethiopian-Israeli population or fighting the Nation State and Kamenitz Laws among the Druze.

We can see clearly that parties which place representatives of these communities and fight for their interests will receive more votes.

As an example, when The Joint List made repealing the Kamenitz Law one of its central platforms, their increase of support from the Druze community increased threefold.

This is how things work in the Israeli system, where proportional representation provides smaller communities with an outsized influence.

Unfortunately, the Anglo community have yet to learn this, and that is why we can be passed over and ignored, even in favor of communities a quarter of our size, like the French-speaking communities.

We continue to argue that there can not be an Anglo vote nor necessity for an Anglo representative on party lists, despite the overwhelming evidence of how it worked and is working for other communities.

Even those who state that there is no need for an Anglo representative, have proceeded to make the case for one. My friend Reuven Spolter writes that there is no need for an Anglo MK but then bemoans the fact that Israel lacks a representative government. This is something we hear regularly and is one of the issues we are pushing for at The Anglo Vision.

Thankfully, the issue has been raised more frequently recently, and is even part of the platform for one of the major political parties. This is a tremendous achievement and something that is a first step to the change we all want to see.

Making Aliyah a national priority, career training, absorption counseling, and having a certain number of Sundays off throughout the year, similar to public holidays, like Memorial and Labor Day, in the U.S., and Bank Holidays in the UK, are just some of the issues which we constantly raise and are disappointed when they are ignored by our elected officials.

Since we started The Anglo Vision, over a year ago, we have been reached out to by many Ministers, Members of Knesset, and other decision-makers and opinion-shapers. What we have understood subsequently is that they want our vote, but not our representatives or issues.

The number of events, parlor meetings, social media pages and translated videos in English during the campaign demonstrates that the political parties know we are a sizeable constituency.

So, let’s make it work for us. This is how democracy works.

Our issues are not just for the good of our community but to make the country we love and call home even better.

Let’s take this current setback, and build a new paradigm. We need to let our political leaders know that our votes can be won by those who take us seriously.

If we coalesce as a community around issues which we care about, regardless of our ideologies or political opinions, we can effect the change we seek.

All it needs is work and commitment.

About the Author
Rabbi David Fine is the Founder and Dean of the Barkai Center for Practical Rabbinics in Modiin, Israel. He was a pulpit rabbi in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Overland Park, Kansas before making Aliyah in 2008.
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