The Israel Dental Association elections

This past Friday, the Israel Dental Association held their elections. The outgoing leadership chose who they wanted in all of the positions for the next four years and the 108 delegates voted unanimously in favor. In previous posts I wrote about the undemocratic election process, which favors the incumbents to the point it is mathematically impossible to unseat them. Over the past 30 years, the leadership under Dr. Yitzhak Chen systematically changed the by-laws of the organization to this undemocratic system.

Upon discovering this last year, I made official complaints to the Registrar of Non Government Organizations, (rasham amutot), an office in the Justice Ministry, which is responsible for supervising all NGO’s, including the IDA. I complained that the IDA by-laws are non democratic and accused the registrar of negligence in allowing the non democratic changes in the by-laws over the years. (Every change in by-laws is sent to the registrar for approval). The answer I received , from Ms. Anat Iluz, the Deputy Director of the Department of Welfare Authority of Corporations,(of which the registrar is part) is as follows: The system chosen by the NGO in its by-laws was not found to be unreasonable, and as long as it does not contradict the Law of NGO’s (1980), the registrar will not interfere in the judgement of the institutions of the NGO. She continues, that in any case, every member of the IDA, according to its by-laws , even if he is not a delegate to the National Convention, has the right to speak at the convention (if requested and coordinated in advance), and the right and opportunity to submit a request to bring up for discussion the topic of changing the by-laws.

The fact that the election process is totally undemocratic, with the outgoing leadership choosing the new leadership, (mostly themselves) is of course unreasonable and therefore should be blocked by the registrar. The idea that bringing up changing the by-laws to a vote before the delegates of the national convention, of whom the majority benefit from the current by-laws, as they were appointed directly as delegates (60 out of 108) is self defeating.

To prove the point, this is what I did. Two weeks before the convention, I sent a letter to the Central Committee of the IDA (the governing body) requesting permission to attend the National Convention, and requesting the right to speak and to add a topic to the agenda, before the elections. My topic was the undemocratic nature of the by-laws and the election process. I outlined in the letter my opinion that the by-laws and the changes made over the years were undemocratic and while benefiting the outgoing leadership, harmed the rights of the general membership. Changes to the by-laws were never publicized to the membership. The results being that the outgoing leadership chose the new leadership in every election process over the past 20 -30 years. This is undemocratic.

The day before the convention I received permission to attend and was told my letter would be read at the convention.

On Friday at the Tel Aviv Hilton, after a nice breakfast paid for by the general membership, the 108 delegates and I were called to order. The legal advisor of the IDA was introduced and he said that a member wrote the following letter. He read aloud my letter and added that I had made¬† a complaint with the registrar of NGO’s and that they had decided not to interfere. A delegate, near the front, then requested that my issue be removed from the agenda and called for a vote. I interrupted and requested the right to speak. This was rejected, and the delegates voted unanimously to remove my issue from the agenda.

During the 2 weeks from the time I submitted my letter, the leadership, with the participation of the legal advisor, obviously discussed how to deal with my request. The scenario that occurred was planned. They would not let me speak. The legal advisor would read the letter and make his comments. They would have a delegate request the removal from the agenda, and no discussion would be allowed. I would not be allowed to speak.

While this was disappointing to me, it was not unexpected. I wanted to see, if within the 108 delegates, there were any who would agree with me, who were honest enough to admit that the election process is not fair and democratic, but there were none.

The election process of the IDA has been corrupted. Those that caused this, are therefore corrupt. The delegates who willingly enable this corruption to continue, are also to a degree, corrupt.

The definition of delegate, according to an online dictionary: a person designated to act for or represent another or others. The delegates of the National Convention are supposed to represent the will of the general membership. They are supposed to vote to protect the rights of the general membership. The delegates of the IDA represent only the outgoing leadership and themselves. Once every 4 years, they get a nice free breakfast.

About the Author
Dr. Dan Cheifetz is a graduate of Georgetown University Dental School. He has been practicing dentistry in Israel for 36 years. He served in the IDF as a dentist from 1989-1991.