The Olim and the Upcoming Municipal Elections

Election day in Israel is a day for celebration and the Olim who want to feel the common joy of all Israelis, need and must participate in the up coming municipal elections taking place on October 30th 2018. The following will help you understand better why this is so important.

I truly believe that the Olim are the greatest asset a city can have. The Olim usually come to Israel with very impressive academic achievements and degrees, and also with a lot of professional experience. The Olim can contribute from their knowledge and experience in every place they live and in all fields: business, finance, education, academia, culture, technology, foreign relations and more and more. What the Olim need to understand, is that their city needs them.

Even those who care less about politics, or those who do not listen usually to the news are urged to go and vote. Why? Because elections are the greatest symbol of democracy and in Israel it is a true fulfillment of the word Zionism. While there are countries in the world who do not enjoy this privilege, some citizens in democratic societies take this privilege for granted, and this is unacceptable. I urge everyone to go and vote. We waited for a state for 2000 years. Show you care and go to vote.

Who to vote for? This is for you to decide. There are many candidates, and many parties. Do your homework and make sure you have a say regarding everything that is going on in your city. If you do not participate in this very unique democratic activity don’t come complaining afterwards that everything is bad. By not voting you are very much strengthening all those that you don’t like the most. Why are you so nice to them? Go and vote!

What can the Olim ask for from the different candidates? (Please see the following as an open list):

Budget Spending: The most important thing one needs to aim for is to make sure the budget of a city is very well spent. You pay Taxes and Arnona but if you don’t show the candidates that they need to hear you before they spend, you might see all you Arnona payments being flown to the sky on Yom Haatzmaut as fireworks. It is an easy equation. The more quite and passive you the more “fireworks” you’ll see in the sky in this upcoming Yom Hahatzmaut.  Get involved!

Helping New Businesses of New Olim: Olim who establish a new business need to get as much support and connections, and mentoring as they can get. Make sure your candidates take this point in to account. You can surly demand for less bureaucracy in the business licensing department, and for networking, mentoring and support programs for new businesses of Olim. I dare to say that if you are powerful enough you can also demand some Arnona benefits for businesses of new Olim, this is a bit more complicated but is possible.

Education: Have a say on the way your children’s school looks and operates. The Israeli schools have a lot to learn from schools overseas and this is where your input can make the lives of the students and the teachers a lot better. Get involved and make sure the candidates know that you care about the schools and that you expect them to improve. Make sure that the candidates offer programs for students that are new Olim, which address their academic, language, and social challenges.

Elderly: A large number of Olim are elderly people. Make sure the candidates take them in to accounts. These are people with great life stories. Make sure candidates offer to put in place different employment and volunteering programs so these amazing people feel the respect that they deserve, and live with dignity. I have some ideas and I’ll be happy to share them ona different occasion.

Olim in Need: Not all Olim are the same and some need even more attention than other. Make sure the candidates know this, and have in place special programs to address this weaker group of people. Some have past problems that they brought with them, some developed issues as a result of their Aliya process (new country, new language, financial issues, employment etc.). When going to elections also think about these people and how the candidates plan to help them.

Programs for the Youth: Israel has a few very impressive Zionist youth movements, like: Bnei Akiva, Hatzofim, Hanoar Haoved Ve Halomed, Ezra and more. It seems that the majority of the Olim kids do not join these very important organizations. This is a great lose for the Olim kids, for the city and for society at large. Make sure the candidates commit themselves to this easy to achieve cause.

Community Building: Did any one of you ever spend a Shabbat alone? or a Rosh Hashana alone? it can be hard some times for anyone and especially to the new Olim. And this is relevant to individuals and to families. New Olim left all their lives and families and friends behind. They come to Israel, the promised land, and the spend Shabbat or the holidays completely alone. This is true for young people and for older people. This can change. And this NEEDS to change. Make sure your candidates offer programs that will help new Olim have the ability and the motivation be a part, and to build new social communities. These communities will provide everything a community can provide but mostly a hand and friendship, cultural activities, and Shabbat and holiday activities.

Connecting the Olim with Everybody: Make sure the candidates offer programs that are will connect the new Olim with the Israeli born. At the end we are all either Olim or sons and daughters of Olim. We can, and should have a better connection.

All of the above are examples of things the Olim can demand from the different candidates in these upcoming elections.  I know for a fact that in some places, the new Olim have decided that they do not need favors from anyone, and they decided to establish political municipal parties that focus on the issues more relevant to the Olim, connecting them closer with the city and connecting the city closer with them. This is what it means to take action. Behatzlacha!

Discloser: Shahar Alon, is a part of a new party running for municipal elections in Tel Aviv called “Olim Beyachad Tel Aviv”. He is #12 on the party’s list. Olim Beyachad Tel Aviv was established by the community leaders of Olim from different countries (France, Russia, USA, Germany, and more), and is running for the Tel Aviv City Council. 

Shahar Alon:  shaharalon@gmail.com

About the Author
Shahar Alon works as an attorney at Checkmarx, an Israeli cyber security company. He is a member of the Israel and the New York Bar associations. In the past, he worked at the Israeli consulate in New York, and was a part of the Economy Mission. Also in the past, he has worked at the Legal Department of the Knesset. In his life, he lived for a year or more in Canada, the USA, in Venezuela, and in Hong Kong.
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