In the UK, from where I made aliyah in 2020, there is a ‘constituency’ system of voting. The population of 65 million is split into 650, roughly equal, constituencies of about 100,000 people each of which just over two thirds are eligible to vote, hence an average of about 70,000 voters. The member of parliament (MP) who is elected is supposed to represent all residents in his/her constituency, irrespective of whether they voted for him/her or not.
It is common practice to write to one’s MP about a subject of concern and, although it might take some time, one can always expect a response. I have a file of correspondence with my former MP and I even wrote to the Prime Minister (PM) on several occasions. Although the signature on the reply was not that of the PM, there was always a reply which may have started with something like: “The Prime Minister thanks you for your letter and has asked me to respond on his/her behalf.”
In Israel, with a population of about 10 million and 120 members of the Knesset (MKs), that equates to about 83,000 citizens per MK and which perhaps results also in about 70,000 eligible voters per MK. So far, a similar situation to the UK. However, that is where the similarity ends because, in Israel, a voter does not have an individual MK who represents him/her and to whom he/she can correspond and, as a result, there is no accountability. All one can do, therefore, is to find the correspondence address of an MK and write to them at the Knesset. The problem is that the MK ignores the citizen and simply does not respond. I guess that they say something like “I don’t represent that individual so why should I reply?” So, who represents us?
I have experienced this very situation, recently. Following some controversial remarks by a United Torah Judaism MK, Yitzhaak Pindrus, I found his email address on the Knesset website and wrote to him. I would term my letter as a request asking for a meeting to discuss the MK’s views. In my letter, I set out some points asking for explanations. No response. After a couple of weeks, I wrote to him again asking, politely, if he had had the chance to read my letter. No response.
So, I wondered whether an open letter to the MK might not be more successful in eliciting a response. Let’s see. Set out below is the letter I addressed to him.
Dear Mr. Pindrus,
Greetings. My name is Laurence Seeff and, together with my wife Sara, I made Alyah from the United Kingdom, in November 2020. Although my Ivrit is improving, I regret that it is not of a standard to write letters to MKs. I have noticed from your biography that your parents are American and you are fluent in English so, I hope that it was reasonable to write to you in English.
You probably know that in the United Kingdom, members of parliament (MPs) represent constituencies. Residents of a constituency can communicate with their MP on all manner of subjects and the MP will always respond. Here in Israel, we do not have a constituency system so, I am writing directly to you at the Knesset.
My wife and I would like to meet with you at the Knesset to try to better understand some of your thinking. This is because we are struggling to comprehend how an educated person, a man with military and political experience, a member of the Knesset can hold the views you do on certain issues.
I read that you have said that not only would you ban the Gay Pride marches but would try to disband the entire movement. I have read that you believe that the LGBTQ community is more dangerous to Israel than terrorism. You have said that the LGBTQ movement is more dangerous than ISIS and Hezbollah. Really?
There are many definitions of terrorism as used in different jurisdictions but a common one is “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”. I struggle to see how the LGBTQ movement engages in the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims. On the contrary, in the past, the movement and its members have more likely been the target of such activity rather than the perpetrators. I could cite multiple examples of where they have been a target but I can’t think of any where they have been the perpetrators.
ISIS has repeatedly targeted Jews in terrorist attacks and incited against Jews in its propaganda. Anti-semitism and the belief that Jews are engaged in a war against Islam has been central to Islamist thought since its inception. Whilst it may not specifically target Israel itself, if it targets Jews and that 75% of Israel’s population is Jewish, then it surely represents an existential threat to Israel. Please point out to me where the LGBTQ movement states that it targets Jews and hence represents an existential threat to Israel.
Hezbollah has openly called for the annihilation of Israel. In its 1985 manifesto it reportedly states “our struggle will end only when this entity (Israel) is obliterated”. Please point out to me where the LGBTQ movement states that it is seeking the obliteration of Israel.
I am far from someone who has any sympathy for rioting Palestinians in the West Bank but, equally, I can only condemn rioting settlers whose activities fit into the definition of terrorism. Please point out to me where the LGBTQ movement, or its members, has carried out activity of this nature.
We have always believed (and for now, at least, still do) that Israel is a modern, multi-cultural, democratic country which encourages a very wide range of ideas and thought. It is a country that believes in free speech, a free press and hopefully an independent judiciary. The idea of banning the right to march; banning an entire movement and making highly-charged claims about a cross section of the community goes against the notion contained in the description of Israel, above.
We would like to know what you think gives you the right to make outrageous claims about a particular movement; we would like to know, as a man of religion, why you seem to bare such hatred for a particular section of God’s creation; we would like to know how you think such rhetoric will help to bring unity and harmony to Israeli society.
It is for all the above reasons that we would welcome a meeting with you to better understand your thinking.
We will of course be quite willing to meet you in Jerusalem so please indicate when and where might be best.