Category Archives: Politics

Election season underway

Tonight, 18 October, the Green Movement held its first activist meeting in Tel Aviv.  Check in at this site, join the Green Movement facebook site, or check in at the main party site to see how you can help.  More soon.

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Meet Racheli Tidhar-Caner, co-chair of the Israel Green Movement

 

Racheli Tidhar-Caner was recently voted co-chair of the Israel Green Movement, alongside co-chair Alon Tal.

Co-Chairperson Racheli Tidhar-Caner

For those in the environmental movement, Racheli is a familiar face. Not only is she a founding member of the Israel Green Movement, she has participated (and led) many of Israel’s most prominent environmental campaigns. Chief among them are the campaigns to improve public transportation, protect Red Sea coral reefs from fish farms, preserve the Jerusalem Forests, improve air quality in Haifa Bay, protect the Nitzanim coast from development, and prevent construction of new coal-fired energy plants. Further, she has been active in promoting legislation in Knesset for recycling, clean air and coastline protection. Racheli volunteered, worked and was a member of the governing council of the student environmental organization, Green Course.

Racheli is trained as strategic advisor for social and environmental change, working with a broad variety of social and environmental organizations. She serves as chairwoman of Re’em Association, a volunteer organization advocating for anthroposophic (Waldorf) education in Rehovot, and is a project manager for the Shatil environmental justice program. She has consulted for women’s rights, educational, and accessibility organizations, and assists communities to increase public participation in local government. Her latest writing on strengthening the role of women in politics (in Hebrew) is available here.

Racheli holds a dual bachelor’s degree in geography and Hebrew literature from Ben Gurion University of the Negev and a Master’s degree in organizational behavior from the New York Polytechnic University (Israel branch). She is a graduate of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and was a member of the Moshav Movement’s Garin Oded. She is married to Niv, and mother to Ayelet, Neta and Omri.

Green Movement – the Next Generation

If you weren’t among the 180 party members voting on the new leadership list last week… Or if you haven’t been following the drama around the appointment of Israel’s new Chief of Staff… Or if you are unaware that there is – for the first time – a party in Israel that guarantees equal representation of men and women… Then you are not following the most optimistic signs of life in an otherwise dismal political scene in Israel.

Green Movement Members Vote

First and foremost, party members meeting last week approved a policy that the Israel Green Movement will be led by one female and one male leader.  The model, introduced by the German Green Party and approved overwhelmingly by the party membership, aims to facilitate the advancement of women into the political system.  The Green Movement doesn’t just talk about equal representation, we act.

The new leadership will be led by long-time Green Movement activist and leader Racheli Tidhar-Caner, alongside Professor Alon Tal.  The leadership team is rounded out with party founder Eran Ben Yemini, Professor and Tel Aviv city councilman Noah Efron, executive director of the Israel Energy Forum Yael Cohen-ParanAvi Dabush (Coordinator of Shatil’s Environmental Justice program), Sagit Porat (Paths To Sustainability Coalition Coordinator), Ahmed Amrani (Director General of the Office of the Mayor of Rahat), and Dr. Sarit Oked (community and environmental activist in Arad).

The movement meeting followed closely behind the decision of the Israeli government to retract the appointment of Major General Yoav Galant to the post of Chief of Staff.  Their decision was a direct result of the Green Movement petition to the Supreme Court questioning the ethical behavior of Galant and the faulty process by which he was vetted for the position.

Chairperson Alon Tal

Chairperson Racheli Tidhar-Kaner

Post-election final ramblings…

n30053107768_79291Dear Green Movement-Meimad (התנועה הירוקה-מימד) friends, supporters, colleagues and interested readers.

The results have been counted.  The Israeli electorate has decided.  The Green Movement-Meimad will not be in the coming Knesset.  We took approximately 1% of the national vote – apparently the largest party that did not pass the minimum threshold into the Knesset.  The breakdown of the results by community can be found [in Hebrew] here, and more general results can be found [in English] here.

Election results from Ha'aretz.com

Election results from Ha'aretz.com

Some final post-election words of thanks and analysis from this volunteer blogmaster:

When I returned to Israel a year and a half ago after a period of study in the United States, I found a country dominated by two disturbing trends.  One was the increased friction between Israeli Jews and Arabs and the increase in hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians, and the continuing rise in consumerism and egoism (e.g. worrying exclusively about one’s own economic wellbeing) at the expense of a strong community identity and social welfare.  To “soften my landing” in Israel I sought out all of those individuals who were still committed to a progressive vision of a Jewish and democratic state, to tolerance and pluralism, to a state that took responsibility for the education, environment, health care and social services of its citizens.  I found that group of individuals – many came together in the Green Movement-Meimad.

To those individuals I want to say that it has been an honor and privilage to work with all of you.  The fire of optimism, idealism and activism was impressive and contagious.  In has been a pleasure to learn from the scholars and professionals who wrote the party’s vision and detailed platforms, as it was to canvass the streets to “spread the word” of the party.  It was inspiring to read up on the numerous bloggers who were thinking so carefully about their decisions, and then who decided to go with the Green Movement-Meimad.

Finally, it was refreshing to have so much faith in such a wonderful group of candidates.  I have no regrets due to the election results.  The combination of Judaism, ecology and social-democracy brought together in this party can and may yet form the basis for a new progressive vision in Israel.  And after the dismal performance of Meretz and Labor in this election, and the rise of both an ideologically vacuous center (Kadima) and a thuggish right (Israeli Beitenu), an alternative vision is needed now more than ever.

The Green Movement-Meimad offered a new vision to the Israeli public.  That vision captured the imagination of thousands of activists and tens of thousands of voters.  Party leaders and activists will surely be considering why we did not capture more votes in the coming weeks and months.

Some considerations will include:

1) Too little, too late? The Green Movement was established in the summer of 2008 and became a party only two months before the election.  Did this give us proper time to convey our message to the public?  We also operated on a tiny budget, so could not flood the public with our election propaganda.

2) Progressive politics are passé. Has a progressive Zionist vision for Israel become anachronistic?  Is the Israeli public interested in setting aside sectarian, religious, and political differences in the interest of building a better nation?  The stunning decline of the left (Meretz and Labor – together representing only 15-17 seats in the coming Knesset) may signal a failure to win the war of ideas among the Israeli public.  If so, the Green Movement-Meimad wouldn’t have stood a chance (This is also why I don’t accept the “splitting the vote” argument – our votes would have likely been split between a number of parties.  Our presence only enriched the political map – it didn’t “weaken the left”).

3) Politics of fear and hate. Are our seemingly intractable Israeli-Arab, Israeli-Palestinian and/or Israeli Jewish-Arab conflicts going to continue to drive people to the right – increasingly willing to sacrifice basic freedoms and equality in the face of increasingly violent and uncompromising enemies?  If so, the center (between Jewish and Arab extremism) will continue to decay.  The Green Movement-Meimad stood for unity, equality, coexistence, and pluralism.  Can these ideas flourish is an environment of extremism and conflict, where the two extremes seem to feed each other’s strength?

4) Capitalism steams on. Will the current economic crises strengthen or weaken the Israeli social welfare state, and which direction will Israel continue to take – that of the European social welfare state or the US model of free market/economic oligarchy?  Is the electorate against a social welfare state?  Considering that Shas, Yahadut HaTorah and Chadash all did reasonably well and all have strong social policies (though for very different reasons) suggests that the social welfare state is not dead and that Israelis still care about public transportation, health care, education, and social services.

5) Sustaina – who? Can we successful articulate to the Israeli public our vision of a socially/economically/environmentally sustainable Israel?  The fact that most voters could not differentiate between us and the Green Party means they couldn’t differentiate between a party with a broad social-environmental platform (us) and a party with a narrow, technocratic (barely) understanding of environmental issues .  Certainly more work to be done here.  But equally certain, wherever we managed to get the word out – through personal contact, home meetings and participation in panel discussions and lectures – we did quite well bringing in new voters.

These questions – and others – will need to be answered in order to understand if and how the Green Movement-Meimad can continue to function, improve civil society, educate, and – hopefully – run for the next elections.

With that, this blog will be going on a hiatus as this blogmaster has to return to his regular life and his paying job.  I will be approving comments for those who want to continue the conversation.  If there are Green Movement-Meimad supporters who are interested in running this blog in the meantime, please write me at daniel.orenstein – at – gmail.com.

Good luck and thank you for the opportunity to get this excited about politics.  We’ll be back.

Daniel.

Gershon Baskin’s efforts to secure Gilad Shalit’s release.

Bring Gilad Home

Bring Gilad Home

Today, while canvassing for the Green Movement-Meimad in Haifa, during the slow moments I would talk with the two high school students hired by Likud to promote their party.  The kids asked me to explain Likud’s platform, which I did.  Then they asked, what about Gilad Shalit.  I answered that on Gilad Shalit there is a consensus across the political spectrum – we all want him home as soon as possible.  Maybe there are disagreements regarding how much to “give up,” but everyone desparately wants him home.  I mentioned that one of our party members – Gershon Baskin – was involved in these efforts, but I didn’t know the details.  Today Gershon’s efforts are featured in a Haaretz article by Akiva Eldar.  We are proud to have Gershon with us and pray that his efforts and those of others pay off soon with the safe return of Gilad Shalit to his parents, family and country.

Yes, we can! The Green Movement-Meimad will pass the minimum threshold with your vote (ה), and those of some celebrity friends (see below)

Who is voting for the Green Movement – Meimad (תנועה הירוקה-מימד)?

Vote "ה" for התנועה הירוקה-מימד

Vote "ה" for התנועה הירוקה-מימד

According to a poll by “Ma’agar Mokhot”: 7% of Israelis will vote for the Green Movement-Meimad if they are confident the party will pass the minimum threshold.  This represents 8-9 seats in Knesset!  So don’t hesitate.  This will put Rabbi Michael Melchior, Eran Ben Yemini, Professor Alon Tal, Yonina Fallenberg, Iris Hahn, Dr. Hussein Tarabieh, Dr. Ariel Pikar and Yael Cohen-Paran (and maybe Leah Halperin)  into the next Knesset.

In mock elections at high schools across Israel, students found hope and vision in the Green Movement-Meimad:  7.1% from Ort High School in Holon; 5% from West Jezreel Valley High School; 21% (!) from Tschernokovski High School in Netanya; 4.4% from Mevo’ot Iron High School; 6% in Ostrovski High School in Raanana.

In mock elections at universities across Israel, students found a platform they can believe in with the Green Movement-Meimad: 12% and 16% (in two surveys) at Hebrew University; 4.2% at Ben Gurion University (5 mandates); 3.4% at Tel Aviv University; 2 mandates at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzlia.

An increasing number of public figures (aside from our extensive list of academic endorsements [in Hebrew] here) are expressing their support for the Green Movement-Meimad, including:

Kobi Oz (singer, author, composer), who writes his endorsement here (in Hebrew). My loose translation:  “I’m voting for the Green Movement-Meimad so there will be someone to protect this land and fight those who are destroying it.  Ya’ala – I’ll give them my vote and then they’ll pass the minimum threshold and go right to the center of activity – exactly where they belong”

Ehud Banai (singer and composer) – “I vote for the kind of values the Green Movement-Meimad represents.  It’s crucial that they are in the next Knesset.”

Riki Blich (actress and comedian) – “I know these people and I know they will represent public interests loyally and steadfastly in Knesset”

Natan Zach (Poet, Israel Prize Laureate) – according to this Friday’s Yediot Ahronot, disillusioned with all the political parties, but choosing between Green Movement-Meimad and an uninspiring Meretz.

Shai Avivi (Actor, Comedian, original member of HaChamisha HaKamrit) – “I know the people in the party – they are professionals, fighters (in the political sense), and serious.

Rino Tzror (Journalist) – “Only the Green Movement-Meimad is worthy of attention.”

Avri Gilad (Radio and TV host) – announced today on his popular radio program that he is voting Green Movement-Meimad.

Jackie Levy (Radio and TV host, and journalist) – “Vote for the Green Movement-Meimad as the only party that represents the connection between Judaism, society and ecology.  This is not a trend, but the result of a crucial process within Israel society.”

Tzur Shizaf (Journalist, author and nature guide) – “If someone needs to keep [Avigdor] Leiberman in check, the Green Movement/Meimad will be there; If someone needs to stop the runaway privatization of everything in our country, the Green Movement/Meimad will be there; If someone has to battle in favor of education, the Green Movement/Meimad will be there.”

Shlomo Bar (Musician, composer) – “The Green Movement-Meimad gives me hope for a society without sectoralism, without people with no content, without politicians.  We have enough generals who have complicated our lives here.  We need statesmen like Rabbi Melchior and not more wily politicians.

Haaretz journalist Ari Shavit calls the Green Movement-Meimad “the party to watch” during the elections.  His colleague at Haaretz, journalist Shachar Ilan writes – “Whoever votes for for the Green Movement-Meimad will be getting the best Knesset member for their vote.  Rabbi Michael Melchior was one of the best parliamentarians in the outgoing Knesset.”

Jerusalem deputy mayor Naomi Tzur and Jerusalem city council member Rachel Azaria took out a quarter page ad in Friday’s newspaper encouraging Israelis to vote Green Movement-Meimad.

On line bloggers are enthusiastically endorsing the Green Movement-Meimad.  According to a poll of influencial Hebrew blogs, 37% endorsed the Green Movement-Meimad.  Similarly, an increasing number of English language blogs in Israel and among Jews abroad are endorsing the party:

Haim Watzman at Southjerusalem.com.

Yannai Kranzler at the Jewish Climate Initiative.

Anna at Daily Dose of Anna.

Rebecca at The Big Felafel.

Professor Gil Troy at Jerusalem Post Blogs.

David at Israel21C Blogs and Brian Blum at Israel21C Blogs.

Josh Weinberg at the Houmous Fool.

RickyB at The Church of Here and Now (Salon.com blogs)

Benji Lovitt at What War Zone?

And don’t forget the more than 30 party supporters who sent in their reasons for supporting the Green Movement-Meimad (see previous post below).  And see the reputable Green Prophet blog for their comprehensive review of all of the parties’ environmental platforms here.  And finally, for Hebrew readers, read an interview with Green Movement-Meimad candidate  Samuel Chayen in last Friday’s Makor Rishon here (downloads a PDF of the interview).

This Tuesday vote for education, environment, social democracy.  Vote ‘for’ rather than ‘against’.  Vote for what Israel could be!

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Pre-election announcements!

Vote "ה" for התנועה הירוקה-מימד

Vote "ה" for התנועה הירוקה-מימד

1) Live in Beer Sheva/Omer/Lehavim/Meitar or the surrounding area and still want your chance to meet Green Movement-Meimad candidates?  Come to a parlour meeting at the home of Dr. Clive and Hani Lipchin in Meitar on Saturday Night (Motzei Shabbat, 7/2/09) at 19:00.  Speakers will be Professor Alon Tal and Dr. Sarit Oked.  For information, contact Clive via email:  Clivearava – at – gmail.com.

2) Want to contribute to the last second-to-last pre-election blog entry at greenerisrael.wordpress.com?  “100 supporters suggest 100 reasons to vote Green Movement-Meimad.” Please send me in a comment or email (Daniel.orenstein – at – gmail.com):

Your first name, your age, your place of residence, your occupation, and one reason why you think everyone should vote Green Movement-Meimad. (Put the reason most important to you.)

For example:

Daniel, 40, Haifa, Environmental policy researcher and teacher.  “Because our children deserve an excellent education and Rabbi Melchior has already proven that he can help make our educational system better.”  (This one is 100% true!  See the party Hebrew site under חינוך)

3) More on education, see Marie Orian’s analysis of Israel’s educational system as “popularity contest:”

These days, school administrators have become marketers; consumed with dialing for dollars and romancing donors. And the donors want to get behind feel-good projects they can identify with. Wealthier communities, especially those with connections in the USA, are acquiring the support they need for pet school projects. It’s not that these projects aren’t worthy, they are, but what becomes of other deserving groups lacking the connections to stir up donor sentiments?

The challenge is to create an equal educational opportunity for Israel’s youth across the board, especially raising the standard in disenfranchised communities; including new immigrants, Mizrachim, Religious Jews, Women, Arabs and Druze. This must be an ongoing effort, and not simply dependant on sporadic fits and starts of donor funds for the most ‘popularized’ projects.

More of her article is here.