Jewish Journal

Podcast: Knesset members discuss electoral reform in Israel

by Karmel Melamed

March 30, 2008 | 3:53 pm

On March 24th three members of the Israeli parliament held a press conference at the Beverly Hills offices of the Citizens Empowerment Center in Israel (CECI) a non-profit organization advocating electoral reform in Israel. One influential Knesset Member and Chairman of the Internal Affairs Committee, Ophir Pines-Paz was at hand to discuss new legislation he recently introduced in the Knesset on this very topic. His new bill is designed to create greater stability in future Israeli governments by having Israeli citizens vote directly for their representatives that will be directly accountable to them. Currently Israel’s governments are held together by coalitions of both small and large parties. If any faction is unhappy with the direction of the government, they can essentially bring the government down and call for new elections.

Also at hand in the press conference to discuss the need for electoral reform in Israel were Members of Knesset Yoel Hasson and Nadia Hilou. The purpose of the gathering was to inform the Jewish community here in Los Angeles about this new legislation that can potentially transform the landscape of Israeli politics.

CECI was founded by the very successful Iranian Jewish businessman and philanthropist, Parviz Nazarian. CECI is based in Israel and was established nearly four years ago with the objective of promoting more stable and effective governments in Israel through education as well as advocacy of the Israeli public. CECI is advocating for a change in the system of government in Israel where direct elections would be held for individual lawmakers in parliament rather than the current system where the public votes for a political party that later appoints representatives. Their belief is that such elections would create greater stability in the Israeli government and greater accountability of the elected officials to their constiutency. It gives me as an Iranian American Jew, great pride to see influential forces within our community such as Nazarian taking proactive steps to not only to support Israel financially but also in other facets. His organization is yet another example of the Zionism and the remarkable contributions Iranian Jews in America are making to Israel—a historical achievement considering the fact that only a few generations ago, Jews lived in ghettos and extreme poverty in Iran!

I had a chance to chat with Pines-Paz, Hasson, and Nazarian about this new legislation and the substantial support of Iranian Jews for Israel. My podcast interview with them can be heard here.

Here are some photos from that press conference…

(Knesset Member Ophir Pines-Paz)

(Knesset Member Yoel Hasson)

(Knesset Member Nadia Hilou)

(left to right; Nadia Hilou, Ophir Pines-Paz, CECI Founder Parviz Nazarian, and Yoel Hasson)

(CECI Executive Director Mrs. Dora Kadisha)

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Karmel Melamed is an internationally-published freelance journalist based in Southern California.

Since 2000, Melamed has specialized in covering the growing influential...

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