New initiative to bring together Likud MKs with English-speaking immigrants in town hall meetings

Project to begin with Haskel, who revealed conflicts of interest to promote parliamentary transparency.

April 26, 2016 00:55
2 minute read.
MK Sharren Haskel (Likud)

MK Sharren Haskel (Likud). (photo credit: FACEBOOK)

 English-speaking Likud voters will soon have the chance to ask MKs their questions in a new project initiated by party activist and Jerusalem Post Magazine columnist Dan Illouz.

The first meeting between lawmaker and constituents will take place next month, with MK Sharren Haskel (Likud), who was born in Canada and went to college in Australia.

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Haskel said she feels very close to English and French-speaking immigrants, as her mother and other family members fall under that category.

“These immigrants aren’t familiar with the parliamentary system in Israel and don’t know how to influence [MKs]... to act for them,” Haskel explained.

“They’re used to a different political system.”

Haskel, who responded to the Post via email while on a speaking tour in North America and Australia, said that it is her mission to help new immigrants learn how they can have an impact on the political system in order to improve their lives.

The Likud MK also said she feels connected to English-speaking immigrants because of they come from countries with “a long history of individual freedoms and understanding of the government’s role vis-a-vis the public.

“The values of transparency and freedom of the individual that I am trying to promote through my position are at the basis of the democratic worldview,” she added.

Haskel took her interest of transparency towards her constituents a step further than most lawmakers this week, when she revealed her potential conflicts of interest.

On Sunday, she wrote on Facebook: “Like every person, I have family and close friends whom I love very much... Although I am committed to not having a conflict of interest in issues related to them, I believe transparency is an important value in public service.”

As such, she wrote that she has family or close friends who work for Strauss, the Arison Group, Israel Aerospace Industries, and Koach Laovdim, a trade union.

In addition, Haskel said she publishes her schedule every week, and her pay slip each month.

Haskel pointed out on Monday that she is a member of the Knesset’s Transparency Committee, headed by MK Stav Shaffir (Zionist Union) and she supports former Calcalist reporter Tomer Avital’s controversial parliamentary transparency project “100 Days of Transparency.”

“I believe in the importance of transparency to strengthen the public’s trust in its elected officials,” she stated. “We, the MKs, work for the public and must be accountable to them when it comes to our actions and our agenda.”

The “office hours” initiative will hold a monthly meeting between a Likud parliamentarian and 20 Anglo-Israelis, who will be chosen each month according to questions they submit in advance. Likud members will get priority in the selection process.

Illouz, who made aliya from Canada, said the idea behind the project is to get MKs in touch with their Anglo-Israeli constituents, who are used to living in a country with geographic representation.

“People come to Israel and are used to having a Congressman or MP who they can go to with their issues, and here they don’t know how it works.

I’m active in Likud and decided to use my platform to connect constituents to MKs,” Illouz explained.

Illouz added that he is beginning with the Likud lawmakers who speak English well, and in the long run will provide translation when necessary.

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