Dor aims for 20 mandates for country’s million seniors

New pensioners party holds founding event in Tel Aviv.

May 17, 2010 22:34
3 minute read.
Rafi Eitan 88 298

Rafi Eitan 88 298. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Sporting a new name, but under similar leadership, the pensioners party formerly known as Gil but now called Dor held its founding convention in Tel Aviv on Monday with 200 people in attendance.

After announcing his intention to form a new party at a Tel Aviv press conference last Wednesday, party chairman Rafi Eitan opened the convention’s deliberations by stating the party’s goals for the next elections: “20 mandates for Israel’s million seniors.”

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Eitan sees Israel’s demographics working in the party’s favor. With life expectancies rising, goes the reasoning, more people will be concerned with pensioners issues for longer.

“There is a gradual increase in life expectancy in Israel and the Western world. Children born here after 2000 are expected to live to the age of 100, on average. When I was born [1926], the average life expectancy was 60. Today, the life expectancy is 80. At the same time, there is a significant drop in the number of average children per family,” said Eitan.

“In the future, the social structure will be made up of one-third minors, one-third pensioners and one-third people in the workforce,” he continued. “Who will support two-thirds of the population? Is the state ready for old age? Is the government doing anything about it? To my regret, the answer is no.”

Despite failing to meet the electoral threshold in the last elections in 2009, Eitan and his party hope to recapture the success of the 2006 elections, when the then-new Gil Pensioners Party won a surprising seven Knesset seats and negotiated its way to two cabinet postings and the formation of the Pensioners Affairs Ministry.

In his address at the convention, Eitan acknowledged the 2009 failure, but said he and a core group of party activists still identified a public need for pensioners leadership and saw the formation of a new party as a calling.

“I do not seek honor and power, but I understood that if I left, there would be serious doubt of the party’s continued existence, so I responded to the movement’s wishes,” said Eitan.

Eitan said the party would primarily look after the interests of Israel’s aging population, but it would also work for the benefit of Israeli society as a whole.

“Pensioners today and in the foreseeable future are a force, and with proper organization and in an imaginative government, can double the strength of the economy, the strength of thought and the creativity of the nation,” said Eitan.

Moshe Sanbar, a former Bank of Israel governor, also spoke at the convention and urged the pensioners to utilize their main resource – time – for the benefit of society.

“Demanding is easy, but it’s also vital to give back. The main thing we can provide is our ability to volunteer,” said Sanbar. “Volunteering is beneficial to all sides. The receiver benefits from the help. The volunteer benefits from the experience and the activity, and the state benefits from the cheap labor.”

Sanbar said the main challenge in volunteering was organizational and suggested that the primary function of the party director-general be structuring volunteering operations.

“In order to reach goals, people need to cooperate. I don’t say ‘unite,’ because some understand that as relinquishing their ego, but cooperation means helping and agreeing to be helped when necessary. All it takes is putting egos aside,” he said.

The seven MKs of the now-defunct Gil party sparred bitterly throughout their three years in the Knesset, and three MKs at one point tried unsuccessfully to break off. Pundits at the time blamed the collapse of the party in the 2009 elections on the leaders’ inability to work together.

At the convention, the delegates, activists and representatives of pensioner movements across the country authorized the new party’s 12 basic principles and voted for its temporary leaders and its new name.

The chosen name, Dor, means “generation” in Hebrew. Its expected campaign slogan is “Dor holech vedor ba,” part of a quote from the book of Ecclesiastes that means, “One generation passes away, and another generation comes.”

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