The Israel Democracy Institute announced Wednesday that former Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner will be the Jerusalem institution’s new president, replacing founder Dr. Arye Carmon.
Carmon, who founded IDI 22 years ago, said he decided to step down in order to ensure the future of the institute and pave the way for a new generation of leadership.
Plesner, 42, was chosen by a search committee and approved by the IDI’s board of directors.
“The committee focused on identifying an outstanding leader who could build on the academic strengths of IDI and deepen the organization’s impact on Israeli society in collaboration with senior decision-makers in the public, business, academic and political arenas,” the institute’s spokesman said. “After evaluating a number of highly qualified candidates, the committee concluded that Plesner was best qualified to lead IDI and hone its capacity to convert the highest quality research into practicable policy solutions.”
Carmon expressed his confidence that the appointment of Plesner – who served as his personal assistant in the 1990s and observed the institute’s early growth firsthand – would bring both continuity and new energy to the position.
“I brought IDI forward as far as I could,” he said. “The appointment of Yohanan Plesner as president is not only a breath of fresh air that promises to reinvigorate IDI, it also signals a generational shift in the leadership of the Institute.”
Carmon said he intends to stay on at IDI and focus on research.
Plesner was next in line on the Kadima list to join the Knesset. He said he would resign from the list and the party to take his new position.
Former MKs Ronit Tirosh and Shai Hermesh are on the list after him.
A native of England who made aliya as a child with his family, Plesner served in the elite IDF special forces unit, Sayeret Matkal. He has degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In the last Knesset, he headed a shortlived committee that tried unsuccessfully to pass a conscription bill for haredim (ultra-Orthodox).
Plesner said Wednesday night that he was looking forward to taking on the job. He vowed to continue Carmon’s path.
“Under Carmon’s visionary leadership, the IDI has become an influential and integral part of public life in Israel – thanks to the outstanding research produced by the institute’s excellent, professional team and the organization’s unique ability to identify and advance reforms in the core areas of Israeli society,” he said.