72% of MKs don't respond to public, study finds

Labor, Yesh Atid most supportive parties, Shas, UTJ ignore all letters; Bayit Yehudi's Shaked, Yesh Atid's Levi most helpful MKs.

By
August 5, 2013 17:27
3 minute read.
Members of the 19th Knesset [file].

Knesset 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Uriel Sinai/Pool )

Nearly three-quarters of MKs do not respond to letters from the public, according to a study conducted during the Knesset’s summer session, which ended last week.

Avi Dubitzky, a paralegal from Tel Aviv, conducted an experiment in which he sent two letters to 120 MKs. In one, he pretended to be Salma, an Arab woman from Jaffa who works as a cleaner and did not receive her salary from her employer, a manpower company. In the other, he pretended to be Dvir, a Jewish student working as a waiter, who says his boss steals his tips.

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Dubitzky sent the 240 letters again after two weeks, and waited over two months to make sure that MKs had time to answer.

Within the two months, Dubitzky received responses from only 34 MKs or their aides. Dvir received 25 responses and Salma received 22, with 13 overlapping. A higher percentage of Labor MKs wrote back to Dubitzky than any other part. Although the results of his experiment first appeared on the Channel 2 News website, Dubitzky provided The Jerusalem Post with all of the emails he received from MKs.

“I don’t understand what MKs are doing all day in the Knesset,” Dubitzky said on Monday in regard to the low number of replies. “I’m very disappointed. In the US, members of Congress have full-time employees that respond to every letter, even if it’s about something silly. MKs should have that, too.”

Dubitzky received responses from 60 percent of Labor MKs, 53% of Yesh Atid, 50% of Meretz and Kadima, 40% of Hadash, 33% of Hatnua and 3% – one MK – of Likud Beytenu. No MKs from Shas or United Torah Judaism wrote back to Salma or Dvir.

The MKs who answered both letters are Miki Rosenthal (Labor), Stav Shaffir (Labor), Nachman Shai (Labor), Merav Michaeli (Labor), Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levi (Yesh Atid), Eitan Cabel (Labor), Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi), Zehava Gal-On (Meretz), Pnina Tamano-Shata (Yesh Atid), Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid), Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid) and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud Beytenu).

Arab MKs Hanna Swaid (Hadash), Masud Gnaim (United Arab List- Ta’al) and Esawi Frej (Meretz) only responded to Salma, as did Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett.

Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) only answered Dvir.

Two MKs, Shaked and Levi, were the most helpful, with their aides writing several response letters and following up with both Salma and Dvir. Katz and Peri pointed out that their ministries do not deal with Salma and Dvir’s problems, but directed Dubitzky to the relevant offices.

Dubitzky said that he never sent a letter to MKs for help, but that he conducted the experiment in an attempt to improve the way the Knesset works.

“I’m very creative, and I wanted to see what happens, because I never read a similar study. I wanted to see how open MKs are to the public,” he explained. “I didn’t know what kind of reaction to expect, but in the past, when I went to government offices, my feeling was that they didn’t work hard and only did what was easy. They didn’t want to expand their horizons.”

The paralegal also pointed out that in Salma’s case, several MKs referred to legislation meant to improve conditions for contract workers, but gave inconsistent answers.

“One said he’ll investigate, and another said there’s going to be a vote soon. It’s ridiculous. It’s like 120 people trying to make soup and using different recipes. That won’t come out as soup; that’ll turn into disgusting porridge,” he quipped.


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