The moderate path of Darkenu

Bronstein explains: “We are not partisan at all. We don’t identify with any side in Israeli politics. We are trying to promote values.”

By ALAN ROSENBAUM
April 4, 2019 11:41
3 minute read.

Polly Bronstein, executive director of Dakenu. (photo credit: DARKENU)

Polly Bronstein, executive director of Darkenu, wants to mobilize what she calls “the moderate majority of Israel” to prevent extremists on both sides from taking over the public and political discourse.

Bronstein, who previously served as head of the Jewish Agency delegation in Britain, heads the Tel Aviv-based nonprofit organization, which wants to reclaim Israeli politics with a sense of moderation and pragmatism.

She explains that Darkenu (Hebrew for ‘Our Way’) is neither a right-wing nor a left-wing political organization. Rather, she says, “Moderates from both Left and Right need to start working together to present a coalition of moderates that represents the majority of Israelis and is not hostage to small groups.”

She feels that this can be practically implemented in the political negotiations that will follow the election. “Whoever creates the next coalition, whether it is Netanyahu or Gantz, has an option. The winner can create a narrow coalition that represents half the country, or can reach out to the other side and invite surprising partners.”

After the election, Bronstein says, Darkenu will pressure the winner to build a wider and more representative coalition.
She thinks that practical and moderate solutions can be found for most of Israel’s problems, if the left and right sides of the political spectrum can meet in the center. She recognizes that moderating and tempering the Israeli political discourse is an uphill climb that will take many years, but she says that more and more Israelis are pushing back against divisiveness in Israeli society. She says that while politicians are much more comfortable using division within society for their own purposes, the public is reacting positively to Darkenu’s unifying message.

Bronstein says that while Darkenu attempts to foster a unifying spirit within Israeli society, “there are very extreme forces on all sides that are organized and well budgeted and setting the tone. You see politics of hatred and delegitimization and incitement.”
She says that most Israelis – on both sides of the political divide – don’t like the politics of hate. “Most Israelis don’t like it when you speak badly of gays or settlers or haredim or Druze. People are offended by that kind of politics. Most people are pragmatic and moderate and want to live together,” she says.

As an example of how Darkenu has attempted to unify the public, she cites the organization’s efforts to have speakers from both Left and Right at the rallies held to mark the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

“We were attacked by the Left for taking one of their symbolic days and insisting that representatives and politicians from the Right had to be there. It was clearly a political murder and needs to be something that moderates from all sides and sectors need to speak against, together, instead of it belonging only to the Left.”

Bronstein explains that Darkenu “is looking for moderate partners in all groups of society” from across the country, including settlements, towns in the periphery, and cities with large haredi and Arab populations. “We are not partisan at all. We don’t identify with any side in Israeli politics. We are trying to promote values.”

Bronstein notes that while Darkenu has a database of over 300,000 people and 150,000 Facebook followers, the organization “is very old-fashioned. We go door-to-door to get new members. Darkenu Youth is very active, and we stand in the streets and malls and speak with people. We try to focus on the average Israeli.”

In the course of her career, Bronstein worked for many years helping to improve relations between Israel and the Diaspora. She says that “while the idea of putting an emphasis on Israeli society is a new thing for me, I am doing it because I feel that the challenge today is no longer in the Diaspora. I feel that our Israeli society is in great danger.”

This article was written in cooperation with Darkenu.


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