Despite their being relatively new to the country, new immigrants are about to get a chance to influence Israeli decision-makers and the general public through the work of The Institute for Zionist Strategy (IZS), a Jerusalem-based think tank which plans to include them in its work.
The two-year-old organization concerns itself with all matters regarding the continuity of Israel as the Jewish state, and has focused its energies on the drafting of a constitution. The IZS also focuses on broader issues like strategic issues, demographic dangers and fostering leadership.
In an effort to give the newcomers easier access to this important national debate, which is often hard for them due to language or social barriers, the institute has initiated a program to help such immigrants participate.
"New immigrants are very concerned with the situation, but they are not involved because they didn't serve in the army and they aren't involved in the establishment, and we want to give the insight," said Israel Harel, the organization's chairman.
Harel envisions this as a permanent group meeting every four or five weeks to discuss topics of national interest. "We feel that this is a time when such discussions and awareness are a matter of national existence," said Harel.
He suggested that often the English-speaking community takes national issues more seriously than Israelis, and envisioned that once they have a platform for getting more involved, they will be able to express their views on national issues.
The first meeting of the group will take place Wednesday in the succa of one of the members. Moshe Arens, chairman of the National Security Forum for the IZS and a former defense minister, foreign minister and ambassador to the US, along with former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon will address the group. The session will focus on the national lessons of the recent war in Lebanon.