Five parties brief olim on platforms

Speakers from 5 parties briefed attendees on peace, security, and the socioeconomic gap.

olim briefed 88 (photo credit: )
olim briefed 88
(photo credit: )
More than 100 immigrants crammed into the Yakar Center in the Katamon neighborhood of Jerusalem Tuesday night for a two-hour session on current politics entitled "Meet the Parties." The event, held in cooperation with the AACI, Nefesh B'Nefesh, Tehilla, UJIA and the South African Zionist Federation, gave five party representatives the opportunity to familiarize the predominantly Anglo crowd with their respective faction's policies for the upcoming election. One speaker each from Kadima, Likud, Labor, National Union and Meretz came to the event. They focused on issues such as prospects for peace and security and the widening socioeconomic gap. Event organizer Reuven Grossman, himself a new immigrant, told The Jerusalem Post that he was "disappointed" that Shinui and Shas had both declined to send anyone despite being invited to do so. Grossman had come up with the idea for a four-part educational series on Israeli politics after he realized that "it wasn't just me who didn't understand the system." However, Tuesday night's event was at times as confusing as it was enlightening and a number of people left feeling somewhat disillusioned. "Neither Kadima nor Likud even told us what they stand for," noted Anne Seham, 44, who moved to Israel from New York six years ago. Uri Bank, 37, chairman of the Moledet Party's executive board and ninth on the National Union list, declared, "We are the true Zionist alternative for those who believe that the Land of Israel belongs to the Children of Israel." Bank caused a stir by suggesting that Palestinian refugees be transferred to Jordan and other locations in the Middle East. Prof. Naomi Chazan, a former Meretz MK and former deputy speaker of the Knesset, replied, "Transfer is a racist notion and no Jewish state should lower itself to doing to others what has in the past been done to us." Guy Spigelman, 33, who is running for a slot in the Labor Party primaries, hailed Labor Party chairman Amir Peretz's "intelligent policies such as increasing the minimum wage." He asserted that the major issue of the day was not security or demographics but poverty. Gershon Parkoff, 63, who recently moved to Israel from New Jersey, disagreed, saying that politicians do not pay enough attention to the safety of Jews living in Gush Etzion. "What happened to the saying, 'All Jews are responsible for each other?'" he added.