Questionnaire: Champion of equal opportunity

After 15 years as head of Emek Hefer’s municipal council, Nachum Itzkovitz was appointed director-general of the Tourism Ministry in 2006.

Nachum Itzkovitz_521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Nachum Itzkovitz_521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
After 15 years as head of Emek Hefer’s municipal council, Nachum Itzkovitz turned his hand to government matters and was appointed director-general of the Tourism Ministry in 2006, when Labor MK Isaac Herzog took over as minister. When Herzog moved to the Welfare and Social Services Ministry, Itzkovitz followed him and, in the past four years, has tackled poverty and the rights of women and Holocaust survivors with great success. When Herzog stepped down as minister earlier this year, Itzkovitz continued in his role.
Nachum ItzkovitzAge: 60Profession/title: Director-general, Welfare and Social Services MinistryPlace of birth: AfulaCurrent residence: Moshav Ometz, Emek Hefer
What gets you out of bed in the morning?

My alarm clock.
But seriously – the knowledge that there are important issues regarding Israel’s society that need to be addressed and promoted, especially social and welfare issues, and of course matters concerning family, community and friends.
What keeps you up at night?
Thinking of the people that have approached me with a problem to which I couldn’t find a satisfactory solution, from their – or my – point of view. Also, complex issues on my desk that have not yet been resolved, such as the social workers’ salaries.
What’s the most difficult professional moment you’ve faced so far?
There is no such single moment. There is an accumulation of many difficult moments – those moments in which there is a gap between what I believe to be the right thing to do, and the limited resources at my disposal. At times, external authorities that could be of help, especially in the Finance Ministry and other ministries that work together with us, think otherwise, interfere in a way that I don’t agree with and make me wonder why things can’t be done differently.
How do you celebrate your achievements?
I do not celebrate my achievements. On the other hand, in those moments that are considered accomplishments, I am filled with a sense of satisfaction and am given the strength to continue.
If you were prime minister, what’s the first thing you would do?
As I do not wish to be prime minister, the question is irrelevant as far as I am concerned.
Which Israeli should have a movie made about him?
About the president, Mr. Shimon Peres! He is a man of dreams, a man of vision and a man of action. His way of life and many accomplishments are worth more than one movie.
What would you change about Israelis if you could?
I would change one thing about Israelis – I would like us to have a little more patience and tolerance toward others.
BlackBerry or pen and paper?
The iPhone! Neither BlackBerry nor pen and paper.
If you had to write an advertisement to entice tourists to come to Israel, what would it say?
“Land of Milk and Honey” – a land which on one hand has a unique, incredible history, a history connected to the roots of almost every religion and country on the globe, while on the other hand it is a modern, innovative, hi-tech country, inhabited by creative, congenial people. Land of the Bible and of hi-tech, of agriculture and of tolerance.
The most serious problem facing the country is:
The most significant strategic problem in my eyes is poverty and social gaps. The answer to this problem is a constitutional law with perennial social arrangements, and together with it, a national social treaty focused on fighting poverty and minimizing social gaps.
How can it be solved?
Since the destruction of the Holy Temple (some 2,000 years ago), prophecy has been transferred from the prophets to the meek of mind; hence, I cannot prophecy... I would like to see a country which has succeeded in creating peace with its neighbors and guaranteeing our continued existence in the area for generations to come. I would like to see a country that respects the other, the unusual, a country in which social gaps and poverty are reduced, a country that offers true equal opportunities to every single person.