Questionnaire: Speaking out for social empowerment

Ron Melamed, deputy director of YEDID, is no stranger to speaking out for social empowerment.

Ran Melamed 521 (photo credit: courtesy)
Ran Melamed 521
(photo credit: courtesy)
Ran Melamed
Age: 50
Profession: Deputy Director, YEDID -- The Association for Community Empowerment
Place of birth: Jerusalem
Current residence: Jerusalem
■ What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Believing I can do something good for someone, both individual and the group.
■ What keeps you up at night?
My fibromyalgia! Seriously – the fear that I didn’t do all I was supposed to, and the silence of night that makes it a good time for creative dreams.
■ What’s the most difficult professional moment you’ve faced so far? Having to deal with the financial crisis that is affecting all non-profits. It started in the summer of 2008. With money from the US fading we needed to do something rather fast as so many NGOs are just collapsing. We formed a coalition that demanded that the government help the third sector just as it began supporting the second one.
It worked, and by March 2009, after the election, we managed to get our demand into the coalition agreement between the Likud and Labor parties – 200 million NIS for two years.
■ How do you celebrate your achievements?
Just shouting over the office – we did it! And then posting the good news on our website.
■ If you were prime minister, what’s the first thing you would do?
Replace the economic agenda and if necessary replace the public servants who can’t cope with the new agenda.
I believe Israel needs a social democratic economy instead of pure capitalism. That is the only way we can narrow social economic gaps that are destroying Israeli society.
I believe that by changing the agenda and replacing some civil servants we can strive for much more solidarity, respect and understanding of one another’s needs, making it possible for every citizen to receive a decent income.
■ Which Israeli should have a movie made about him/her?
Sari Revkin, general manager of YEDID. She is the modern Shulamit Aloni – fighting for justice from an early age in Brooklyn and then as the only white community social worker in Baltimore. Revkin brings with her a smile and a seriousness with hope and belief that things can be better.
■ What would you change about Israelis if you could?
Their chutzpa, and I would teach them to be more civilized.
■ iPad, BlackBerry or pen and paper?
BlackBerry and PlayBook.
■ If you had to write an advertisement to entice tourists to come to Israel, what would it say?
“The place where everything can happen.”
■ What is the most serious problem facing the country?
Economic gaps between rich and poor and the destruction of the middle class.
■ How can it be solved?
Changing the government’s economic policy.
■ In 20 years, the country will be:
Two countries for two nations – and the Israeli one will be more socially democratic!