An open letter to heads of the political parties

We have heard of attaining the target of 250,000 new olim in five years. This is an enormous but welcome task. We can assist in navigating the hurdles and meeting this challenge.

North American olim arrive in Israel on a Nefesh B'Nefesh flight (photo credit: FLASH90)
North American olim arrive in Israel on a Nefesh B'Nefesh flight
(photo credit: FLASH90)
Dear leaders of political parties in Israel,
After many years of frustration at the system and how Anglos, English-speakers in Israel, have their issues largely ignored, we decided to create The Anglo Vision.
The Anglo Vision, founded last February, is a broad and unprecedented attempt to coalesce the English-speaking community in Israel, numbering some 300,000 citizens, around issues of importance to us.
To fully understand the community, in September, we conducted the first in-depth poll undertaken by an international pollster to answer the question of what English-speakers in Israel want.
Firstly, and importantly, the results show that we do consider ourselves a community, as the poll found that three-quarters said they identify as part of the Anglo or English-speaking community.
Over half of English-speaking Israelis think the community should be organized in a manner similar to the Russian-speaking, Ethiopian or Druze communities in order to promote policies that benefit their communities and Israeli society as a whole.
This means that Anglos want to be heard and are ready to vote as a significant bloc for any party that is responsive to their needs. They want to play a role in Israeli politics and contribute to the country and its people.
Our poll showed that Anglos vote more on issues and policy, rather than ideology, meaning that although Anglos come from across the political spectrum, they will vote for parties that care about what they care about regardless of their position on issues of diplomacy or security.
Making aliyah a national priority, making the political system more representative with greater accountability, career training and professional integration for new immigrants, absorption counseling, fighting BDS and having a small number of Sundays off throughout a calendar year are just some of the issues that Anglos would like to see taken seriously during this election campaign in the manifestos of the various political parties from across the spectrum.
These and other issues are related to our collective experiences, and we strongly believe we can put them toward serving and contributing to our country at the decision-making level.
We made aliyah and have been integrated into this great country, so we have advice about how to better refine the system and raise the numbers of those who would follow us to the Jewish state and lower the numbers of those who sadly return to their countries of origin.
We have heard of attaining the target of 250,000 new olim in five years. This is an enormous but welcome task. We can assist in navigating the hurdles and meeting this challenge.
We have experience of more representative and directly accountable political systems, and we would like to share this with our new home in order for us to escape from our current political paralysis.
We recommend the mixed-member proportional representation electoral system, used in countries such as Germany and New Zealand, meaning that the voter will cast two ballots, one for a representative for a single-seat constituency, and another for a party list. This is a compromise between our current high level of political representation, and making the country more governable.
In the debate about whether there should be a Sunday off in Israel, many have argued for or against, but few have mentioned a middle ground. In the US, there are a series of public holidays, like Memorial and Labor Day; and in the UK, there are around eight “Bank Holidays” throughout the calendar year, which are paid days off. These days are held on Mondays, forming a longer weekend.
The State of Israel could assign six to eight extra paid Sundays off a year to the calendar so Israelis could enjoy a series of longer weekends throughout the year without it being a burden on the economy.
THESE ARE a small smattering of issues of importance to Anglos from across the political spectrum, and each one would contribute toward Israel’s progress and development.
Nevertheless, these issues need to be heard, and for that we need to have a seat at the table.
The poll and our regular conversations and meetings have amply demonstrated that Anglo-Israelis do not want a token English-speaker low down on a party list, merely to tick a box and attend debates, but someone who knows what Anglos want and will represent these issues in the Knesset and before the government.
While countless individual Anglos have made significant contributions to the State of Israel throughout the decades, this is the first time that Anglos have come together to say to you, our political leaders, that we want to play a role and contribute as a community, like others that have achieved important things for this country.
We would like to humbly request that you include some of our community’s issues on the agenda of your parties, and place an Anglo-Israeli who understands our needs and challenges in a realistic position on your party slates for the next elections, who would be able to implement them.
This would not only engage one of the fastest-growing communities in Israel in the political system, but it would also send a strong message to potential olim that when they arrive in Israel they do not need to sit on the sidelines and can become a force for good in Israel’s politics.
The writer is founder of The Anglo Vision. A similar letter was officially sent to all leaders of Israel’s political parties. You can reach him at [email protected]