How to choose who to vote for in Israel's elections - opinion

I want a Knesset member to work for me, to get my issues across, to take care of national business, to solve the problems that need solving.

I have been working in the nonprofit sector in Israel for more than 25 years, and I have also been working in hi-tech for most of this period as well.
My mentor, Danny Siegel, taught me years ago to look for the person, not the organization, not the business. He calls the right person a Mitzvah Hero, and he says find the Mitzvah Hero and you will know you have the right place.
I use this advice not just with nonprofits or hi-tech companies, but in politics as well. Simply put, I look for the mensch, a person of integrity and honor. As Maimonides wrote about someone responsible for a community tzedakah fund, look for the person who is “trustworthy and wise and behaves competently.”
I am not naive about Israeli politics, and I understand the multiparty circus and coalition system (well, as much as anyone can understand it!), knowing that if I find this gem, this mensch, he or she might be aligned with a party or coalition that clashes with some of my issues.
And so, one has to make some very hard decisions – do I vote for candidate X, knowing that he is part of the “other side”?
My guiding principle has been yes. If you believe in that person, and that person can do good and fight for the changes you want to see, then do it. I want a Knesset member to work for me, to get my issues across, to take care of national business, to solve the problems that need solving.
The biggest problem is finding this diamond in the rough – politics, after all, is filled with politicians.
FORTUNATELY, I have come across a superbly polished diamond, a real gem working for us in the Knesset, Michal Cotler-Wunsh. And while the following will sound like a paid political ad, please know that I have nothing to do with her party, her campaign, and do not even know if she is running again, but I want to use her as an example of what to look for in a candidate.
Cotler-Wunsh became an MK in June 2020, and in six months she has created 11 legislative proposals, including bills dealing with amending the penal code to affirmative consent in defining rape and to shift the burden away from the victim; canceling the law about double Social Security/National Insurance payments for immigrants who still have income from abroad; creating a law to give tax benefits for food donations; amend the national healthcare program so that your local HMO would be responsible for mental healthcare (currently it is the Health Ministry); prohibiting the production and sale of flavored smoking products; increasing the graphic warnings on smoking products; and advocating that Israel’s Declaration of Independence and Basic Laws would be the basis for a constitutional document.
I first encountered MK Cotler-Wunsh two months ago at a Knesset meeting of the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Committee. She is the chairwoman, and immediately created an atmosphere of teamwork and goal-setting with practical targets and time frames. She would not allow for long-winded speeches or irrelevant comments – only tachlis, the brass tacks. She was there to get a job done.
I was also part of a meeting for immigrant small business owners run by Cotler-Wunsh. She listened to our needs and went right to work to make changes and help solve the problems that were raised.
As an immigrant herself (from Canada – her father is Irwin Cotler, former Canadian justice minister and attorney-general), she has been chairing the Knesset subcommittee on Israel-Diaspora relations, and not only has been an advocate for immigrant rights, but, even more importantly, has made things easier for immigrants – for example, pushing for having translations of government documents and forms available online.
She has fought for Israel’s reputation around the world, as a foreign member of the European Parliament and the official Knesset liaison to the International Criminal Court. She is the co-founder of the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism and singlehandedly grilled the CEOs of Facebook and Twitter, forcing them to reconsider their policies and to put a halt to online antisemitism.
My point is simple – find the person who can accomplish so much (this was all in six months!). As Rabbi Elazar said, tzaddikim (those diamonds in the rough) say little and do much (Bava Metzia 87a).
The writer is a philanthropic consultant helping people and foundations from around the world give their tzedakah money away wisely, efficiently and effectively, for more than 25 years. He is also a very experienced social media and website guru, and enjoys mentoring olim.