Ortal Shmueli: A wonderful candidate for Beersheba’s city council

While many people aspire to be elected to Beersheba’s city council, few of the candidates running in this election are as suited for the position as Ortal Shmueli.

Beersheva (photo credit: Travelujah)
(photo credit: Travelujah)
While many people aspire to be elected to Beersheba’s city council, few of the candidates running in this election are as suited for the position as Ortal Shmueli.
Although she is but 27 years of age, Shmueli is passionate, energetic, full of life, a strong Zionist, greatly devoted to Beersheba’s residents, and is quite experienced. Shmueli, who was born and raised in Beersheba, has been politically active since 2010, when she was a leader in the struggle against Prof. Neve Gordon’s anti-Israel stances while working on her bachelor’s degree in Israel Studies and serving as a councilwoman at Ben-Gurion University’s Student Union. Her pro-Israel activism at Ben- Gurion University was covered by numerous news agencies, ranging from Arutz Sheva to Vesti to Channel 2 to Yediot Hanegev.
Since that time, she has completed her BA in Israel Studies, worked in the office of former education minister Gideon Sa’ar, led the Likud’s volunteer campaign in southern Israel during the previous elections, and served in the Prime Minister’s Office as an assistant to deputy minister Ofir Akunis.
She is presently working on her masters in Israel Studies at BGU and is campaigning as part of the Ofek Beersheba Movement for city council.
“I left my job working for Ofir Akunis to bring fresh new atmosphere to young talented people in Beersheba,” she explained. Shmueli is running for office alongside David Bonfeld, who formerly served as the mayor of Beersheba, an adviser to Ariel Sharon before the Gaza withdrawal, deputy mayor to Yaakov Turner when he served as mayor of Beersheba, and as a Beersheba city council member. He resigned as city council member because the Interior Ministry asked him to rebuild Arara, and he is presently serving as the mayor of Arara until Election Day in October 2013.
According to Shmueli, “I come from a national political background. My experience working in the field of Israeli national politics will help me with my municipality background.”
She explained, “Most people start out local and then go national. For me, it is the reverse. I think this makes me more qualified than most of the people running.”
As a young candidate, Shmueli aspires to help increase the job prospects of Beersheba’s youth. She emphasizes, “I would like to see that young people who finish their academic education have a place to work. Not only in hi-tech and factories, but also in the humanities and the social sciences! I would like to see more jobs in Beersheba.”
Her plan for accomplishing this is to do more to involve young people in the Beersheba Municipality and to approach the government to offer financial incentives for non-governmental organizations, news agencies, advocacy groups and other employers to relocate to the Negev’s capital city. If elected to be a city councilwoman, Shmueli will be fully committed to promoting the prosperity of Beersheba.
In addition to helping Beersheba’s youth, Shmueli also seeks to assist new immigrants who have elected to make Beersheba their home.
“I think it is important to reach out to the English- speaking community here in Beersheba, as well as to other olim that come from a variety of different countries around the world. After all, we are of the same people and have the same interest to see Beersheba prosper. I would like to personally welcome all of the olim when they come to Beersheba.”
Shmueli supports giving new Jewish immigrants additional time to study in a government-funded ulpan, as well as offering students studying in Beersheba the opportunity to defer their governmentfunded ulpan until after they complete their studies.
(Presently, many students lose the ability to attend such ulpans because their eligibility expires while they are studying.) She would also like to establish an academic Hebrew Ulpan in Beersheba, “to help Jewish immigrants who seek to study at Ben-Gurion University.”
She is a full supporter of the Nefesh B’Nefesh Go South Program.
Additionally, if elected, Shmueli would like to improve the medical care offered to Beersheba residents.
“When sick people come to Soroka [Medical Center], they wait for hours until they get treated,” she explained.
However, she doesn’t only seek to promote the health of the people living in Beersheba. “I would like to help educate the population against abusing animals,” Shmueli said. “Many children around the country throw animals into fires during Lag Baomer and abuse animals in horrific ways. I would like to fight this inhumane practice. I plan to educate children that animals have feelings and that if they rip off their tails or ears, it hurts them just as it would us if someone were to pull off part of our bodies.”
Most importantly, Shmueli plans to be responsive to all of her constituents’ requests. She seeks to arrange office hours where Beersheba residents will be able to visit her and make requests. “The stuff that I will fight for will come from the field. My door and my ears will be open,” she emphasized.
The author is content manager for United With Israel and a blogger at The Jewish Press. She recently completed her MA degree in Middle Eastern Studies at Ben-Gurion University.