News and Events

Is the Electoral System in Israel broken?

With the 4th Israeli election since April 2019 fast approaching there is now, sadly, talk of the need for a 5th election in August. One would have to question why and wonder if the electoral system in Israel is broken?

Here in Australia we have been spoilt with expert political commentators and speakers from Israel and the United States. In particular, the Australian Progressive Movement brought us Amir Tibon from Ha’aretz as part of the launch of the Progressive Appeal.

Other organisations such as the Australian Zionist Federation, Gusti Braverman from the World Zionist Organization,  and AIJAC have also introduced us to some fascinating individuals. These have included the leader of the Israeli Labor Party, Mirav Michaeli, correspondents Tali Schneider, Danielle Pletka and others. This is aside from those Australian leaders in our Jewish community who are also expressing their views.

The general view amongst the experts seems to be that there are two main voting blocs in Israel. Those with loyalty to Netanyahu including Likud and the religious parties on the one hand and the right wing, secular and left wing parties on the other. If either bloc manages to win a majority of Knesset seats, (61 seats) there is no guarantee that they will be able to form a Coalition to govern. This means it is also unknown at this stage who could be Prime Minister…..Netanyahu, Sa’ar, Bennett, Gantz, Lapid or someone yet to be identified?

According to the commentators, it is also clear that the Ultra Orthodox will only support the party which will give them a weakened Supreme Court; this is thought to be Likud under Netanyahu. This is because the Supreme Court has just delivered a decision to recognise non-Orthodox Israeli conversion. To the Ultra-Orthodox this and other pluralist and equality based decisions reduces their power.

Australians used to our electoral system must find the Israeli system puzzling. There is only one house in the Knesset, no upper houses to provide what Australians consider to be a check and/or balance. There are no electorates, so each member of the Knesset is first and only a member of a party, not representing a community of people in a geographic area, just a community based on maybe religious belief, philosophical belief or power.

The voting system is Proportional Representation. Successful parties merely have to achieve a percentage of votes to reach the threshold for a Knesset seat. The votes for an unsuccessful party are therefore lost. Voters are not given the option of preferences as they are in Australia.

An interesting conclusion for the Progressive Movement is that if the Netanyahu bloc is not successful, the government of Israel would not include the Ultra- Orthodox. This means that with the non-Orthdox community gaining strength and more Israelis finding Progressive/Reform, Conservative more appealing, much could be achieved through the Knesset, without relying on the Supreme Court.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey
ARZA Australia President

2021-03-18T18:26:46+11:00March 18th, 2021|Events, News|

International Women’s Day with Merav Michaeli MK!

ARZA logo
Union for Progressive Judaism

For International Women’s Day, ARZA and the UPJ introduce a special interview being brought to Australia by the ZFA on Sunday March 7, at 7 pm. MERAV MICHAELI MK is Head of the Israeli Labor Party for the coming Israeli elections. She is a champion for women’s rights through decades of activism.

While ARZA and the UPJ are non-partisan Zionist Jewish organisations, we do encourage you to view this event, knowing that Progressive Rabbi Gilad Kariv is number 4 on the Labor ticket with a good chance of being elected to the Knesset. He would be the first Progressive Rabbi to join the Knesset as a Member.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President

Brian Samuel and David Knoll, UPJ Co-Presidents

Brian Samuel OAM and David Knoll AM
UPJ Joint Presidents

ZFA Logo

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2021:

SPECIAL ONLINE EVENT – SUNDAY 7 MARCH

#WOMENLEAD

The Zionist Federation of Australia is delighted to invite to you a very special event for International Women’s Day 2021, featuring member of Knesset and Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli MK. A champion for women’s rights, MK Michaeli will also speak about the upcoming Israeli elections. She will be in conversation with ZFA’s Information Chair, Adele Stowe-Lindner.

The global theme for International Women’s Day is “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”. In keeping with the theme of hearing from women who inspire, lead and are committed to making a difference every day, Merav Michaeli embodies all of these qualities through decades of activism seeking to promote equal rights for women.

Merav Michaeli is the newly elected chair of the Israeli Labor Party and a Knesset member since 2013. She is a former journalist, TV anchor, and radio broadcaster. Her activities have extended over many issues and sectors, including; socio-economic discourse, gender equality, relationship between state and religion, LBGTQ rights, labor rights and promoting the peace process.

Join us on Sunday 7 March 2021 at 7 pm over Zoom for what is sure to be a fascinating conversation. Register here.

Register Now!
Flyer - ZFA Merav Michaeli MK

2021-03-01T21:18:57+11:00March 1st, 2021|Events, News|

ARZA and UPJ support ARC Statement

ARZA logo
Union for Progressive Judaism

ARZA Australia joins with the Union for Progressive Judaism in supporting the following statement by the Australian Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors. The statement by the ARC came, in light of the Times of Israel report that Orthodox MK’s vow to shun Knesset Progressive candidate Rabbi Gilad Kariv as a partner for coalition or a minyan.

The Orthodox MK’s said that they would boycott Progressive Rabbi Gilad Kariv if, as appears likely, he enters the Knesset with centre-left Labor in next month’s general election. They took this opportunity to attack Progressive Judaism, with Shas MK Moshe Abutbul being quoted as saying that “there are all kinds of clownish religions from abroad and now the Labor Party decided to bring them here. We won’t cooperate with this type of people who are destroying traditional Judaism”. 

Kind regards Helen

23 February 2021

The Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors (ARC) of Australia, New Zealand and Asia stands with our global partners, including the WUPJ, IMPJ, and ARZENU, in condemning the insulting, intolerant, hostile rhetoric of Ultra-Orthodox and National Religious leaders about our movement.  Their inaccurate words about Progressive Judaism and the shunning behaviour they threaten toward Rabbi Gilad Kariv, a candidate in the upcoming Knesset elections, fall far short of the ideals on which the State was founded, including respect for pluralism and difference of opinion that makes for a healthy democracy and civil discourse.

Those who established the State wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “We extend our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land.” Today’s sovereign Jewish people deserve no less of their own elected leaders and candidates; we call on such leaders to model neighbourliness, cooperation, and peace toward one another.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President

2021-03-01T21:03:58+11:00February 24th, 2021|News|
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