Towards a More Transparent Jewish State

To Win Youth, Israel Needs Tech-Friendly Open Government

Open the Door: Knesset member Stav Shaffir says Israel’s youth are disillusioned with politics. Technology and open government laws can help pull open the curtain leading to the smoke-filled rooms.
getty images
Open the Door: Knesset member Stav Shaffir says Israel’s youth are disillusioned with politics. Technology and open government laws can help pull open the curtain leading to the smoke-filled rooms.

By Stav Shaffir

Published April 30, 2013, issue of May 03, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

A year after the eruption of the 2011 social protest in Israel, and just before the 2013 election campaign, we — a small group of the protest leaders — decided to embark on a cross-country journey to learn what had changed during the intervening months, and to find out how Israelis would like the protest movement to expand and remain active.

We traveled from Eilat to Safed. We met high school and yeshiva students; we passed through retirement homes; we visited kibbutzim that were successful in preserving their communal character and kibbutzim that were not; we spoke with Arab students and with ultra-Orthodox Jewish teachers, and we asked everyone the same question: Should the social protest movement find a way into institutional politics?

The responses were divided by age. Over 35, everyone answered, unequivocally, yes. Under 35, the majority of the responses were “Absolutely not.”

Israeli youth, like many young people all over the world, do not believe in politics. They don’t believe in politics because shortly after their mandatory army service during which they commit two or three years of their life to serve the society and the state, they feel abandoned by that society and state.

The available role models for these young people never looked less impressive. A former president serving a jail sentence, a former prime minister and minister of foreign affairs with ongoing trials, and a large number of civil servants accused of sexual offenses, corruption or plain opportunism. The basic contract between the state and its citizens was so utterly shattered that in many places these youth decided that their form of protest will simply be not to participate.

When I decided to run for office, I dreamed of being a bridge between the thousands who shouted “The people demand social justice” and politicians, budgets and compromises. After a rather odd election campaign, we may not have the Knesset for which we prayed, but on the bright side it does include almost 50 new politicians, many of whom came from social and educational enterprises.

I have the great honor of being one of many politicians who knows that if we do not make our politics cleaner, more transparent and more participatory, they will continue to drive away excellent talent and distance sane voters, and, with time, our governing class will become smaller and more corrupt.

If there is one element that binds the young people who have protested against governments all over the world in recent years, it is an embrace of technology. Unlike our parents, we learned freedom through our fingers.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.