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!
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • 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.