April 2015 — Nisan-Iyar 5775,  Volume 21, Issue 4

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Magid Calls for Civility in Discussing Israel-American Political Issues


Pam Goldstein, West-chester Jewish Council (WJC) Assistant Executive Director, welcomed the public to WJC Israel Roundtable, held at Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale on Wednesday, March 25, introducing Manhattanville College sophomore and Hillel President Jen Weintraub, who explained the differences between the American and Israeli political systems.


Approximately 45 citizens from Scarsdale and outlying communities attended, with the  two students, Weintraub and SUNY Purchase Hillel member Jason Wieder.


“The United States has 320 million people with two main political parties.  Israel has 8 million people, with about 120 seats—and 10 parties.  Our elections are held every four years but the average life of an Israeli Knesset is 2 ½ years.  The threshold is 3.25%.  Each party has to get more than 3.25% of the vote in order to get a seat in the Knesset.


“The goal is to get 61 seats to achieve a majority.  Once parties are voted in, they can recommend a Prime Minister. Parties tend to create partnerships in order to gain more seats, the definition of a coalition government,” Weintraub said.


WJC Shaliach (emissary) Yoav Cohen noted the 71.8% voter turnout,  was one of the highest Israel has ever had. “When you look at the Arab sector, 80% came out to vote,” Cohen stated.  “How did Benjamin Netanyahu get elected?  First, security. Rockets have been fired before but tunnels are a new threat. Subject 1a, security and welfare.  People protested in Tel Aviv against the high cost of living,” Cohen averred.


Yoel Magid stressed that first, Netanyahu must calm things down, especially the impact of the election on the American Jewish community.  “Secondly, three months ago $125 million tax dollars due to the Palestinians was frozen.  Without money to pay the Palestinian Authority police force, their government will collapse and we will have to occupy the West Bank.”


When several heated arguments broke out alleging President Barack Obama’s lack of support for Israel, Magid called for civility “to have an honest dialogue.”