Neighborhood councils and a new lobby for the Dor Moria initiative

The non-profit organization Dor Moriah has reached an agreement to establish a “Lobby for the Development of Israel’s Electoral System.” The aim of the lobby is to amend the legislation on local elections in order to legalize district councils. And the process of registering the parliamentary lobby in the Knesset has begun.

The social activist is not living by bread alone

When it comes to community service, most often in Israel it is understood to mean direct charity. For example, collecting and distributing some food, essentials, clothes, furniture, etc. There can also be trainings and seminars, meetings and lectures.

But the public man is not living by bread alone. It is also in his power to improve the lives of people – any group or community. Improvement of their socio-economic situation in general, is carried out through the impact on socio-political processes. This kind of influence requires special tools of influence, as well as certain skills and knowledge. It is necessary to have a clear understanding of the problematic situation, to formulate targets for public-political influence. In addition, you need to be able to form pressure groups and use lobbying tools.

The non-profit organization “Dor Moriah” has been studying socio-political processes in Israel for 6 years. The organization’s experts worked at polling stations, conducted investigative journalism and sociological research. Prepared analytics on various aspects of Israeli public life.

In parallel, volunteer programs such as “Clean City” or “Solidarity School” were implemented. For two years in a row, Dor Moria participated in the Blogger Fest in Haifa. Public initiatives such as the “Haifa Format” or “Decentralizing Israel” were launched.

“Dor Moriah” carried out projects with members of the Arabic-speaking minority and studied the problems of solidarization of Russian speakers in Israel.

2023 is a year of exploration and anxiety

In 2023, Dor Moriah focused on examining Israeli attitudes toward issues that are splintering Israeli society.

The experts of the organization conducted 6 sociological studies. Israelis’ attitudes toward the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and opinions on judicial reform were studied. A ranking of the most influential world leaders in the Middle East was determined. Expectations for the U.S. presidential election in 2024 are explored. The image of Israel’s future after the war with Hamas was also explored.

In parallel, expert discussions were held and analytical materials were prepared. One question was important for us! “What should be done to reduce social risks from possible civil confrontation?“. There were heated discussions with bloggers and political analysts, community leaders and business people. All of our research and discussions have been published in the Israeli media in Russian, English and Hebrew.

Dor Moria experts met with opposition and coalition MPs. Various tools to lower the degree of public confrontation were discussed.

Majority whip for a proportional town hall

Our numerous meetings, both with the public and deputies, made it possible to realize one important thing. In order for the demands of the protesters to develop into specifics of socio-economic development, it is necessary to start changes from below. The first step is to influence the house, the street, the neighborhood you live in. City residents should have tools to influence city councils and mayors. Coalition “bargaining” between different lists should be a thing of the past. And city councils should turn into a tool for developing the urban environment and improving the quality of life of citizens.

And for this purpose, the first step was to ensure the legalization of district councils in Israel’s cities. It is necessary to allow citizens to choose not just members of some parties to represent their interests in city councils. It is necessary to choose people who live nearby, know the problems of the neighborhood and are interested in its development.

Historically, the Israeli electoral system evolved on the principles of proportional representation, which facilitated the formation of multiple political parties. This has led to criticism related to too much power of small parties. Which leads to frequent changes of governments and political instability.

Local elections are also held under a proportional system. Elections are held by party lists, or some kind of social groups. These lists are in no way tied to the territories and interests of specific neighborhoods in cities.

Legalization of district councils at the level of legislation on local elections, will improve the electoral system. Will be able to drive a majoritarian wedge into the slender ranks of party lists and groups led by municipal bureaucrats.

Lobby for the development of electoral legislation

Currently, neighborhood councils, are self-proclaimed groups that can be recognized by the City Council. Or they may not admit it. If such a self-proclaimed group opposes the mayor, the mayor would simply create another self-proclaimed group. And can quietly manipulate the opinion of neighborhood residents.

But how do you legally legalize district councils? The Dor Moria esperts met with various MPs and political forces throughout 2023. The real move to create a lobby was made possible by a Likud member of the Knesset. We’ll keep his name a secret for now so as not to jinx the process. I met with him on January 15, 2024 and he immediately supported the idea. And the process of creating a “Lobby for the Development of Israel’s Electoral System” with the goals of legalizing district councils, has begun.

In our opinion, the parliamentary lobby is an important instrument of influence. It is a platform to bring all stakeholders together and invite representatives of ministries and agencies. It is a platform for discussing procedures, principles of interaction of district councils with city councils and mayors. Places to discuss responsibility and authority with district councils as structures of grassroots self-organization of city dwellers.

It is only through lobbyism that the socio-economic situation of different groups of the population can be really influenced. The failure of non-governmental organizations to use these mechanisms can only indicate one thing. On the immaturity of instruments of public influence on the adoption and implementation of political decisions.