I just watched an interview on IBA-TV (from Sunday) with new legislator Rabbi Dov Lipman of Yesh Atid. He said that he intends to hold weekly open office hours where any “constituent” can come with a problem.
The interviewer pointed out that he has no district like a US congress member, so he has seven million constituents. How will he handle it? Lipman said his staff has figured out procedures (e.g. prior email or phone contact) to cope with the logistics, and then he said that this office hours idea is something that has never been done before in the Knesset.
I do not know whether that is true, but if it is, it makes for a nice finding for a single-district national closed-list electoral system!
In another interview (on Arutz Sheva radio), Lipman said he would be always available for any English speakers in the country who need assistance. (See “A self-proclaimed congresmen for English-speaking immigrants” in Haaretz.) He is American-born, having made aliyah only eight years ago (and only renounced his US citizenship upon his election, as required under both country’s laws). He is the first American-born Member of the Knesset since Rabbi Meir Kahane about thirty years ago; their country of birth and rabbinic title would seem to be about all these two MKs have in common.
In the radio interview, he also spoke of wanting to serve as a representative of Beit Shemesh, the city where he lives, and which he said has had no effective representation. He also considers himself Haredi, though he looks and sounds more “Modern Orthodox”. He is one of Yesh Atid’s intended bridges to the ultra-orthodox in its pursuit of drafting more Haredim into the Israeli military. He further wants to take up the cause of obstacles imposed on Ethiopians and Russians by the rabbinic establishment: “I feel I need to take up [the1] cause and be a voice for those who were persecuted in Russia for being Jewish and are now persecuted here for being non-Jews” (from the Haaretz profile).
Lipman was elected at number 17 on the list of Yesh Atid, which won 19 seats.
- He refers specifically here to Rav Chaim Amsalem who broke away from the Haredi Sephardic party Shas, but whose Am Shalem list failed to clear the threshold. [↩]