37-year-old Oded Forer became a Knesset member from the party «Israel Our home» in September 2015. In an interview with NEWSru.co.il he spoke about the process of lawmaking and differences between the work of the Deputy Director of the Ministry.
Interviewed political commentator NEWSru.co.il Gabby Wolfson.
Mr. Forer, you’ve been an activist of the party «Israel Our home» at various levels, and then CEO of the Ministry of aliyah and immigrant absorption, then became a Deputy. Where there are more opportunities to influence, to make a real difference?
The opportunity to influence are everywhere. But the question is, what kind of activities we’re talking about. In terms of aliyah, my ability to influence was significantly higher on the post of the General Director of the Ministry than in the role of a Knesset member. But being a MP, I have the opportunity to influence the «wide». Today I do not only matters of aliyah and immigrant absorption, but also questions of economy, security, health. It is clear that the Ministry can solve specific problems much faster.
In other words, to pass a law harder than to implement a particular initiative being the CEO of the Ministry.
So. But basically, it’s all like asking me which child I love more. The position of Director General of the Ministry of awesome.
How long you had it?
A year and a half, but made this time it was all three. We changed the concept of the Ministry, made it much more focused on the issue of repatriation. During this time the number of immigrants has grown significantly. In that period the crisis began in Ukraine, and we were preparing for the reception of immigrants from there. A lot was accomplished in a short period of time.
You don’t miss the Ministry, more freedom to make decisions, to act?
No. I love what you are doing today. It is clear that everyone wants to have more opportunities to quickly implement ideas and plans. But today I’m influenced by being in the Knesset.
You are in a very centralist party, the head of which is extremely dominant. To what extent do you have freedom of action? In other words, you put forward their own initiatives or is it orders from above?
Freedom of action and me and activists of the party is quite large. Perhaps it is because we are in the party, which is correctly driven, which has clear contours and boundaries. Within the boundaries of what we believe we have the ability to act freely.
Legislative initiatives? Or you call and say, «Promote it»?
There are bills that reflect issues important to the agenda of our party, and there are bills that I initiate. And not just bills. In the coming days, for example, start work two lobbies I founded the: first lobby to save the Dead sea. It is not the party’s theme or part of the agenda of the party, but this is a topic that is personally very important for me. The second lobby is called «For the victory of Israel», but we are talking about changing minds.
We are talking about the need to return to the approach under which every conflict should end in a victory for Israel. It is a condition of reaching any agreement in the future.
You speak about the victory in an armed confrontation?
Not only. War, as we all know, may be «cold». We are in a state of conflict with the Arab world, and is constantly talking about the prospect of some agreements. I would argue that the condition of their achievements is the recognition by the Palestinians of their defeat and our victory.
And what are the winning criteria?
We are based on one criteria: the state of Israel is the national state of the Jewish people. This is the starting point, without recognition of which the Palestinians, about any agreements we can not go. This is the basis of Zionism. My great-grandfather came here 120 years ago that there was a national state of the Jewish people. And this is the main parameter of victory.
In this case, you’re talking about the law, which is currently being developed, the law on the Jewish character of the state.
Not only. I’m talking primarily about the message to our neighbors. You want to negotiate with us about boundaries? Please. Someone sees the border as someone else. But inside the boundaries, wherever they took place, Israel must be the national state of the Jewish people. This Foundation has been forgotten, we must return to it.
What to do to create a lobby?
Because it ceased to be obvious. Not only for Israelis, but for those with whom we negotiate, and for intermediaries. The United States and Europe require from us concessions, require serious steps. But there is no agreement about the basics. When I build a house, it is impossible to do without foundations, the house collapses. Recognition of the fact that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people that we are not here to kick, and is a Foundation.
Was recently approved law on «darkone». The highest point of your legislative activities so far?
In many ways, Yes. This is one of the most revolutionary laws.
Why was it necessary? And do we need it?
You know, God forbid, that he was not needed. But in the last few decades in Israel, the situation is absurd, when there are citizens first and second grade. The natives of the countries wishing to go abroad, you go to MVD, get passports and everything. Immigrants who left everything they had, suffered the hardships of absorption, are subject to inspections, get the «Lesse passe». May not be to state there were two kinds of citizens. The current situation was relevant in the sixties, when people rarely travelled abroad. It’s July, soon August, look at what is happening in Ben Gurion airport. Why the people who came a year ago, can’t afford a holiday abroad? Why do they have to get a visa to go to Greece? You know that in order to go to Crete need a passport? «Lesse passe» there just are not allowed. Absurd.
Your law was approved at a time when questions have been raised about the possibility of changing the law of return, about whether to grant citizenship to anyone who arrived immediately at the airport. Don’t be fooled by the arguments of the supporters of stricter immigration policy?
We must remember that the state of Israel came in literally on the ruins of the Jewish people. Having survived one of the worst in the history of mankind, the tragedies, the government has established the principle: we accept Jews and their relatives in the second generation. That is, if one of the parents or grandparents was a Jew, the people can come to get citizenship and live here.
Do you think this approach is correct?
This is the basis of our presence here. This is a balanced and right approach, paving the way for the Jews to return to their home.
Yes. There are many initiatives to change the law of return. Someone needs to expand, someone to tighten. It seems to me that to touch it is not necessary. By the way, I am sure that in the context of umiditatii with which we are dealing today, the law of return would not be approved.
Legal advisers would have strangled him. Of their specialization: it is impossible, then it is unacceptable.
But what would be the catch?
The law says the priority of one national group in obtaining citizenship. This once would have caused…
By the way, not national but religious.
Yes, but in our case it is inseparable. Many do not like it, but it is. And by the way, this is another reason why I’m against changing the law of return in any direction. It needs to be protected all the time to seek relief from bureaucratic obstacles. The bureaucracy must be destroyed.
In the course of work on the law on «darkone» you certainly have to hear the arguments of the police that the law will make Israel even more attractive to criminal and other undesirable shapes.
It is racist and the trumped-up arguments.
Object to them in fact.
In their assertions of no substance. First, anyone who immigrated, knows that in order to obtain an entry visa to Israel you need to submit a paper on the lack of criminal record. Moreover, in the law there is nothing that would restrict the rights of the Minister of internal Affairs in the matter of the issuance or non-issuance of passports. If it turns out that someone is related to criminal activity, the Minister may refuse him. When we fight crime, not stop life in the state. To get a criminal, we do not freeze the process for all returnees. Moreover, we have asked the foreign Ministry with the request. There are hundreds of Israelis, which, unfortunately, involved in particular criminal activities abroad. We asked how many of them are natives of the country, how many are repatriated. The vast majority – natives of Israel. So all this talk about crime danger is the stereotypes and horror, sucked from the finger.
The police uses stereotypes?
The entire bureaucracy uses stereotypes and acts based on them. Bureaucrats so easily. By the way, the police can say only good things. At the meetings of the Knesset’s internal Affairs, the police asked, whether they objected against this law. The answer was «No.» And all these stereotypical warnings and cautions published anonymously in the form of discharges from the officials. Unworthy.
The assertion that we are talking about the law adopted for the oligarchs, the same stereotype?
If we are talking about the oligarchs, believe me, these guys have enough money to not need nor in my act, nothing else. This law provides assistance to ordinary people.
One technical question: what do the people who ordered the «Lesse passe» or already have it on hand?
Go to the interior Ministry, as ordinary citizens, stand in line like ordinary citizens, and get «Darkon» as ordinary citizens. We gave the Ministry a month to adapt training systems and so on. There’s still a lot of confusion in connection with the transition to biometric passports. But fundamentally everything is resolved, and the one who comes in the interior Ministry could gain the «Darkon».
How coalition partners reacted to this bill?
Had to do some fighting.
With the inertia. What does the process of adoption of the law? Project officials consider and report their opinion to the Ministers. What’s the official likes, when he suddenly changing the established form of work? Therefore it was necessary to argue, prove, convince, and Minister of internal Affairs, and Minister of internal security and Minister of justice. Fortunately, we succeeded, and voting in the second and third reading the law was adopted unanimously.
Your party repeatedly demanded to give the Israelis residing abroad the right to vote in elections to the Knesset. First, what is happening with this initiative, and secondly, what is your relationship to her?
Currently, a Committee headed by the Minister Ariva Levine that discusses this issue. My opinion is that under certain conditions it is possible to provide Israelis residing abroad the right to vote.
Under what conditions?
For example, when we are talking about a man who visits Israel several times a year, when we are talking about someone who go to IDF reserve charges when it comes to someone who represents Israel is not necessarily in state missions. Why is the man the company «Teva» sent to Munich for three years, can not vote in the elections? And I don’t want to be linked to economic capabilities of the person, that is to create a situation in which only those who have money can afford to buy a ticket and fly to Israel. This, incidentally, contributes to the preservation of relations with Israelis abroad. This is the direct interest of the state of Israel. The country should maintain contact with their citizens abroad for study or a long work trip.
Now you head the Commission, which is considering the reduction of the school holidays. In fact, why is the Knesset, not the government?
You asked what the difference is between my influence in the position of CEO of the Ministry and the Knesset. It is in this. Here I can touch everything that is important to citizens and how it deals with the government.
That is, you took this because of the inaction of the government?
Not just inaction. It started on Lag b’omer. A week before the celebration, the Minister of education announced the postponement of the output for a single day. He was not interested in parental leave, did not interest him, by the way, and leave teachers who have already built plans for the day. He didn’t care that the entire fleet of buses of Israel confined to Meron, and students will not have Shuttle service. Asked him – he suffered. However, as it turned out, he is not obliged to ask permission for such a move have of the Knesset’s education. To put a hundred shekels from one budget to another paragraph, you need to collect a meeting of the Finance Committee of the Knesset and argued, but not here. Hundreds of millions of financial loss to the state coffers, and no one cares. Then I intervened, but only in the context of this situation, and the whole range of issues related to vacation, with a too large gap that exists between parental leave and leave of teachers.
Let’s order. Created Commission.
At my request, the educational Committee of the Knesset established a special sub-Commission, which these days holds a discussion.
What is the authority?
After the end of the discussion, the Subcommission will present the education Committee of the Knesset recommendations.
What are the powers of the education Committee in this matter?
To approve the laws.
So you went through legislative changes.
There are two possibilities. First, the Commission will refer to the Ministers of education and Finance and say: «Dear friends, here are our recommendations, please start negotiations with the associations of teachers for their implementation». This way, of course, preferable.
I would venture to suggest that it may not lead to anything. And then you…?
Demand to adopt the law. But I still hope for success. We offer solutions that do not bear prejudice to either side.
Can you give an example?
The simplest example does not even require reducing the number of school days. I’m talking about the tying of the school year to the Jewish calendar. Then the school year will begin in ultra-Orthodox schools, the first day of the Jewish Elul.
Pupils will remain two months vacation, if you ask me. But in itself a different distribution of holidays and months will bring about important changes. There will be a situation in which the academic year begins on September 1, after two months of vacation, and after five days the students will go to the new vacation on the occasion of the high holidays. This modification is useful from a pedagogical point of view and will reduce the burden on parents.
How will it reduce the load if the total number of holidays remains unchanged?
If the process of acclimatization of the child in the school will need to pass once, and not twice as it is now, this is easier. But what we are talking not only offer. For example, under consideration to recommend to set the celebration of Independence Day on the same day – Thursday last week, when it should be celebrated, and make Friday a weekend. Now Independence Day is supposed to celebrate the fifth day of the Hebrew month of Iyar. But that almost never happens. If a holiday falls on Friday, it moves you. If it falls on Sunday, the push is also, as the memorial Day cannot be Saturday. We will offer to make Independence Day is always one day to add-Friday, weekends, and reduce due to this summer vacation. I give, therefore, additional output of the entire economy of Israel, and the reduction of holidays only by teachers. In addition, we will have to cut summer vacation by giving financial compensation to the teachers. I’m not afraid of raising the salaries of teachers.
You are in contact with the Ministry of education?
Of course. We are working with the MoE and Ministry of Finance. Unfortunately, the Minister of education prefers to declare that problem solved, he found a way out and offer a different kind of hastily invented solutions.
He talks about engaging the system the «school of summer vacation», the holidays of Hanukkah and Passover. Well, it’s part of our recommendations. But this solution is only partial.
Because I demand to have a relevant law. I don’t want to repeat the history of Lag BA-Omer in «the schools summer break,» or to repeat the history of last summer. Open a newspaper a year ago and you will see there that the «school of summer vacation» was to expand its activities and on third classes. But Bennett overturned it, explaining his decision to a lack of budget. If there is no law, where is the guarantee that it will not happen again in a year or four years or when a change of Minister?
You know that any law can be cancelled.
Yes, but the law sets a certain situation. Today, when the Minister needs money, the easiest way to save on «the schools summer vacation.»
There is something of what you say will be implemented in the coming academic year?
Extension «of schools summer vacation.» Binding of the academic year to the Jewish calendar probably have to be postponed for another year.
Remain in the sphere of education. You initiated the law under which the state will be able to reduce the budgets of universities, where teachers spoke in an unacceptable manner about the state of Israel. And I ask again – why do we need it?
I will again answer the same. This law would not be needed if someone worked the head. But there were a few egregious cases, remaining without reaction of the universities. If the teacher expressed support for an academic boycott of the state and the educational institution in which he teaches, and the University doesn’t dismiss him, not removed from work does not make him a reprimand, then we have a problem. If another teacher allows himself to be called Minister of justice of the state of Israel «neo-Nazi bitch», and his colleague, standing in front of students, said that Israel reminded him of the third Reich, it indicates a very unhealthy processes in Israeli society. If universities respond to such, then there would be no need for laws. The law is needed where the market does not work. My law is very simple. It gives powers to the Minister of education and the Council for higher education to cut budgets. No the law establishes the amounts, criteria and so on. The law only authorizes the Minister of education and deprives him of the opportunity to argue that there’s nothing he can do about these phenomena.
Who will establish the criteria?
The Council for higher education. In principle, these criteria are obvious, but we propose to use what appears in the criminal law. There is a crime called sedition (המרדה). There is very clearly stipulated what you can and cannot do.
This also applies to those who call Arabs as a fifth column, and ultra-Orthodox parasites?
This applies to all. I am convinced that this form of discussion is unacceptable. If someone wants to present a radical point of view, he is obliged to represent both sides. How can it be that the students in the second degree at tel Aviv University showed a film of Muhammad Bakri’s «Jenin, Jenin»?
Why not? Show and discuss.
But in order to discuss, you need to present the other side. Students must show the side of those who were there. This is not happening. This brainwashing is unacceptable, and she strikes first in the field of academic education.
Coalition crisis associated with the issues of conversion and the wailing Wall, behind or is it just a timeout?
This time-out. It will last six months, and we hope that during this time, a solution will be found. But it is possible that the timeout will be extended. In certain situations it is the best way to freeze in the position in which it is located. I am convinced that Gilly is an issue in which the state should intervene as little as possible. There is a variety of Orthodox system, stress, Orthodox, giving the opportunity to convert to Judaism in a more peaceful, cosy and friendly atmosphere.
Compromise the wailing Wall?
The same. I think that after the introduction of certain semantic changes, a compromise will be implemented. Very much defines the social atmosphere. Reform community made the mistake of arranging the winning festival after the approval of the compromise, as it pushed the second party to search for the same victory. The Jewish people lost from this war.
You are going to run for the Knesset of 21st convocation?
I definitely will file his candidacy before the election in two years.
I think that the coalition will last the whole of her allotted time?
Hope. But not undertake to predict.
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