Film and Television Academy to Look at Democratization

Academy members demand general assembly meetings include all members of academy, not only board members.

The board of the Israeli Film and Television Academy has established a special committee to examine demands for democratization of the organization. Future elections for the academy were likely to be held via the Internet, academy chairman Mark Rosenbaum told Haaretz yesterday.

These developments occurred in the wake of a complaint raised recently by a group of academy members who demanded general assembly meetings to include all members of the academy and not only board members, some of whom have ended their term in office, with the aim of democratizing the organization.

The demand to extend the right to vote to all members was raised in a letter recently sent to the board by a group of 22 members, including directors Judd Naaman, Micha Shagrir, Uri Barabash, Dan Wollman, Doron Eran, Avi Bouchbut and Shaul Dishy, producers Davis Silber and Ehud Bleiberg, and journalist Miki Rosenthal. Four representatives of the signers attended a board meeting held last week and presented their demands.

"Even before [last week's] meeting, we had established a committee to examine the matter because some of the demands are definitely reasonable," academy chairman Rosenbaum said yesterday. "What they are asking is theoretically quite correct, but you have to remember that the academy today numbers more than 900 members and we have to find the right way to do it.

"We don't want to give the right to vote to all members of the academy and then get to a situation in which only 20 members show up for a general meeting and they are the ones to make decisions for everyone. We'll have to have a minimum amount of participants in order to ensure that decisions really are democratic."

Rosenbaum also said that it is still not clear whether voting rights would be granted to all academy members with regard to all decisions or only in certain areas. "I'm sure we'll find the correct way to carry this out that is acceptable to everyone. The solution may be to hold some votes via the Internet. In any case, we are glad to begin to act on this matter and make corrections, and I believe this is the best way to take care of things. You don't fix anything with silliness and shouting," Rosenbaum said.

The letter transmitted over the weekend to the academy board contains a legal opinion, which states that the academy's general meetings in their current format are illegal.

"It is true that the law governing non-profit organizations allows for general meetings that are attended only by representatives [of the general membership]. But the law states clearly that the general meeting must then consist of representatives elected by all the members," writes attorney Noy Brinet, an expert on such law.

"With all due respect, this step has never been undertaken, and if the general meeting is, as claimed, a meeting of representatives, in the absence of a general election for representatives by all members, the general meetings do not meet the demands of the law."