Israel's Social Protest Leaders to Present Alternative Expert Panel

The new team, some 60 academics and public figures, vows to present practical possibilities for changing priorities; team's members declare they intend to work with complete transparency.

The leaders of the social protest have put together their own alternative group of experts who will draw up a new socioeconomic policy, separate from the panel established by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu under Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg.

A press conference will be held in Tel Aviv Monday morning to announce the members of the team, many of whom have approached the leaders in recent days, offering their assistance in formulating a new policy. Some of the experts even called on the leaders not to cooperate with the panel set up by Netanyahu.

Trajtenberg, social protest
Daniel Bar-On

The alternative team of experts, of some 60 academics and public figures, is divided into nine sub-units. Their work will be coordinated by Prof. Avia Spivak, former deputy Bank of Israel governor, and education professor Yossi Yonah of Ben-Gurion University. Among those expected to speak today, in addition to the two coordinators, are Adina Bar-Shalom, daughter of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and a founder of the Haredi College in Jerusalem, and Dr. Hala Espanioli, former chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee on education.

Some of the units have already held their first working meetings, and others are planning to do so this week. Each unit is expected to present a new set of priorities in their field of expertise, and also to suggest various possible funding possibilities. Their conclusions will be prepared for release in the coming weeks.

In a statement, the alternative panel of experts said that "recent statements of senior ministers suggest that the government does not understand what is happening here. Those who look down on the protest and surround themselves with tycoons do not understand the depth of the revulsion at the economic processes they have led, which enrich the rich at the expense of the rest of the public. This method has created enormous gaps, greed and deteriorating public services, education, welfare and health."

The statement also said that "the demands of the public today are for fundamental change in the method, not just some improvements of it. The Trajtenberg committee, whose mandate and scope for maneuvering have not been publicized, does not appear to be capable of leading such change."

The new team vows to present practical possibilities for changing priorities. Moreover, its members have declared that they intend to work with complete transparency, in cooperation with the public and in coordination with the leadership of the protest. Members of the various sub-units will visit the tent cities to hear the views of the people.

Prof. Yossi Ze'ira of the Hebrew University will lead the team that will address economics; Emily Silverman, from the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, will head the housing and transportation group; Prof. Yitzhak Gal-Nur of Hebrew University, a former Civil Service Commissioner, will head the public administration sub-unit; Prof. Ya'akov Kashti of Tel Aviv University and Rabbi Shay Piron, who runs the Petah Tikva yeshiva, will head the education group; Prof. Danny Filc of Ben-Gurion University will be responsible for the health sub-unit; Nadia Ismail of the Abraham Fund will be in charge of the employment group; Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer will head the legal team; Prof. Bilha Tadher of Tel Aviv University will oversee the social security group; and Prof. Yossi Yonah will head a group that will deal with "fundamentals of a policy of social justice."