How I came to understand Israel’s elections

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I just finished reading an article about the Israeli elections in the Friday issue of The Jerusalem Post and, for the first time, I finally understood it.

Although I have previously tried to comprehend how Israel’s election process works, it wasn’t until today that something finally clicked. It could be that it was because on Thursday night a member of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s staff explained it to me during a dinner conversation and Friday I attended a panel discussion about the elections that included Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Steve Linde.

Both of these took place during a press trip to Israel through the American Jewish Press Association. As I write this, I am still on this incredible journey that was sponsored by the Israel Ministry of Tourism and El Al.

During this trip, we have visited many popular tourist destinations – Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to Jewish victims of the Holocaust; The Israel Museum, which includes the Book of the Shrine that houses the Dead Sea Scrolls; the City of David National Park, where we toured a site believed to be King David’s Palace and walked through an underground tunnel; the Kotel and the Old City; and the Mahana Yehuda fruit and vegetable market that was bustling with pre-Shabbat activity. In the next few days, I’ll be visiting sites in the Northern Galilee, while others on the tour visit Masada and Eilat, and then we’ll all meet in Tel Aviv.

Participating in a panel discussion about Israel's elections are, from left, Abraham Diskin, professor emeritus of the department of political science of Hebrew University; Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Steve Linde; and Uri Dromi, executive director of the Jerusalem Press Club.

Participating in a panel discussion about Israel’s elections are, from left, Abraham Diskin, professor emeritus of the department of political science of Hebrew University; Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Steve Linde; and Uri Dromi, executive director of the Jerusalem Press Club. Photos by Leisah Woldoff

There were a few special additions for this press trip, including a tour of the headquarters of Yad Sarah, the country’s largest volunteer organization, and the panel discussion mentioned above, which also included Abraham Diskin, professor emeritus of the department of political science of Hebrew University, and Uri Dromi, executive director of the Jerusalem Press Club. The goal of the newly established Jerusalem Press Club is to present a personal side of Israel to members of the foreign media – both those who are stationed in Israel and those who are temporarily covering breaking stories, according to Dromi. On Jan. 25, the 23 AJPA press trip participants received a tour of the facility, which is currently being renovated and is scheduled to open in June.

The facility is located in Mishkenot Sha’ananim, a neighborhood that was built more than 150 years ago by Sir Moses Montefiore of Britain and is the first Jewish neighborhood in modern-day Jerusalem, according to the Jerusalem Foundation. Earlier this year, the Jerusalem Foundation received a $2.5 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to establish the press club.

Dromi, whose background includes serving as director of the Government Press Office, where he was the chief spokesman for the Rabin and Peres governments, also writes a column about Israel in the Miami Herald. During the tour, he described his vision: The Jerusalem Press Club will be a place where journalists will have a home-away-from-home that includes a working station, a lounge, a briefing room where they can hold interviews, and a state-of-the-art studio. Journalists covering Israel will have a place to stay and mingle with Israeli, Palestinian and international sources, Dromi said, and the press club will also arrange home hospitality visits. This will help the foreign press get to know the personal side of Israel, Dromi said, rather than just its politics, and gain an in-depth understanding of life in Israel. Future plans also include programs for student journalists and for groups of journalists who cover specific topics, such as arts, agriculture, wine or science.

Uri Dromi, executive director of the Jerusalem Press Club, right, gives a tour of what will be the new facility’s restaurant.

One dream of Dromi’s is to someday pick up a newspaper at any airport in the world and see articles that reflect the positive contributions of Israel to the world. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Israel and experience it firsthand, rather than just through the pages of our newspaper, and hope all who wish to also get the opportunity someday.

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