In a joint project of the Education Ministry and the Israel Center for Citizen Empowerment (ICCE) the heads of the "large parties" in Israel will meet with students who are to vote for their first time in the coming elections.
The event will be held this Sunday in Tel Aviv University, with the participation of 12th-grade students from around the country. The primary objective, according to Ministry Director Michal Cohen, is "to expose the youths to the various processes in the Israeli democracy and to have them meet with public representatives running for the 20th Knesset."
The promotional literature for the event states that the students will meet with the heads of "the large parties in Israel." The eight chosen parties are: the "Zionist camp" (the Labor-Hatnua merger), Likud, Jewish Home, Yesh Atid, Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu party, Meretz, Shas, and the united Arab party.
The list raises some basic questions: while it has been faring well in polls, why is Kahlon's party considered one of Israel's largest, if it does not even currently have a representation in the Knesset, and who made the decision?
Moshe Kahlon, originally of the Likud, left it two years ago in order to start his own party. Not one of his party colleagues on his list of candidates is nationally-known, the party has never run in an election, and it has no accomplishments to its credit. Despite this, Kahlon, and not representatives of other on-paper parties, is being granted the right to meet with students in a publicly-sponsored forum.
Polls show that Kahlon's Kulanu party will receive 8 Knesset seats. A spokesperson for the event, when asked by Arutz Sheva, indicated that this justifies the invitation to Kahlon. However, she could not explain why, by this same reasoning, Eli Yishai's Yachad – Ha'am Itanu party was not invited to the event.
Yishai, it will be recalled, is an incumbent Knesset Member, as is his number two candidate, Yoni Chetboun, formerly of the Jewish Home. Polls show it will earn at least 4 seats.
Another question that arises is: given that the criteria for meeting the students is "party size," why is Meretz, with six MKs, on the list, while the hareidi-religious United Torah Judaism party, with 7 MKs, was not invited to appear?
Finally, how can the students become fully-informed and politically aware, as the organizers hope, if only specific party-heads are chosen to meet them, while other large parties are not invited?
These and other questions were submitted to the organizers; Arutz Sheva will publicize the reply when and if it arrives.
Tomer Lotan, Director of the ICCE, explained, "we see great importance in holding this gathering and getting the students to meet the politicians with no intermediaries."
The students will be able to see, mostly for the first time, the different various political and platforms of the parties, with the goal of "developing independent and mature young adults, responsible and caring about their nation," he said.
Yair Lapid and Moshe Kahlon, as well as representatives of the Likud and the Arab party, will speak for 20 minutes each before lunch, while Yitzhak Herzog (Labor), Aryeh Deri (Shas), Zahava Galon (Meretz) and Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) will do the same after lunch. A computerized poll of audience opinions will be carried out during the course of the day.