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News Release - Ethics Committee Praises Sharansky-Troy Plan for "Jewish people's Council"

News release from the Committee on Ethics in Jewish Leadership

July 10, 2018

 

The proposal by Natan Sharansky and Gil Troy to create a democratically-elected “Jewish People’s Council” represents a breath of fresh air and a long-overdue step towards democracy in the American Jewish community, according to the Committee on Ethics in Jewish Leadership.

 

The committee was responding to an essay in Mosaic on July 9, 2018  by Sharansky, the Soviet Jewish hero and outgoing chairman of the Jewish Agency, and Prof. Gil Troy, the noted historian and award-winning author. ( https://mosaicmagazine.com/essay/2018/07/can-american-and-israeli-jews-stay-together-as-one-people/ )

 

In order to facilitate better relations between Israel and U.S. Jewry, Sharansky and Troy proposed establishing a “Jewish People’s Council” that would consult with Israeli leaders on issues of mutual concern. Sharansky and Troy envision an initial period in which the Council would be run by Knesset Members and officials of American Jewish organizations; we urge that it be no more than sixty days. After that, “broad popular elections, facilitated by means of social media, could be held for two- or three-year appointments,” they write.

 

In a statement, the Committee on Ethics in Jewish Leadership said: 

 

“The lack of democracy in the Jewish organizational world undermines American Jewry’s commitment to a cherished American principle. The Sharansky-Troy proposal offers an important partial corrective to this troubling situation.

 

“Too many American Jewish or Zionist organizations do not hold any elections for their leadership positions, sometimes in defiance of their own by-laws. Some other groups stage elections in which incumbents run unopposed, or in which the race is so heavily stacked in favor of the incumbent that the opponent never has a meaningful chance. Wealth, political connections, male gender, or the trading of favors too often influence the choice of a leader, instead of the democratic will of American Jews. 

 

“We are encouraged by the fact that in the Sharansky-Troy plan, the Council members would be limited to two or three years in office. Some American Jewish organizations do not have term limits for their leaders. Entrenched leaders have developed a sense of entitlement to their positions of power. Benjamin Franklin warned against leaders who become enamored of power and money and come to view elected office as ‘a place of profit, and they will move heaven and earth to obtain it’.

 

“The Jewish community needs new leadership—new talent, new ideas, and new energy to breath life into its stagnant, undemocratic, and unrepresentative organizational structure. We applaud the Sharansky-Troy proposal as a means to that end.”

 

About the Committee:  The Committee on Ethics in Jewish Leadership is a grassroots movement that promotes accountability, transparency, and democracy in Jewish organizations and institutions. The members of the committee's Steering Committee are Prof. Susannah Heschel (Dartmouth College), Prof. Shulamit Magnus (Oberlin College, emer.), Thane Rosenbaum (New York University), and Dr. Rafael Medoff.

 

The committee's founding initiative, the Declaration on Ethics in Jewish Leadership, has been signed by more than 300 rabbis, scholars, and Jewish community activists. 

 

Web site: www.jewishleadershipethics.org

Contact: info@jewishleadershipethics.org

 
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