Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Silence of Israel's PM

I am jealous of the US. I am jealous of them because they have a leader who communicates. Obama's weekly YouTube video communications may be a gimmick, but nonetheless they express a deep respect for the electorate and a significant commitment to the spirit of democracy as he engages with the nation directly, explaining and inspiring, informing and sharing. These video communiques allow the general public to hear his messages and to understand his policy, to comprehend how their country is being run, on a regular basis.

And how about us here in Israel? Silence! - Bibi is supposed to be the great Communicator, the media genius, the TV wonder kid. And yet, we don't hear him. Except for a snippet or two at the start of a cabinet meeting, or a 5 second soundbite from a conference speech, I don't feel that my PM is communicating with me.

This is a problem at a number of levels. The first is that I don't know his plans: not on health, education, energy, let alone the Peace process and the problem of Hamas and what have you. Sometimes, one has the feeling that policies are invented at the last minute, that it is all very Israeli, patched together, off the cuff. Tell us the game plan, demonstrate that there is a plan, a strategy.

Second, there is the question of the national mood, the sense of leadership. Talking, imparting a message, communication is vital. It allows a leader to instill a sense of mission and common purpose in the nation. To share enthusiasm and passion, to have the nation embark on a journey together, to get everybody on board.

We need this desperately here in Israel. With so many challenges, some vision and hope are in short supply. If the PM were to address the nation regularly, we might be able to join together to address in unity certain key national objectives. The PM doesn't even need to reveal his Peace strategy (although it might be nice.) He could simply discuss topics less in conflict eg. Clean energy, Higher Education, the Zionist endeavour of settling the Negev and Galil, and outline thoughts on the more complicated and controversial policies too. we would like to hear his thoughts, his values, his ideas, hopes and fears. If ideas are shared, if thoughts are transmitted then we can truly work together.

And furthermore even when we disagree, if policies were expressed, presented and explained, it could foster a sophisticated discussion, rather than the awful political climate of shallow slogans and empty platitudes.

Why don't Israeli Prime Ministers talk to the people?

Sharon made silence and art form when he realised (or his spin doctors) that words just lose votes. He made silence a virtue when it came to electioneering, allowing images and a slogan or two to do the talking. Olmert followed in his footsteps talking little in election campaigns. and the result is that Israelis are not shocked when Prime Minister's make completely unpredictable policy shifts, light years from their election promises. Israelis are unfazed. as if to say... what do you expect?

But politicians are answerable to the nation. We simply know too little, we have not heard the leaders articulate their policy, we - the citizens - do not understand the views and proposed actions of our leaders , the directions in which they are leading us.

Go on Mr. Netanyahu. Talk to us! You are the Communicator. Tell us what is on your mind. Include us in the debate, in the conversation. Outline your plans, share your views, your policies and dreams. Let us share your vision. Let us begin a conversation. Let's get it out in the open. Enough feeling that all the decisions are made, ad hoc, behind closed doors, in dark shadowy rooms by faceless nameless advisers and aides! Enough of feeling that everything is a political compromise. We need more transparency. We need more inspiration, more vision. Talk to us! You will only win friends that way... and you may even convert some enemies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the United States, its all a farce. Obama just does it to look cool. It's all for the PR and the ratings. Democracy? What democracy!