Rivlin: Apathy and Indifference are Our Greatest Dangers

January 4, 2015  

After receiving the Israel Democracy Institute’s Democracy Index for 2014, President Reuven Rivlin stressed the importance of rebuilding the public’s trust in the government. 

The index, published Sunday, revealed that a significant portion of the population reported difficulties with their personal finances and that over 40% believe the Israeli leadership is corrupt. 

Addressing the results, Rivlin called on the government to place equal priority on security and social issues. 

“The citizens of Israel today demand their elected leaders raise both issues side by side – the issue of security and the social issues.  Why do we presume that Israel can excel in the field of security, and not on socioeconomic issues?”

Continuing, Rivlin argued that it is Israeli government’s responsibility to offer hope to “the youth. We must understand that hope, and only hope, is a remedy for violence. Violence which is to a great extent the result of social and economic polarization.” 

“Indeed, the social polarization and economic gaps, which have reached an unprecedented high in the State of Israel, are potentially explosive and destructive, and exists between the periphery and the center, between the ultra-orthodox and mainstream, and between Arabs and Jews.”

According to Rivlin, because of internal polarization, Israel’s socio-economic issue must top the government’s agenda. “This is a strategic need.  Our ability to proffer an accessible and inclusive vision of the ‘Israeli dream’, is dependent upon our ability to provide hope to each and every young person in Israel.” 

Discussing the public’s lack of trust in the country’s leadership, Rivlin stated he was “not surprised.” 

“I suspect the system has warranted as much. A lack of faith in public services and the system of governance constitutes a potentially fatal blow to democracy. Proper management; transparency upon transparency; ethics of the elected and public officials – these are the key to restoring public faith in the system.”

Rivlin also expressed apprehension over the figure that 75% of the public think elected officials put their own interests ahead of the public. 

“I do not believe this to be the case, but the fact that this is reflected as the experience of the public is serious, and needs addressing,” he said.

“Ultimately, when there is a no faith in the system, the public feels it is unable to make a difference, or have an impact.  And in truth, the Index shows that more than fifty percent of Israelis, from across the population, feel that regardless of who they vote for – it will make no difference.” 

Concluding, Rivlin warned that “the greatest danger in the upcoming elections is apathy and indifference.” 

“The absurdity is that the lowest voter turnout is in the periphery and the Arab sector – specifically in areas most in need of representation.  The responsibility of rebuilding trust, lies both with the political system and the public.  The public cannot allow itself to indulge in the dangers of apathy, of which the only casualty would be the public itself.” 

“It is true that we have had elections forced upon us, but accordingly, I call on the public to create a political reality in which the government will have not only the right, but the capacity to govern,” Rivlin urged. 

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