Interview with Karl Moore for the Globe and Mail

KARL MOORE This is Karl Moore talking management for the Globe and Mail. This evening I am in Tel Aviv, Israel, with 20 students from McGill and 20 students from Western Ontario. The unusual sound you hear in the background is rain and after a year of drought. Everybody, other than the students, are really happy about that. So this evening I am talking to one of our speakers in our program here, Einat Wilf, who is a future member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, as well as a frequent commentator to the world’s media. Good evening, Einat.EINAT WILF Good evening.KARL MOORE When we look at the electoral system in Israel; the election was about a month ago and there it is still not settled who will be the Prime Minister. How would you like electoral system here to be reformed?EINAT WILF I actually tend to oppose, and oppose very strongly, in my writing and in my speaking opportunities any change in the electoral system. The reason that I oppose change to the system is that I’ve learnt that there is a law of unintended consequences and often when people look to reform systems they look at what’s broken but are not aware of what works because the things that work are always the things that we tend to discount and not notice. Now Israel is one of 21 counties, only 21 countries in the world, who have been solid democracies for the last 60 years, or since their inception, without any major constitutional crisis; no military coup, and no suspension of election. Israel, with all the challenges, the massive immigration, the wars, has been able to sustain itself as a solid democracy, have major achievements, become one of the world’s leading economies, and I think we should credit the system with that. So to some people it might seem messy but I think the system has protected us, has allowed us to be a very vibrant democracy, and we should be very very wary with making any changes. Now, according to our system, we first elect the Knesset, and that’s the only thing we elect, we elect the Knesset, we elect our parliament, we elect the parties and then the parties get a month to six weeks in order to form a government. So it’s actually perfectly normal that it takes a month to six weeks after the elections to form a government. That’s how it works and that’s part of our system, it’s worked for 60 years and I do not share the impatience that other people have with our systems and I think we need to be very weary because it has done us a lot of good.KARL MOORE A little over, or about, 20 per cent of the Knesset members are women and you are encouraged, young women implicitly here, to run for office and be involved. How do women lead differently? It’s implicit that women are going to lead differently and do something different. So in your view how do women lead differently then?EINAT WILF I am not sure yet that women lead differently but I think that we want to have more women in power as a value in itself. The fact that young women can look to the government, can look to the parliament, and say, “This is something I can aspire to” and I think one of the important things is really that young women can feel that they can aspire to anything they want and the way they develop their aspirations is by looking around and seeing where other women are. So I think in itself, even if women were not leading differently, I think that’s an important value in itself and I want to encourage that. The other aspect is also when you have more women in parliament, more women in government, the fact that you are a woman no longer is important and that also is important for women to free them from that particularity that being a woman is somehow different. And then, also, when you look at countries where there is a high representation of women in politics, they also tend to have better social structures. Now, it’s tough to know which is the hen or which is the egg. Is a society first more beneficial towards women, more egalitarian and then you have more women in government or, because you have more women in government, the social structures tend to be more egalitarian and more supporting of women going to work and so forth? So these things tend to go together and I think both of the value in itself, and in terms of the benefits to society, I think we will benefit from having more women in government. I don’t know that women as a group will lead differently than men, but certainly by tapping into 50 per cent of the population you are tapping into a great talent pool and you are increasing diversity. I for one, I used to be very suspicious of the claims of diversity, but having experienced that, in the United States and in Europe, it has real value to the people who are in a diverse environment and the people that are in a diverse environment begin to think differently. So I think that even men who are in the environment with many more women leaders are likely to lead differently.