Eyewitness Report from the Knesset

Eyewitness Report from the Knesset

Zehava Gal-On (left) with Dina Charnin

Dina Charnin, Partners’ former president and a current vice president, is visiting Israel and has just sent this note, along with some photos:

I’m sitting in the Knesset, listening to the full assembly; I heard Tamar Zandberg, and then Nitzan Horowitz (both from Meretz) speak during the regular bi-weekly opposition call for a vote of no-confidence in the government. It was Hadash party MK Dov Khenin’s motion this time, and so I heard him first; he’s an excellent speaker, very passionate about poverty in Israel, among other topics. Tami and Nitzan were also excellent. They raised issues about how the search for the kidnappers is more than that: it’s creating more violence, a cover for the government to bring unnecessary violence and persecution to the territories, that we should be working together with the Palestinian Authority, not creating more hatred, that Israel is too coldly uninterested in the blood of Palestinian children that our soldiers spill ‘by accident’; “Don’t we all have the same red blood?” Nitzan asked. Tamar asked the government what is their solution? They don’t seem to have one.

Merav Michaeli of Labor chats with Zehava Gal-On; Nitzan Horowitz stands at left
This is the second time I am here in the Knesset; the first time was with Partners on our annual Israel Symposium.  I am amazed at the informality, of Knesset Members yelling at each other, but also disgusted by some on the right who say the most disgusting things: like telling our Meretz MKs that they shouldn’t be allying themselves with “those” Arabs, meaning MKs of the predominantly Arab parties. This is complete and utter zilzul — a put down or dismissal — of the other, who are fellow citizens and Knesset Members.  Naturally, the Meretz MKs were yelling back.
The discussion about force-feeding prisoners was put off, at least until next week. I think there has been a lot of pressure from Israeli medical organizations, and others, indicating that this bill is untenable. 
Looking up: Zehava Gal-On and Meretz MK Michal Rozin; Ilon Gilon sits front left

Most exciting for me was that Zehava Gal-On, the Meretz party chairperson, invited me to sit with them at their Meretz caucus meeting; she introduced me as I sat with them at their oval table — where they go over the agenda for today and tomorrow, discussing all the bills and how they will vote. All their members were there except for Issawi Frej (unfortunately, for he was the only Meretz MK I haven’t yet met).  And most of the MK legislative and political assistants and other party workers, like Dror Morag (Secretary General of Meretz), were there; I also met Omer Reshef, who is in charge of all the media/social media networking, and writes Zehava’s biweekly newsletter.  

There were many bills discussed, all the big and little details that government deals with: frozen budgets, the structure of the Chief Rabbi office, battered women’s shelters, and issues of the flower growers association, etc. They all spoke very, very fast Hebrew, with a lot of inside jokes (MK Ilan Gilan is very funny), so I didn’t follow everything. It was all very collegial, and much less hierarchical than anything I can imagine in the United States.
By | 2014-06-26T11:14:00-04:00 June 26th, 2014|Blog|0 Comments

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