Meet Fresh Faces of Knesset as Israel Election Sparks Parliament Shake-Up

Women, Orthodox, and Ethiopians Make Debuts in Chamber

Not Grandma’s Knesset: The Israeli election brought an unprecedented flood of new members to the chamber.
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Not Grandma’s Knesset: The Israeli election brought an unprecedented flood of new members to the chamber.

By JTA

Published January 29, 2013.
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Now one of the party’s freshmen is one of Israel’s wealthiest and most successful venture capitalists.

Erel Margalit, 51, founder of Jerusalem Venture Partners, has been declared “king of the exits” by The Marker, Haaretz’s business magazine. From 2000 to 2010, he presided over seven $100 million exits, or sales of stakes in companies – the most in Israel.

But Labor’s social-democratic values speak to Margalit. He grew up on a kibbutz and in 2002 founded JVP Community, a fund to address social issues in Jerusalem. One of its flagship programs is Bakehila (Hebrew for “in the community”), which organizes educational programs for disadvantaged Jewish and Arab children.

After Labor split and fell to a historic nadir of eight seats in 2011, Margalit founded the Labor Now organization to recruit new members to the party and reinvigorate its values. He ran for the party chairmanship that year but dropped out of the race.

Margalit may still harbor leadership ambitions. After Labor won 15 seats last week, he criticized Yachimovich’s campaign focus for the party’s failure to do better.

“We should have expressed ourselves more clearly over our foreign policy agenda,” he said, according to the daily Israel Hayom.

As a child, Margalit lived for two years in Detroit. He later earned a doctorate in philosophy from Columbia University.

Orit Struk
JTA
Orit Struk

Orit Struk (Jewish Home)

Orit Struk, who comes from one of the most ideological communities in the West Bank, will have to pass through a checkpoint or two on her commute to her new job in the Knesset. She lives in Hebron, where she runs the Jewish community’s legal and diplomatic division and has made her home for 30 years.

A mother of 11 and grandmother of 12, Struk also is the founder and chairwoman of Human Rights in Yesha, an organization that advocates for settlers’ rights. In that capacity, Struk has fought against alleged abuse of settlers by soldiers and policemen, and advocated for the rights of those who protested Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.


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