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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Struk, 52, also runs the Land of Israel lobby in the Knesset that fought for settlement expansion and legalizing settlement outposts.

Days before the election, in the wake of the release of a video of Jeremy Gimpel, another Jewish Home candidate, speaking enthusiastically about the Dome of the Rock exploding, Struk said, “We pray that the Temple will rise again in Jerusalem.”

Struk at times was described as a liability in Bennett’s campaign to present Jewish Home as an inclusive right-wing party, not a settlers’ party. But in an interview shortly before the election with Israel’s Channel 2, Bennett denied she was a liability.

“I’m not hiding Orit Struk,” he said. “In every party, people vote with their conscience and it’s OK that among 15 people, we’ll have a representative of the right.”

Shimon Solomon (Yesh Atid)

Shimon Solomon, 44, has come a long way to the Knesset. When he was 12, Solomon set out on foot with his family from Ethiopia, traveling via Sudan to Israel.

Later, after becoming a social worker, he returned to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, from 2005 to 2007 to help others follow in his footsteps. He also works with Physicians for Human Rights as an advocate for refugees and is a former director of the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda, a center for orphans of the Rwandan genocide.

The future of refugees and migrants in Israel has been a topic of heated debate over the last year or two.

“He reminds me of my father,” said Lapid, the Yesh Atid chairman and son of late Israeli politician Tommy Lapid, as he introduced Solomon as a candidate in November. “My father was an immigrant. He came here in a ship from another country without knowing a word of Hebrew. And like Shimon, when he set foot in Israel, it became his.”

Solomon responded by promoting an ethic of service. “Everyone needs to give of what he has, even if he doesn’t have much,” he said.

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

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