Amid all of the speculation about post-election coalition building, let’s not overlook the exciting fact that a record number of women will serve in the 19th Knesset. With yesterday’s vote, the number of seats occupied by female MKs has risen from 22 to 26.
This means that women comprise over 23% of the Knesset. While this statistic does not come close to representing the proportion of women in Israeli society, it is better than the situation in the U.S. Here, a record 98 women were recently elected to Congress, but that represents only 18% of all those serving on Capitol Hill.
As would be expected, the 19th Knesset will include some familiar faces, including Tzipi Livni, Shelly Yachimovich, Miri Regev, Tzipi Hotovely and Zehava Gal-On, but with the election of 53 new MK’s there are plenty of fresh faces as well. Among them are former Herzliya mayor Yael German; scholar Aliza Lavie; social activist Adi Kol; attorney Karin Elharar; Jewish educator Ruth Calderon; attorney Penina Tamnu-Shata (the first female MK of Ethiopian origin); vocational training expert Rena Frenkel; Hod Hasharon city council member Yifat Kariv of Yesh Atid; journalist Merav Michaeli; social protest leader Stav Shaffir; doctoral student Michal Biran of Labor; rightist activist Ayelet Shaked; Yesha Human Rights Organization chair Orit Strook of Habayit Hayehudi; former CEO of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel Michal Rozin, and Tel Aviv-Yafo councilwoman Tamar Zandberg of Meretz.
Clearly — and thankfully — very few Israelis heeded Religious Zionist leader Rabbi Shlomo Aviner’s (out-of-touch) warning that women, for the sake of modesty, should not vote or run for the Knesset. Sorry, Rabbi, but it’s obvious that more and more Israelis think a woman’s place is in the house. That is, the Jewish State’s house of representatives.