A Brief Guide for Freshman MKs

Perhaps the Knesset members are still exhausted from the election campaign, or maybe they're saving their energy for a tiring Knesset term. Either way, their conduct yesterday was commendable - there were no outbursts or shouting episodes - and everyone got sworn in properly.

Three speeches were made, and that of David Ben-Gurion reverberated, without losing any of its vitality; it turns out there was something to him, that founding father of ours. President Shimon Peres' words were less Ben-Gurionish due to excessive effort and a flowery abundance of talk of the future. And Michael Eitan, the interim Knesset speaker, made tasteful comments whose length did not take away from their quality.

One hundred and twenty representatives of the people's choice - except that they aren't really. It wasn't the people who chose most of them, and it wasn't the people who decided which spot they would have on the party tickets. Some were picked by a religious rabbi, while others held the fancy of secular ones; some were selected by committee, and others by primary.

And now it is the elected MKs who must elect whether to be Knesset members worthy of the name or whether they would rather do nothing but survive through several Knesset terms; there is not necessarily any correlation between the two categories.

Those who are worthy of the name are those who are willing to lose a photo op as long as they retain their humanity, those who will speak in a voice all their own, especially in times of emergency, when the national chorus is singing.

Those who survive through several Knesset terms are those who are inspired by the Ethics of the Fathers to find a rabbi or acquire a friend in the party - otherwise known as a vote contractor - and bestow their favor upon him, since the next primary will be taking place all too soon.

Most of today's MKs are people I don't know, so I won't be able to offer them individually tailored advice. I'll have to make do with an off-the-rack suggestion: Instead of following the custom of important people who don't want to be bothered, leave your phone number listed in the phone book. The telephone is a pretty good way of investing more in your relationship with the public and less in public relations. Perhaps that way, you'll get some of the callers who are still contacting me, four years after I retired from the Knesset.