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I left the country for only four days, and in my absence the festivities for the 17th Knesset began. And here the killjoy returns to announce that the happiness, in his opinion, is exaggerated and early. The optimistic assessments are based on the assumption that it can't get any worse, and therefore the 17th Knesset must be an improvement over the present one.

I have always had a hard time accepting this assumption - a kind of axiom that at first glance does not require proof. True, the outgoing Knesset did descend to the lowest rung, and two of its members - among the 27 people who have been interrogated - are already making their way to jail. Nonetheless, there is no confidence that the incoming Knesset holds a better future; one can only hope. But it is better for good hope to be based on a more realistic assumption: It can certainly be worse, and can descend even further.

Those who hope for the best hang their high hopes on the new people who are expected to fill the Knesset, the back benches as well as the front ones. A new Knesset member is almost by definition a clean Knesset member to whom no stains have stuck. That is the accepted thinking. But I don't accept accepted thinking. The preliminary advantage of new and clean faces in the public view is their anonymity - the public simply doesn't know them yet. Wait until you get to know them. There are surprises awaiting you, and they're not all necessarily pleasant.

Old new people were once stain-free, until it was suddenly proven otherwise. The political stage has an offensive propensity to reveal the hidden, and the media spotlight often reveals stains beneath the skin. What was not previously evident in "civilian life" can now be seen in the life of the conscript. Even those who had not been anonymous did not stand at center stage, were not the center of attention. And there have been cases in which people got into politics with a can of worms trailing behind them, but the backside at that point belonged to them alone. From now on their backside becomes their face, and to a large extent, our face as well. From now on, the X-ray will capture them from all angles.

I read in the pile of newspapers that collected in my absence that the next Knesset will include "more professors and doctors and generals." It is unnecessary to say that I am in favor of intelligent people, who are preferable to ignoramuses; I am in favor of military leaders whom the voters favor - what do I care. Experience teaches that higher education and a high rank do not always guarantee integrity, and are not always sufficient to ensure important parliamentary or ministerial contributions.

Only time will tell if there is really anything new under the sun. And until then, I stand by my approach: introduce novelty, but be suspicious. Meanwhile, I recommend taking a look at the veteran MKs who have withstood the heat of the kitchen for a long time and whose aprons are still a stainless white. That is the virtue: to be used but clean. There is no virtue in the new shirt still in its packaging. Let's see what it looks like after a few wears and laundry cycles. Go to these hard-working parliamentary ants, idle voter, and see their ways and vote for them.