For Every Mizrahi MK, There Are Two Ashkenazis

There's no doubt that this is the Knesset of the elderly. The last Knesset opened with only three members aged 70 or older: Ariel Sharon, Yosef Lapid and Shimon Peres, the old man of the current Knesset, who is now 82. The 17th Knesset has eight members aged 70 or older, half of them from the Pensioners' Party.

About half the voters are no older than 39, but only eight MKs (7 percent) in that age bracket were voted into the Knesset, among them one who is younger than 30 (Alex Miller of Yisrael Beiteinu, who is 28). The 16th Knesset had nine MKs 39 or younger, including two below 30: Inbal Gavrieli and Gila Gamliel, both from the Likud.

Seventeen women (14 percent of the MKs) were elected this year, including one Arab woman - Nadia Hilu (Labor) - and no religious women. The total comes to one less than the 18 women elected to the last Knesset. It is also below the 17-percent world average for women in the legislature; the average is 40 percent in the Scandinavian countries. Israel places No. 74 in the world for representation of women in the legislature - below Sudan and Sierra Leone.

Of the MKs elected this year, 39 - nearly one-third - are new to the Knesset, a slight drop from the 41 new MKs in the 16th Knesset. Eleven of the new parliamentarians come from Kadima, eight from Yisrael Beiteinu and seven from the Pensioners' Party.

This Knesset is characterized by the return of the security and academic elite, although it does not include the legal and business elite. Polls conducted at the beginning of the election campaign predicted that no less than 20 professors and doctorate-holders would join the Knesset, compared to 15 in the last term.

But with Kadima not doing as well as predicted, the new Knesset will have to make do with 17.

The last Knesset had no president or rector of an academic institution, but this one has four: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev President Avishay Braverman, an economics professor; former Hebrew University of Jerusalem rector Menachem Ben-Sasson, a Jewish history professor; former Haifa University president Shlomo Breznitz, a psychology professor; and the president of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Uriel Reichman, a law professor.

It's reasonable to assume that the experience these professors have accrued in academic politics will help them survive in the Knesset.

Altogether, the Knesset will have four PhD's in economics, three in political science and three in medicine. It's worthwhile to note that five out of 10 members of the Arab parties have doctorates (including one Jewish member, Dov Hanin).

The civil agenda of the election campaign was not expressed in the number of generals in the Knesset, which jumped from 11 former senior officials in the security establishment to 15.

While the last Knesset had only one person who had headed a security institution - former Mossad chief Danny Yatom (Labor) - this Knesset has four. Yatom has been joined by former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Shaul Mofaz and former Shin Bet security service heads Ami Ayalon and Avi Dichter. Six out of 15 of the generals had held senior positions in the covert services and another one comes from the police force, and there is also a female general.

There's no doubt that the settlers have already undergone a convergence in the Knesset: The number of settler MKs decreased from 10 in the last Knesset to eight in the present one, constituting 8 percent of the Knesset members.

One reason for this is that although Yisrael Beiteinu is a right-wing party, many of its candidates are Russian-speaking immigrants rather than settlers. Fourteen immigrants, or 12 percent of MKs, will serve in this Knesset, including eight Yisrael Beiteinu members.

But although this Knesset has four more immigrants than the last one, it has no representatives of the Ethiopian population.

The social agenda of the elections was expressed partly in this Knesset's large amount of MKs who are or have been involved in advancing the rights of workers and pensioners. This Knesset has 12 such advocates - including Labor Party leader Amir Peretz, the former Histadrut labor federation chairman - compared to seven in the previous Knesset.