The 29 Women of the 20th Knesset

The next parliament will have the most women ever, but they must remember the women on the outside who need them.

Emil Salman

The 20th Knesset will have 29 women, two more than the outgoing parliament and a record for Israel’s legislature. Here’s a review of the women — not quite a quarter of the parliament — who will help make the country’s laws.

Now, my opinions are as far from those of Habayit Hayehudi as east is from west. But I was sorry to hear that we will not meet Shuli Moalem, one of the excellent members of the 19th Knesset, who just missed entering the 20th.

Moalem is an enlightened liberal religious woman, one who works on behalf of women in general. She has dealt with structural barriers, such as the committee that appoints judges for the religious courts.

I have been following her for years, since she successfully battled to preserve the allowances of IDF widows whose husbands died during their military service and who lost their pensions the minute they remarried.

Sadly, she joined Habayit Hayehudi, but she did great work in the Knesset.

For the current vote Moalem was No. 9 on Habayit Hayehudi’s list, but the party won only eight seats. She was pushed into the ninth slot because Bezalel Smotrich of Tekuma, who organized the 2006 anti-gay “March of the Animals” in Jerusalem, was guaranteed the eighth spot.

Such a nice man. Truly enlightened.

I assume Shuli’s day will come and she will return to the Knesset. With an extreme-right-wing party. With such people.

At this point Habayit Hayehudi is contributing only one woman to the Knesset, Ayelet Shaked.

A number of other excellent women will serve in the 20th Knesset, even if they also belong to problematic parties.

Orly Levy-Abekasis is a good MK, caring about social issues. She may be working in the harsh shadow of Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman, but she herself does excellent work. Sofa Landver from Yisrael Beiteinu will be there, too.

Yesh Atid: Three with energy

From Yesh Atid come Aliza Lavie, Karin Elharar and Yael German, who have proved themselves energetic lawmakers, even if their party leader, Yair Lapid, is busy inventing his own reality. One assumes the three women will do quite a bit in the next Knesset.

The Zionist Union has eight women, the most of any party in the next Knesset: Micah Biran, Tzipi Livni, Merav Michaeli, Stav Shaffir and Shelly Yachimovich are experienced and excellent MKs.

They are joined by three new and promising women: Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin, Ksenia Svetlova and Revital Swid.

What can we say about Meretz? Three of its five MKs are women — Zehava Galon, Tamar Zandberg and Michal Rozin — and all have impressive records of social activism.

The Joint List of Arab parties brings two women into the next Knesset: Haneen Zoabi, well known for her controversial views and busy mostly with the Palestinian issue; and Aida Touma-Suliman, who established the first shelters for battered women in the Arab community and for many years has attended to the never-ending needs of this population, such as in the advancement of women.

The women of Kulanu, four of the party’s 10 MKs, are all new to the Knesset: Rachel Azaria, Merav Ben Ari, Tali Floskob and Yifat Shasha-Biton.

And now for the Likud (after all, the dark religious parties will have a woman MK only when Mizrahim stop voting for Mizrahim).

There’s the racist Miri Regev, who has proved herself a fan of the corrupt, such as former Nazareth Ilit Mayor Shimon Gapso, and who turned the Knesset Interior and Environment Committee she heads into a circus.

Besides Regev five other women are members of the Likud faction.

Gila Gamliel has done nice work finding solutions to social problems and the advancement of women. Tzipi Hotovely also has a number of interesting laws to her name.

The other three are new to the Knesset and made it in because of the party’s big jump in the number of seats: Anat Berko, Nava Boker and Nurit Koren.

We can hope that the women of the new Knesset will remember the women on the outside who need them: those who earn 30 percent of what men in the same job earn; those who cannot go to work since there are not enough subsidized day-care centers; those who are routinely harassed.

Feminism is a valid word, and today — more than ever — we need women’s thinking in the Knesset.