Pregnant TV Star May Be Just the Ticket for Yisrael Beiteinu

If chosen, Anastasia Michaeli would be the first MK to give birth in office, and the first convert in the Knesset.

If the committee in Yisrael Beiteinu in charge of arranging the names on its Knesset list puts Anastasia Michaeli in a place likely to get into the Knesset, the star of the Russian-Israeli TV channel is will be setting a precedent on two fronts: She will be the first woman MK to give birth in office, and will be the first convert in the Knesset.

Michaeli, 33, was born in St. Petersburg, and has an M.A. in broadcast communication from the local university. She is also a former beauty queen of her city. She followed her husband, businessman Yossi Michaeli, to Israel, where she pursued the modeling career she began in Paris, and since 2003 has been the anchor on the show "The Pleasures of Life" on Russian-language Channel 9. The program has been criticized for flaunting a lifestyle that most of its new-immigrant viewers cannot afford. Michaeli told Ma'ariv the program "offers a time-out from the difficult news and current affairs programs."

The Michaelis have seven children and one on the way, a fact that has attracted attention in view of the low birthrate among Russian immigrants. Yossi Michaeli, a former Israeli boxing champion, says of his wife: "I believe that because Anastasia is a role model in the Russian community, hundreds of babies will be born in the coming years."

In that same interview, Anastasia Michaeli said: "A man remains a man, at least in terms of his sexual needs, even in Judaism. A man can go to another city and can sleep with another woman and go back to his wife. A woman has no such privileges. A woman must be a mother and clean."

Previously, Michaeli was placed 44th on the Kadima list. She claimed that her slot showed disrespect to immigrants, although there were five other Russian-Israelis above her on the slate. Movement between parties with differing ideologies is common among representatives of Russian immigrants. It was Shimon Peres who initially brought her into Kadima. MK Sofa Landver, another Peres pick for Kadima, also moved to Yisrael Beiteinu. Sources in Kadima's campaign say Michaeli talked about withdrawal. She is now likely to adopt a harder line.

A Russian immigrant politician says Lieberman wants to reduce the Russian segment in the list, and that Michaeli's placement is a part of that, since she is also attractive to veteran Israelis.

Michaeli could not be reached for comment at press time.