Knesset member to speak in Englewood

Knesset member to speak in Englewood

Ayelet Shaked is the model of a modern Israeli parliamentarian.

She is a rookie, like more than a third of the Knesset members elected in January who never have served in the parliament before.

She’s not a long-time party official – she won her seat in the right-wing Jewish Home party by campaigning hard in party primaries, after a mixture of public and private service. After a computer engineering career at Texas Instruments, she worked for Benjamin Netanyahu’s office when he was in the opposition and then helped found the My Israel movement to promote Zionism and nationalism in Israel.

Ayelet Shaked

The group boasts more than 100,000 fans on Facebook.

Her partner in the effort: Naftali Bennett, the former commando and software millionaire who led the Jewish Home party to become the fourth largest in this Knesset.

And like many Knesset members before her, she will be coming to northern New Jersey in the near future. She will be helping the Koby Mandell Foundation by appearing at a parlor meeting for the organization, which runs therapeutic healing programs for people who have lost a mother, father, sister, brother, or child to terrorism.

The foundation was formed by the family of Koby Mandell, who was 13 years old when he was murdered by terrorists in 2001.

Ms. Shaked hadn’t heard of the foundation before the Mandells called her to help, but “Since I remember very clearly the tragedy of their son, I said I’d come,” she said.

She said the biggest surprise in her Knesset career so far is “the influence that I have. The ability to do meaningful things. We have a big influence in the government as a party – more influence than I thought I would have.”

As a legislator within Mr. Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, she can pass and influence many laws.

“I thought a Knesset member has less power than I see now. There’s really influence, involvement, in every area of life,” she said. “I’m working very closely with every faction, even from the [opposition] Meretz and Labor parties. There are lots of social and economic issues where we cooperate with every other faction, and also with the charedim a lot.”

One area where she is not cooperating with the charedim: The effort to draft them, one of the Jewish Home’s legislative priorities, an effort being carried out together with coalition partner Yesh Atid. The Jewish Home is a product of political mergers that include the National Religious Party, which long represented Israel’s modern Orthodox community. Ms. Shaked herself is not Orthodox; “from the research that we did after the election, around a third of our voters are secular,” she reported.

Ms. Shaked grew up in Tel Aviv, where she still lives. On her mother’s side her ancestors came to Israel with the First Aliya in the 19th century; her father came from Iran but his roots were Iraqi.

The official purpose of her visit to the United States next month is the Saban Forum, a discussion of Middle Eastern issues hosted by the Brookings Institution in Washington, “I think I’ll be the only right-winger there; me and Avigdor Lieberman,” she said.

Speaking by phone from Israel on Sunday, she condemned the temporary accord reached with Iran as “a bad agreement. I read an article that said diplomacy is better than war, but bad diplomacy can cause a bad war.

“We think Iran was suffering from sanctions, and that exactly at that point when we could push more, the West decided to reach the agreement. That’s the consensus in Israel, actually.”

Who: Knesset Member Ayelet Shaked

Who: Meets for a discussion over sushi and sake

Who: Thursday, December 5, 7:30-10 p.m.

Who: A private home in Englewood

Who: $180 per couple

Who: (301) 576-6235

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