On Sunday morning, Tamar Zandberg, who goes by “Tami,” tweeted “good morning
first grade,” with a picture of the Knesset, as she headed into a workshop for
new MKs. After years as a Meretz parliamentary assistant and Tel Aviv city
councilwoman, Zandberg hopes to use her experience and make changes on the
Name: Tamar Zandberg
Family status: Divorced, one child
Profession before becoming an MK: Tel
Aviv city councilwoman, parliamentary aide to Meretz MK Ran Cohen
Why did you
decide to enter politics?
I’m not new in politics, even though I’m new in the
Knesset. I had a political job before this, on the Tel Aviv City Council. My job
is political, and the Knesset is the central place for that. I thought I was at
a point in my public career where I’m ready, so I ran, and I’m happy I was
What are the first three bills you plan to propose?
many topics that remain with me from my work in Tel Aviv, like affordable
housing, public transportation in general, and specifically on Saturdays. I also
have a broad, developed portfolio of feminist ideas, and I hope to get to other
areas of my left-wing ideology, like the peace process and social justice in
What was the most interesting experience on the campaign trail?
The campaign was one long sequence of amazing experiences. I think the intensive
experience of meeting the public, people of all types and from all sectors, was
very interesting. I went to high schools and colleges and nursing homes, and the
fascinating lesson I learnt is that everyone cares about the same issues. In
Druse villages, or in the wealthiest neighborhoods of Tel Aviv, I heard the same
complaints. I will take that lesson with me to the Knesset.
has a record number of women and religious people. How do you think this will
affect the way it functions and the kinds of changes it brings?
We may have the
highest number of women ever, but it is still very low and far from the goal of
50 percent, which is the percentage of women among the public. When I look at
the Knesset, I think its makeup is encouraging compared to the last one, which
was full of right-wing, conservative extremists. The new Knesset is a call for
change from the public, especially from new, young MKs. The change of
generations is the big story here.
Do you think haredim and Arabs should
do military or national service, and if so, how should the state enforce it?
think the topic of equality in the burden has lost all proportion. This
militaristic discourse is passe. We need to think out of the box for new ideas
to take Israel forward.
In the case of haredim, one of the problems is
that the exemption [from IDF service] keeps them out of work, which then brings
them poverty and economic problems for the whole country. This needs to be
fixed, not necessarily through enlistment, but by allowing them to enter the
A lot needs to be fixed before Arabs are forced to enlist.
There is built-in discrimination against them, which is a tradition over the
years, and on top of that there is the occupation. We need to deal with that
before deciding if they have to serve or not.
Do you support a
religious-Zionist chief candidate, such as Rabbi David Stav, for the chief
We haven’t decided, as a faction, what our opinion is on that issue,
but I think it is very important. I am worried about the direction national
Zionism is going in, which is extreme nationalism and sanctification of the
land. This is why we can’t reach a peace agreement.
What can be done to
lower the cost of housing in Israel?
The price of housing isn’t like the price
of cottage cheese. It’s much more complex. No government has dealt with this
properly, and now it is a crisis. One of the messages of the [summer 2011]
social protests is that we need a national emergency plan to deal with
everything: Ownership of the land, allowing builders to use the land, mortgage
issues, lack of public housing, and more. We need a comprehensive, broad
solution. Meretz plans to propose a national plan that will include all of the
What do you think can be cut from the budget, which must be
passed within 45 days of the government’s swearing in?
Budget cuts will only
increase the deficit. We need to totally change our priorities. This government
brought in neoliberal policies making tycoons and settlers richer. Public
criticism was so clear [in the 2011 protests].
Our policy is
social-democratic, and wants to split resources in a different way, so everyone
can grow and we will move out of this recession. The last government cut social
services and increased the deficit, which is a special talent; I don’t know how
they did it. We need something else.
What is your position on talks with
the Palestinian Authority and a possible Palestinian state?
Meretz supports a
Palestinian state beyond the Green Line, with changes in the borders. Talks
should begin immediately. Extremists on both sides have gotten stronger as a
result of the diplomatic freeze.
Do you support the adoption of the
Edmund Levy Report, which recommends the state approve unauthorized Jewish
settlements in the West Bank?
George Orwell wrote about the government trying to
say lies are the truth in 1984. Lots of reports can say there is no occupation,
but there is a reality in the territories. We are occupying a foreign nation
with a military government and preventing the people there from exercising
political rights. If that’s not occupation, then what is?