(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Name: Eitan Broshi
Party: Zionist Union (Labor)
Hometown: Kibbutz Gvat
Family status: Married with five children and two grandchildren
Profession before becoming an MK: Secretary-general of the Kibbutz Movement
Why did you decide to enter politics?
The Kibbutz Movement was one of the most important forces in Israeli society, and its joint leadership took great steps to bring agricultural settlements to their rightful place. However, that is not enough, because in recent years rural areas disappeared from the political arena. In the last Knesset, there were no representatives from kibbutzim. [Zevulun Kalfa, a member of the 19th Knesset from Bayit Yehudi, lived in Kibbutz Shomriya. – L.H.] In my activities in the last two years as secretary-general, I realized that authentic political representation is necessary in the places where decisions are made in order to significantly promote the cement pillars on which the Kibbutz Movement and the country were gloriously built: Security, education, settlement, agriculture and industry.What are the first three bills you plan to propose?
Basic Law: Agriculture and Villages, diverting funding to cultural activities in the Negev and Galilee and recognizing educational activities as preferred work [for which one receives a state-funded bonus] after the army.What was the most interesting experience on the campaign trail?
Election meetings and gatherings were the justification for the whole campaign, as far as I’m concerned.
I met a broad swath of the public, not just those who live in agricultural settlements, and enthusiastic supporters whose words – including criticism – strengthened me.
It especially warmed my heart to meet teenagers who, though they couldn’t vote, were involved in and encouraged impressive political activity.
This Knesset has a record high number of women and Israeli Arabs. How do you think this will affect the way it functions and the kinds of changes it brings?
I am full of hope that MKs of every gender and type will promote tolerant and intelligent discourse, so that we can work together on good solutions for the entire population, specifically to develop the Negev and the Galilee.
What is your position on talks with the Palestinian Authority and a possible Palestinian state?
We have to be both strong and just. I see a great importance in diplomatic negotiations, which must be conducted wholeheartedly and with pure intentions. We should promote negotiations based on two states for two nations, while strengthening relations with moderate Arab countries and rehabilitate Israel’s international standing.What impact do you think the tension in US-Israel relations will have on us in the next few years?
I believe that the relations between the governments will remain proper and our positive cooperation will continue. As for relations between the heads of state, it’s still too early to say, but I hope the prime minister will not increase the disputes caused by his behavior in recent months. At the same time, we should promote negotiations [with the Palestinians], thus strengthening Israel’s standing in the world.
What should the government’s response be to growing global anti-Semitism?
Encourage aliya, strengthen Jewish education in the Diaspora and strengthen youth movements. I am a great believer in strengthening our connection with communities around the world, which will lead thousands of Jews to adopt Israel as their home. We must reinforce and strengthen the agencies and the plans dealing with absorbing immigrants, and become a clear address for Jews in communities [around the world].
Do you support maintaining the status quo on religion and state – including issues like marriage, public transportation on Shabbat, kashrut and others?
Tradition and Judaism belong to everyone. The status quo is fitting, but it is not sacred. I believe that somethings need to be recalibrated.
I think it is essential to increase the spirit of brotherhood in Israel by including all groups in the fabric of Israeli life and closing the rifts, while constantly encouraging the values of mutual respect, tolerance and courtesy.
What can be done to lower the cost of housing?
First, we need to pool resources and change the government policy in order to market and increase the supply of land for construction.
In the end, the government will have to market more land by setting target prices for homes. At the same time, it must remove the obstacles and unnecessary conditions that make it difficult to build in the periphery today.
What should the government do to lower the poverty rate?
First, it must understand that the poverty in Israel is a result of incorrect management of the economy. The solution is to have a true social democratic economy based on the free market, equal opportunity, free competition and an active government providing public services. To shrink the socioeconomic gaps, it is necessary for the state to significantly invest in education and higher education. Those are the main tools in creating equal opportunity.
In addition, we need more effective state-sponsored vocational training, developing places to work, improving the citizens’ ability to make a living, and, of course, lowering the cost of living.
Is there something else people should know about you?
I’m coming to the Knesset with a lot of experience and high performance capabilities, after years of activity in significant positions.
My mission in the Knesset is not something I take for granted, and therefore, it will be characterized by intensive and influential activity, as much as possible. I hope to act to strengthen agriculture and kibbutzim and moshavim, and to shape a policy that sees them as a central value, together with security and education, which are the infrastructure on which the country stands.