|Photo by: Courtesy Knesset|
Meet the MK: Ronen Hoffman
By GIL HOFFMAN
Yesh Atid’s No. 19 supports party platforms on burden of service, lower housing costs, downsizing gov’t.
The last player drafted by the US National Football League has the distinction
of being called “Mr. Irrelevant.”
Ronen Hoffman, the 19th MK on Yesh
Atid's Knesset list, was a longshot to make it into the parliament. But he did
make it in, and is determined to become one of the most relevant
Hoffman cares about the connection between Israel and the
Jewish Diaspora. After working at summer camps in Atlanta and California and at
Israel’s Consulate in Atlanta, he started Camp Kimama, an international summer
camp that brings Jewish teens from more than 40 countries to Israel, to attend
camp together with native Israelis.
“It is important to bring students
from abroad to Israel,” Hoffman said. “It gives them a real experience of a
Hoffman taught political psychology, among other things,
at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center. Now that he is an MK, he will have
many interesting specimens to study among his colleagues in the
Name: Ronen Hoffman
Party: Yesh Atid
and raised in Afula, now lives in Herzliya
Family status: Divorced with with an
18-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter. His exwife was born in the US and
lived in Australia.
Profession before becoming an MK: I was the
information officer at the Israeli Consulate in Atlanta. I served as personal
assistant to [former prime minister] Yitzhak Rabin in the 1992 election. I
coordinated the Israeli delegation to peace talks in Syria. Then I moved to
I started the first Israeli think tank together with
Prof. Boaz Ganor: the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at
IDC Herzliya. I received a doctorate from Kings College in London on peace
negotiations in the Middle East. Since then, I have taught government,
diplomacy, strategy on international relations and political psychology at the
Why did you decide to enter politics?
For me, politics has always
been my profession. Working with Rabin and the peace process was an
internship for me. When I moved to academia, I still dealt with politics but on
a theoretical level. I never left politics. I always wanted to be an MK, but I
was waiting for the right framework.
When [Yesh Atid leader Yair] Lapid
entered politics, I emailed him and he replied.
We met when I went to a
parlor meeting and then I became involved in the campaign as a volunteer. We got
to know each other, and I was happy he put me on the list. We knew we were
gaining momentum. I was optimistic but careful.
What are the first three
bills you plan to propose?
I am currently studying. I don’t know what specific
bills I will propose yet. I will focus on political negotiations in the Middle
East, public diplomacy, helping youth movements, informal education, and the
agricultural communities in the periphery.
What was the most interesting
experience you had on the campaign trail?
I was fascinated by the motivation of
people who had no experience in professional politics, who volunteered and
contributed by being active in order to bring about change. I saw it all across
the country. It was moving.
This Knesset has a record high number of
women and religious people. How do you think this will affect the way it
functions and the kinds of changes it brings? I would like to see more women. We
have made progress but there is a long way to go. I hope that the Knesset will
be a reflection of the general public, so it will be a microcosm of the public
as a whole.
Do you think haredim and Arabs should do military or national
service, and if so, how should the state enforce it?
I am all for Yesh Atid’s
plan for equalizing the burden of service. It is the only serious plan, it is
realistic, and I think it should be implemented. I think our party should not
compromise on this issue.
Do you support a religious- Zionist chief
candidate, such as Rabbi David Stav, for the chief rabbinate?
I am not familiar
with that issue yet.
What can be done to lower the cost of housing in
The Yesh Atid platform calls for building 150,000 apartments for rent on
state land to lower housing prices for young people and reduce the price of
homes to purchase because the supply of apartments would increase.
do you think can be cut in the budget, which must be passed within 45 days of
the government’s swearing-in?
The government itself should be smaller. There is
so much money for ministries that are not really needed. I would cut the fat of
the government. I would also reevaluate how to fund the education system, but
that is more complicated.
What is your position on talks with the
Palestinian Authority and a possible Palestinian state?
I think we should
immediately go back to the negotiating table with the PA. I support Yesh Atid’s
plan for a two-state solution. It was a mistake that Netanyahu’s government
ignored the PA. As a result, the Hamas got stronger. We should go back to
speaking to the PA.
It is good that [US President Barack] Obama is coming
[in March] and Israel is on his agenda. I hope it will create momentum that will
bring us back to the table.
Do you support the adoption of the Edmund
Levy Report, which recommends the state approve unauthorized Jewish settlements
in the West Bank?
When I answer questions like this, I make a point of studying
it and reading it.