Meet the New MK: Yaron Mazuz

Mazuz’s mother survived the Holocaust in Tunisia and then went to Israel on a freight ship to Haifa in 1947.

YARON MAZUZ. (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Name: Yaron Mazuz

Age: 52
Hometown: Kiryat Bialik
Family status: Married, three children
Profession before becoming an MK: deputy mayor of Kiryat Bialik, an unpaid position, and chairman of the New Social Movement in the Haifa suburb.
Mazuz’s mother, Chaya, who was born in Gabès, Tunisia, will light a candle in the Knesset’s Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony on Thursday, representing North African Jews killed in the Holocaust.
“During the Holocaust, the Jews of Gabès suffered from hunger, death and widespread abuse by the Germans and many were sent to Auschwitz,” Mazuz said.
In 1947, Chaya Mazuz’s parents and other Jews boarded a freight ship to Haifa Port, where they were caught by the British and sent to a camp in Cyprus. A year later, she and her parents were able to move to Israel.
Why did you decide to enter politics? I came to the conclusion that the only way to have a real influence on the public agenda and promote my worldview and the topics that are important to me is to be in the Knesset.

What are the first three bills you plan to propose?
I plan to get to know the Knesset’s work and be fluent in it in order to do serious work. I plan to deal with social issues and help the middle class. I intend to look into injustices by the National Insurance Institute and pass laws that will help the handicapped, the elderly and Holocaust survivors. I plan to work to strengthen local government, which is residents’ address for every problem they have, even if they’re connected to government ministries. I also asked to be the head of the Caucus to Strengthen Haifa, the Krayot [the city’s bayside suburbs] and the North, and I plan to address the unique needs of residents of the South through the caucus and through legislation, including calling for just distribution of municipal tax money in the area.
What was the most interesting experience on the campaign trail? The most interesting part of the campaign was meeting all parts of Israeli society and coming into contact with people.

This Knesset has a record 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’m happy that there are many women in the current Knesset. I hope that female MKs will use their power to promote and represent the unique interests women have and bring important reforms. I see myself as part of any effort to advance women’s rights in Israel.
I hope that the Joint (Arab) List will faithfully represent all citizens equally, including those of Haifa, the Krayot and the North, and that they will not incite and support extremists.
What is your position on talks with the Palestinian Authority and a possible Palestinian state? I didn’t come to the Knesset to deal with diplomatic issues and I trust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the defense minister to protect Israel’s existential interests.

What impact do you think the tension in US-Israel relations will have on us in the next few years?
The joint interests of the two countries are incontrovertibly strong and go beyond a dispute between their leaders. It’s not a personal argument, but one on principle, and that happens between allies sometimes. [US President Barack] Obama himself said that after a new government is formed, he will invite Prime Minister Netanyahu [to the White House].
What should the government’s response be to growing global anti-Semitism? The State of Israel needs to work on its public diplomacy in embassies around the world and strengthen our relations with other countries. In my opinion, we need an aggressive policy in response to acts of terrorism against Jews throughout the world and to cooperate closely [with other countries] on the matter. We cannot give up putting the topic on the global agenda and making sure that history doesn’t repeat itself.

Do you support maintaining the status quo on religion and state – including issues like marriage, public transportation on Shabbat, kashrut and others?
Yes, certainly.
What can be done to lower the cost of housing? We must increase the supply of apartments in the market and free up land for construction.
We should make sure small apartments of three to four rooms are built for young couples, build public housing and provide benefits for those who move to the periphery.
We should have more agreements like the one I took part in arranging between the national and local government in Kiryat Bialik to build 7,254 homes. I know the topic well. We have to flood the market [with homes] and the state should pay a significant part of the development costs in the neighborhoods in order to make construction cheaper and lower housing prices.
What should be done to lower the poverty rate? I support gradually implementing the recommendations of the Committee to Fight Poverty that was led by [new Kulanu MK] Eli Alalouf. [The Welfare and Social Services Ministry- sponsored Alalouf Committee proposed a plan including increased income support for the unemployed, the working poor and the elderly, among other proposals, which would cost NIS 1.2 billion annually and reduce poverty by 40 percent within a decade.] Is there something else people should know about you? I will be available for every citizen in the country; they should see me as their address in the legislature.