(photo credit: )
Gila Waksman has come a long way since her childhood down under in Melbourne, Australia - to the upper echelons of the Mossad, and perhaps a seat in the Knesset.
Waksman, 55, competed against 74 other candidates in Wednesday's Kadima primary for a place on the party's Knesset slate. She admits she was at a disadvantage, because her 20-year career in the Mossad did not give her much name recognition.
"In the Mossad, I am used to working behind the scenes," Waksman said. "The Mossad only gets press when there is a blunder, so I am glad that there were no articles about me until now."
Waksman currently lives in Alfei Menashe in Samaria, but she lived in Melbourne from age 10 until she was 18, when she made aliya with her parents. She attended a Chabad school even though her father was an atheist.
Before joining the Mossad, she lived on a kibbutz, served an extended term in the army and earned a master's in biochemistry.
"I decided I wanted to work with men, not mice," Waksman said of her shift from the laboratories of biochemistry to adventures in intelligence.
Waksman, who was involved in bringing Ethiopians to Israel in Operation Moses in the early 1980s, said she had not met Kadima leader Tzipi Livni while the two of them were serving in the Mossad at the same time.
When Waksman retired from the Mossad with a rank equivalent to colonel, she decided to give something back to society. She established Computers for the Heart, a program for youth at risk, which could end up being a stepping stone to a political career.
"I decided if I could accomplish so much as an individual, I could do even more to help more people by entering politics," Waksman said.
For the last several weeks, Waksman has been touring the country, campaigning and learning about the problems faced by different sectors. She has taken a particular interest in the problems of Israeli Arabs and wants to do what she can to help them, whether she enters the Knesset or not.
Waksman said she was not concerned that she might not get elected.
"I've made so many friends all over the country that this was worthwhile, no matter where I end up on the list," she said.
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