Meet the new MK: Hilik Bar

Freshman Labor lawmaker supports cuts in defense budget in favor of welfare and education.

HILIK BAR 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
During the campaign, Kadima sent then-MK Ronnie Bar- On to persuade people in its election commercials to vote for the party. Part of the strategy was to guilt people into voting for the party by comparing the record of Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz to unknown candidates in rival parties.
One of the comparisons Bar- On made was with Labor secretary- general Hilik Bar. The commercial attacking Bar was unwise and backfired. Anyone who compared Mofaz to Bar would see that the Kadima leader led his party to the edge of political oblivion, while Bar was instrumental in building Labor from a party that was seen as having no future to the voice of young socioeconomically- minded voters around the country.
Now Bar is a new and vibrant MK, while Bar-On can only watch the Knesset on television.
Bar is expected to be one of the new Knesset’s top voices on socioeconomic issues. If he succeeds in building his own career like he built Labor, he could have a bright future ahead.
Name: Hilik Bar Party: Labor Age: 37 Hometown: Born in Safed, moved to Jerusalem to attend high school and fell in love with the city. Returned after the army to study at the Hebrew University, lives in the Baka neighborhood.Family status: Married to Edit, son Harel, 2.5 Profession before becoming an MK: Secretary-general of Labor and Jerusalem city council member. Held tourism and foreign relations portfolios in municipality.Why did you decide to enter politics?
Because I wanted to help people in poor neighborhoods in the periphery like the one where I grew up. I saw in high school when I went to my friend’s houses how cities in the Center of the country have theaters, community centers, afterschool programs, etc. I wanted to change the fact that Israel was like two states. I also wanted to explain Israel’s positions abroad and advance an end to the Middle East conflict.What are the first three bills you plan to propose?
They are still a secret, but they will be about helping the periphery and involving the public in parliamentary work in the Knesset.What was the most interesting experience on the campaign trail?
Seeing people understand that there is a Right and Left on socioeconomic issues in this country, and not just on the diplomatic issue. People saw that even though they were right-wing on diplomatic issues, on socioeconomic issues they were very Left. It translated into votes.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?
The many women and young people will bring a new spirit to the Knesset with legislative innovation and a focus on issues that were ignored.
There is a new generation that cares about the state and that is making its voice heard. I have no problem with there being more religious MKs, as long as their actual power is proportionate to what they have in the Knesset and the state. I don’t want them to be able to blackmail for more than they really deserve.Do you think haredim and Arabs should perform military or national service, and if so, how should the state enforce it?
Yes, haredim should do army or national service and Arabs national service. It should be enforced by agreement and understanding as much as possible.
We should make every effort for that. But if not, just like we were forced to serve, so should they [be forced to serve].Do you support a religious- Zionist chief candidate, such as Rabbi David Stav, for the chief rabbinate?I have not studied this issue enough yet. What can be done to lower the cost of housing in Israel? First of all, contractors who get land from the state must be obligated to devote a certain percentage (20-30 percent) to affordable housing for poor and young people. The state should subsidize a percentage of the apartments for public housing.
There should be more building of homes for rent.What do you think can be cut in the budget, which must be passed within 45 days of the government’s swearing in?
There must be reforms in the defense budget. That ministry gets a lot more than is proper.
National priorities must be changed: more for welfare, health and education, less for defense and foreign affairs.What is your position on talks with the Palestinian Authority and a possible Palestinian state?
There should be immediate, unconditional talks with the Palestinians. I am for two states for two peoples with land swaps. I am against dividing Jerusalem and making concessions in the city. I am against allowing a single Arab refugee back, but they should be compensated.
There were prime ministers who tried and failed but [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu did not even try.
Even if we fail again, it is worth trying to separate from the Palestinians. There should also be a regional approach so we can attempt to make peace with the entire Arab world.
Do you support the adoption of the Edmund Levy Report, which recommends the state approve unauthorized Jewish settlements in the West Bank?
No. I am not an extremist against settlements but illegal outposts take money away from the welfare of the people as a whole.