New MKs get acclimated at the Knesset

Labor’s Hilik Bar: I feel like I’m back in first grade.

emptyknesset370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
It was the first day of school for 48 new Knesset members at the legislature building in Jerusalem on Sunday, as the newly elected legislators learned the ropes of a job they hope they will have for at least four years.
They came in freshly tailored suits with wide eyes and high expectations, met their counterparts from other parties, and introduced themselves to ushers who must learn many new faces in a short period of time.
While some new MKs have visited the Knesset in other capacities, most of them had never set foot in the building that is now their new work place.
“Even though unlike other new MKs I know where the bathroom is, I still feel like I’m starting first grade and I have so much to learn here,” said new Labor MK Hilik Bar, who has been a regular visitor as his party’s secretary-general.
His Labor colleague, Omer Bar-Lev, said the last time he was in the building was when former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat came to the Knesset in 1977 and his father Haim Bar-Lev was an MK. He said he hoped other Arab leaders would follow suit during his time in the Knesset.
New Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman noted the historic significance of being the first American- born MK in 30 years and called excitedly when he sat in the Knesset plenum for the first time.
“I’m very excited because finally, after three decades, the English-speaking community has a representative in the Knesset,” Lipman said. “I have dreams for where I would like to see the State of Israel and I can finally do something about it together with my brothers and sisters in Yesh Atid who have become a family and are ready to do great things for the Jewish people.”
Incoming Bayit Yehudi MK Yoni Chetboun said he was already planning his first legislation that would require equal resources to be given to the poorest sectors of the population.
He said he intended to quickly learn his new profession.
The MK-elects were given seminars on how to be an effective legislator and a tour of the building.
New Yesh Atid MK Yoel Razbozov, who is a champion judoka, cut away from the tour to check out the Knesset’s gym.
He said he could use the facility to train his prized pupil, party chairman Yair Lapid.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin warned the incoming MKs who packed the Knesset’s Jerusalem room to heed the warning that the public gave them when their predecessors were voted out. He said the public was watching them and would not tolerate them repeating mistakes of MKs who threw glasses of water at each other and caused other embarrassments.
“Every Knesset has stars for a moment,” Rivlin said. “They shine bright for a second like lightning but are quickly forgotten.
Don’t feel pressure to cause provocations even when your friends who do gimmicks get more press. You should instead impress the public by working hard and doing good parliamentary work.”
Labor’s Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who is the Knesset’s oldest and most veteran MK, added another piece of key advice. “Until you know what you’re doing here, listen, and don’t talk,” he said.