Steinitz to MKs: Stop pandering to media with gimmicks

NGO declares MKs Maklev, Orlev and Henin excellent parliamentarians.

MKs display Parliamentary Excellence Awards 390 (photo credit: Yossi Zamir)
MKs display Parliamentary Excellence Awards 390
(photo credit: Yossi Zamir)
MKs need to show responsibility and stop trying to get into the media through provocations and gimmicks, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said at the Parliamentary Excellence Award ceremony at the Israeli Democracy Institute in Jerusalem Thursday.
The award, which Steinitz proposed to the IDI, was given to three MKs with divergent ideological and political views – Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism), Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) and Dov Henin (Hadash) – for their “quality” work in the Knesset.
The NGO researched the parliamentary activity of all 120 MKs, ranking them according to “quality” activity, which includes supervising the government’s work, as opposed to passing private legislation, which is less likely to become law than government bills, and is often simply declaratory.
The IDI also rated the MKs’ connections to voters and budgetary responsibility, as well as speeches and parliamentary questions.
Steinitz commended the three MKs for work that “has an ideology, is serious and responsible,” and for researching bills and their consequences before proposing them.
“What you’re doing today will bring true progress to the State of Israel,” the finance minister said.
According to Steinitz, the IDI’s award is important in that it defends democracy from populism, “which threatens Israel’s ability to manage itself economically, and in other areas.” The minister recounted his first term in the Knesset, saying that he rarely was asked to appear in the media, and when he asked a parliamentary reporter why this is so, he was told that he should be more argumentative or find a gimmick.
Steinitz added that many MKs propose bills without fully examining them and their effect on the budget, and called for legislators to be more careful, in light of the worldwide recession.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin also attended the award ceremony, and called for higher standards of “excellence and professionalism” for MKs.
Rivlin described the changes to the ethical code that the Knesset committee chairmen are working to change, including limitations on lobbyists’ activities. However, he said, although the rules will apply to lobbyists, the responsibility belongs to MKs, who must be committed to transparency in their decision-making.
“Despite all of the political clowning that occurs, parliamentarism is a profession,” he said. “MKs must adopt the moral skeleton of their job.”
The members of Knesset who won the award “fulfill their mission as public emissaries,” Rivlin explained. He also pointed out that, even if their position is the opposite of what most citizens want, Maklev, Orlev and Henin represent their voters, and are able to have a discourse with MKs of other parties with which they disagree.
On a similar note, Henin, a self-declared communist, said that the variety of views in the Knesset show that Karl Marx’s dialectic works, in that opposing views come together to form a new view. Steinitz, a professor of philosophy, pointed out that the dialectic originated with Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.
Maklev thanked the IDI for the incentive to continue on his path, explaining that “sometimes a public servant wonders if what he is doing is right, and if he should go on working as he did before.”
“We cannot do anything without God’s help, but first of all we must live our natural lives,” Orlev said. “Israeli democracy, and the Knesset, leads this nation and tells us whether we should rely on miracles, or act and work and defend itself – at the same times as learning Torah.”
The Habayit Hayehudi MK, who won the award for excellent committee chairman for his work leading the Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child, added that there are many hard-working MKs, and he hopes that the award will motivate them.