Meet the New MK: Nadia Hilou

Labor's Nadia Hilou hopes to shine as first female Christian-Arab MK.

When Nadia Hilou entered the Knesset on her first day as a Labor MK, it was more than just a first for her - it was a landmark for the Knesset as well. Hilou became the first female Christian-Arab MK when she was sworn in on April 17. "I am particularly conscious of my position and the significance it carries because of my background," Hilou told The Jerusalem Post after her first week in office. "I am already involved on a number of issues and bills." While most new MKs struggled to find their offices, only to discover that most of the electronic equipment didn't work, Hilou set up shop in the Interior Committee room, where she has already established herself as a regular for committees on women and family issues. "I hope to be an active, visible member of the Interior Committee, the Education Committee, and the Committee for the Status of Women," said Hilou, who was a social worker before she entered political life. "I am still part social worker. There are very important humanitarian issues that I want to advance." Especially important, she said, was advancing coexistence projects between Jews and Arabs. Hilou has spent her entire life in her birthplace of Jaffa, which she said was a natural coexistence project. Her four daughters all attended the same elementary school in which Hilou received her primary education, and where her parents had studied before her. "It is three generations and running," said Hilou, who considers herself very anchored in her community. It was only the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin that convinced her to leave social work and enter politics. "I was in the square with my two youngest daughters the night Rabin was killed," she said. "It was so emotional... it provided the final push that convinced me that I had to become active to push change and work for peace." Although she has been criticized for not running with one of the Arab parties, Hilou said that it was important for her to run with the Labor Party. "I believed in Labor's position, and I felt it was important to be in a party that would be part of the coalition," she said. "You can work better to establish change by being a part of the government." Hilou unsuccessfully ran for a Knesset seat in 1996 and 1999.