Five new MKs make their maiden Knesset speeches

Horowitz, Regev, Moses, Herschkowitz and Akunis spell out their intentions.

Miri Regev AJ 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozlimski)
Miri Regev AJ 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozlimski)
Five of the 31 new MKs delivered their first addresses to the Knesset plenum on Wednesday, presenting the issues they plan to promote during their tenure. Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) spoke vigorously about the right to all types of freedom; Miri Regev (Likud) said she wanted to promote affirmative action programs for young people in the periphery; Menahem Eliezer Moses (United Torah Judaism) promised to ease child poverty and provide affordable housing for young couples; Daniel Herschkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi) talked about the need to rehabilitate the education system; and Ophir Akunis (Likud) committed himself to reviving Zionism and patriotism. Horowitz, a former Channel 10 journalist, used his hands vigorously - as he was wont to do onscreen - while speaking about Israeli rights to personal freedom, stressing the principles of a just society, a strong culture and a healthy environment. A just society, he continued, includes the right to earn one's living with dignity and to choose one's own future. A strong culture, he said, begins with the country's schools. "Schools must supply a book, a song and room for spiritual thought and creativity, and the government must financially support these needs," he said. Horowitz said that a healthy environment was required for people to have a good life, and added that it was also the right of every Israeli to decide how he or she married or divorced. "I feel that our hope to be free in our country hasn't been lost yet," he declared. Next at the podium was former IDF spokeswoman Regev, who announced that she planned to work toward full equality for all citizens. More than anything, she said, she wanted to erase "the inequity between the center of Israel and its periphery, which is an outrage. In the IDF there is complete equality between men and women from the periphery and men and women from the center, and I plan to advance affirmative action for people in the periphery and for women." Regev, who grew up in Kiryat Gat, quoted a letter written by a 13-year-old girl that was published on Wednesday in Yediot Aharonot. In the letter, the girl expressed concern for her working mother and their empty refrigerator, and said she was willing to go out to work. "What can a 13-year-old girl do? Become a director-general in a big company?" asked Regev. "No, she can sell her body, and we must make sure this never happens. We must prevent layoffs, promise an equitable society and real equal opportunities." Moses announced that he would work toward erasing the shame of having 777,000 children living beneath the poverty line. "The State of Israel invests many millions in infrastructure, trains and roads, but what about the insult of young people who are suffering from malnutrition?" he asked. Moses also spoke about relieving the housing shortage for young families. "Precisely during these hard times, massive home construction can help us pull out of the crisis, while at the same time relieving the burden on young couples," he said. Herschkowitz said the country's most pressing problem was education. "We have abandoned the education of the children of Israel," he said. "We didn't succeed in setting a personal example for them; we didn't supervise media broadcasts; we didn't encourage volunteering and army service; we educated them to receive but not to give; we didn't encourage academic excellence, and we disconnected them from their history and heritage." Last to speak was Akunis, who said he was planning to restore Zionism's former status and to fight the "cynical post-Zionist approach that has swept away many young and old people." Akunis told the plenum that earlier on Wednesday he had submitted his first bill to the Knesset, proposing that all pupils be obligated to visit national heritage sites. He also expressed his objection to the establishment of a Palestinian state "between Jordan and the sea," and asked that the opposition remember the exact state of the economy as the Likud takes over the reins of government from Kadima.