Parachuting her way to the top

At 48, MK Estherina Tartman holds the record for the most parachute jumps by a woman in the IDF (32 jumps) and still performs reserve duty.

mk tartman 298.88 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
mk tartman 298.88 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
When MK Estherina Tartman is sworn in as tourism minister in the coming weeks, she will be fulfilling a prophesy that she set for herself when she first became an MK for the Israel Beiteinu Party in September 2006. "I will become an MK that no one will easily forget and never be able to ignore," said Tartman. "I plan to change Israel's image and place in the world." Within the coming weeks, after the Knesset approves her appointment and she enters the ministry, Tartman will have the ability to do just that. However, due to her Knesset record, many have been left wondering what changes she will bring to the tourism industry. Tartman and her four children live in Givon Hahadasha, a settlement north of Jerusalem. She has a Masters' degree in economics and marketing from Hebrew University, and a B.A. from Bar-Ilan University. The 48-year-old holds the record for the most parachute jumps by a woman in the IDF (32 jumps) and still performs reserve duty. Her support of both the army and the settlement movement have remained steadfast, and during the war she was the first MK to voice criticism of the army's treatment of reserve officers and the lack of preparation for the soldiers who entered Lebanon. In the Knesset, Tartman has advanced bills that strengthen the Knesset's legislative powers, and provide funds to reserve officers and soldiers. In the 17th Knesset she served as chairwoman of the Knesset State Control Committee, which handles all of the state comptroller reports. The committee is always led by a member of the opposition, and when Israel Beiteinu joined the coalition, Tartman had to leave her post. At the time, sources close to Tartman said that she had been promised a ministerial position by party leader Avigdor Lieberman. Tartman has been one of Lieberman's most loyal lawmakers, often backing his most controversial statements and policies that many from the left-wing parties consider racist and anti-Arab. Tartman's greatest controversy to date surrounded a series of statements that she made last month when minister-without-portfolio Ghaleb Majadle was appointed to his post, becoming the first-ever Arab Minister. Tartman had said in a radio interview that Majadle's appointment was a "lethal blow to Zionism," and that "we must destroy the affliction within us."