Knesset Capers: New kids on the block

"Rookie" MKs Shai Piron and Ayelet Shaked arrive at the Knesset on the first day of orientation.

fullknesset370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
On the first day of orientation for the record-number 48 new members of the 19th Knesset, Yesh Atid’s Shai Piron and Bayit Yehudi’s Ayelet Shaked are gingerly walking down the main corridor trying to find their offices.
“I knew mine was around here somewhere, With all that information they’re piling on, I’m just a little confused,” says Shaked, as she opens Fuad Ben- Eliezer’s door by accident, receives an angry glare from its occupant and quickly closes it.
“I can’t find mine either,” says Piron.
“If I could just find Yair’s. I know that it’s next to his – in a corner... and it’s much smaller.”
“Yeah, I think mine is in Naftali’s jacket closet,” Shaked responds.
They bump into Labor’s Merav Michaeli and Likud Beytenu’s Yair Shamir at the stairwell, looking at a hand-posted sign. Joining them, they read, “FOR SALE – One Knesset attendance sheet, barely used. Call Ehud Barak.”
“How’s your first day going?” asks Shamir. “If you have any questions let me know. When my abba was here, I used to run wild around the place. I can show you the room where he used to take naps – believe me, it will come in useful.”
Shaked pulled out a sheet of official Knesset stationary.
“Are any of you taking one of these sessions? These two look interesting,” she says pointing to two classes being offered for the freshmen MKs – “Maritime Skills by Haneen Zoabi” and “Ethical Loopholes – A joint seminar by Tzachi Hanegbi and Arye Deri.”
“I don’t know if I’ll have time,” says Michaeli. “I signed up with Shelly for the ‘How to Transition from Celebrity to MK’ workshop with Nachman Shai.”
“Nice, I better tell Yair about that one,” says Shaked, as the four fresh legislators continue down the corridor.
After passing by Tzipi Livni and Zehava Gal-On – who smirk and snicker “Rookies” under their breath – they encounter another sign posted on the wall. It reads: “New MKs – Remember to always carry your ID card with you – You can be checked at any time.”
“What’s that all about?” asks Michaeli.
“Oh, never mind that, it’s just Yvette,” explains Shamir. “Since he quit as foreign minister, he doesn’t have much to do, so he’s sharpening his bouncer skills.”
Shaked and Piron exchange quizzical glances, and Shamir puts his arms around them.
“My new friends, let’s go to the cafeteria – all the journalists are there. If you want to succeed in this business, you have to get your name out there, and the cafeteria is the perfect place for it. Just be careful, don’t eat the food.”
Continuing down the corridor, they pass more veteran MKs in the hallway.
Most ignore them, but when they get to Ruby Rivlin, who’s walking with Amir Peretz, the Knesset speaker enthusiastically greets them with bear hugs.
“Now, don’t you worry about the oldtimers – they might appear ornery, but they’ll warm up to you,” he says with a wink. “Did anyone tell you about the lunchtime sing-down?” The MKs shake their head in puzzlement.
“It’s no big deal, but all the new MKs need to stand up on a table during lunch and sing a song from their childhood youth group. I’m sure you’ll do fine,” says Rivlin, giving Michaeli a pinch on the cheek before walking off with Peretz. The newbies can hear them guffawing and slapping each other on the back as they turn a corner.
“Was he putting us on?” asks Shaked nervously, as her colleagues, even Shamir, respond in silence. They trudge on toward the cafeteria and come across a line of bearded, black-suited men wearing kippot and standing in a single file behind Eli Yishai who’s in the middle of a lecture.
“Now, you don’t do anything – vote, choose salad or chicken, or make any decision of any kind without my consent. I have the direct line to Rav Ovadia, I’m number one on the list, not Deri – remember that,” says Yishai sternly to his group of veteran Shas MKs.
When he sees the four MKs, he immediately falls silent, and he leads his group past them. The last in line – seemingly lost and unable to locate his own faction room – is the one new United Torah Judaism MK, Asher Ya’acov.
He exchanges glances with his fellow freshman - the uncertainty and anxiety over being burdened with the heavy responsibility of representing the citizens of Israel etched heavily in all of their faces.
The moment passes, and as Ya’acov marches by, Piron can’t resist giving him a slight push and snickering under his breath. “Rookie.”