Photo: Yoni Hamenachem
Dear Knesset members,
In the coming weeks you will be walking around the Knesset as if you are intoxicated – dazed and astounded – while you try to figure out how to use the photocopy machine, where exactly does the Constitution Committee sit, and who is this tall blond walking towards you in the corridors (she is not a model, but rather, new Yisrael Beiteinu Knesset Member Anastasia Michaeli.)
Very quickly you shall discover that the yelling you saw on television until now is merely a staged act for the TV cameras. In reality, the Knesset is like a serene and sleepy gentlemen’s club (or, if you will, ladies’ club.)
The two parliamentary assistants assigned to you will quickly learn how you like your coffee, the superb research department will be glad to prepare a file on any issue that comes to your mind, lobbyists will invite you to long lunches, and veteran MKs will happily explain to you how the voting machine works. No worries, you will end up paying for this favor.
Mostly, you will discover that you have time. Plenty of time. You will work only three days a week, not too many hours, there is a summer break and winter break, and nobody forces you to arrive to the meetings of the subcommittee you were initially so excited to join. The truly important decisions are taken at a much higher level in any case.
After a few weeks you will start wondering what you’re supposed to do with all this free time. The ambitious ones among you will quickly learn how to stand out. It’s not too difficult. A little yelling at the Arab MKs, two or three wild bills that will never be materialized, or a quick text message to a journalist with a forbidden leak from a faction meeting.
However, this won’t take you anywhere. Pay attention to the truly successful MKs. They always chose two or three issues they truly believe in (no more than that; it’s better to focus,) studied them seriously, and got the job done.
Gideon Saar enjoys wall-to-wall appreciation for his work on women’s rights, Shelly Yacimovich is an admired parliamentarian because she focused on workers’ rights, Ilan Ghilon’s return is truly good news for Israel’s disabled, and Marina Solodkin’s long career is premised on the fact that she has replied to every letter from a citizen, including the greatest naggers.
Ignore all the people who offer you their advice and focus on the real reasons that brought you to the Knesset. The trick is not to “play the game,” but rather, to realize this is not a game. If you work seriously, you can touch the real fates of real people. Past experience shows that this will not only make your term in office significant and worthy, it is also the right political move.