Tag Archives: Member of Knesset

Jew of the Week: Avigdor Lieberman

Israel's New Minister of Defence, Avigdor Lieberman (Photo Credit: Yossi Zamir)

Israel’s New Minister of Defence, Avigdor Lieberman (Photo Credit: Yossi Zamir)

Evet Lvovich Lieberman (b. 1958) was born in Moldova to a Russian-Jewish family. He grew up speaking Yiddish and dreamed of being a poet. In 1978, his family made aliyah to Israel, where he went by the name “Avigdor”. After serving in the IDF, Lieberman studied political science at the Hebrew University. During this time, he worked as a bouncer in a club, and went on to become the club’s manager. In the mid-80s, Lieberman co-founded the Zionist Forum for Soviet Jewry, and worked for Israel’s National Worker’s Union. His first real foray into politics was in 1988, when he began collaborating with Benjamin Netanyahu. By 1993, Lieberman was the Director-General of Likud, and in 1996 became the Director-General of Netanyahu’s Prime Ministerial office. However, the following year he had a falling out with Netanyahu over concessions made to the Palestinians. He left Likud, and two years later, founded a new political party, Yisrael Beitenu. That same year, he was elected to the Knesset for the first time. He remained in this position until 2004, when Ariel Sharon kicked him out because of his vocal opposition to the Gaza withdrawal plans. In the next elections, Lieberman returned to the Knesset, his party having won 11 seats. Once again, in 2008, he left his post to protest “land for peace” negotiations, and was re-elected the following year. All in all, Lieberman has been an MK in every Knesset since 1999, and served as Minister of National Infrastructure, Minister of Transportation, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and even as Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister. Most recently, he has been appointed Minister of Defense. His strong support among the million-plus Soviet immigrants in Israel gives him consistently large Knesset seat victories, making him a key part of forming any successful coalition government. For this reason, he has been nicknamed the “kingmaker”. Over the years, Lieberman has worked to improve ties with European and African nations, and campaigned for Israel to join the European Union and NATO. He has always insisted on keeping Jerusalem undivided, on responding harshly to terror attacks, and strengthening Israel’s borders. On being a controversial figure, he has said: “I’ve always been controversial because I offer new ideas. For me to be controversial, I think this is positive.”

Words of the Week

The peace process is based on three false basic assumptions; that Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the main cause of instability in the Middle East, that the conflict is territorial and not ideological, and that the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders will end the conflict.
– Avigdor Lieberman

Jew of the Week: Rabbi Yehuda Glick

Yehuda Glick (Credit: Amitay Salomon)

Yehuda Glick (Credit: Amitay Salomon)

Yehuda Joshua Glick (b. 1965) was born in Brooklyn to an Orthodox Jewish family which made aliyah to Israel when he was nine years old. After completing his rabbinical studies, Glick began working for the Israeli Ministry of Immigrant Absorption. In 2005, after some ten years, he quit the job to protest Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. He then served as executive director of The Temple Institute, an organization working to rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem through peaceful means. Glick is most famous for his activism with regards to permitting Jews to ascend the Temple Mount. This area is the holiest site in the world for the Jewish people, yet entrance to it is severely limited for Jews, and prayer there is currently forbidden to all but Muslims. As chairman of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation and leader of the HaLiba group, Glick has worked tirelessly to end this racist policy, and to open the Temple Mount for visitation and prayer to people of all faiths. He envisions rebuilding a temple – “a house of prayer for all nations” – next to the Dome of the Rock. For leading prayer groups to the Temple Mount, Glick has been arrested multiple times. In 2013, he went on a hunger strike to protest a ban that forbid him to go to the Temple Mount. After twelve days without food, Glick was permitted to return to the Mount. In 2014, after giving a speech at a Jerusalem conference, an Arab man approached Glick and shot him four times in the chest before driving off on a motorcycle. Glick underwent multiple surgeries, and was unable to communicate or breathe on his own for a couple of weeks. Amazingly, he survived the assassination attempt. Shortly after, he joined the Likud political party, and was placed 33rd on its list. The party won 30 seats, making Glick third in line to become a parliamentarian. Over the past year, three Likud MKs resigned, including Moshe Ya’alon earlier this month. This opened the door for Glick to enter Knesset, which he did two days ago. His calls for peace, prayer, and human rights are truly universal, as he has stood by not only Orthodox Jews, but also Christian groups and Reform Jews (including the Women of the Wall) who aim to pray freely at Jerusalem’s holy sites. He has also spoken frequently about ending the plight of the Palestinians, and bridging gaps between Jews and Muslims. In addition to his own six kids, Glick is the legal guardian of six more children, and two foster children. He has been compared to Gandhi, and described as “earthly, wise, thoughtful, nonviolent, and compassionate.” Last year, he was awarded the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism by the Jewish National Fund.

Words of the Week

If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.
– Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Jew of the Week: Mazor Bahaina

Rabbi and Member of Knesset

Mazor Bahaina (Credit: Knesset.gov.il)

Mazor Bahaina (Credit: Knesset.gov.il)

Mazor Mahoy Bahaina (b. 1973) was born in the Ethiopian village of Welkite. As a child, he fled the country with his family on foot, heading for Israel. It took a year and a half, most of which was spent in Sudanese refugee camps, to finally reach the Promised Land. Bahaina enrolled in religious yeshivas for study, eventually making it to the prestigious Porat Yosef Yeshiva in Jerusalem. After earning his rabbinic ordination, he moved to Be’er Sheva to support the influx of Ethiopian Jewish immigrants, ultimately becoming the chief rabbi of the city’s 10,000 Ethiopian Jews. He also sat on the city’s council, which brought him into the political sphere. Bahaina eventually got on the list of Shas (“Shomrei Sefarad”, Israel’s religious Sephardic political party). He worked for the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and as an advisor to Israel’s Minister of Finance. In April 2008, Bahaina was given a seat in the Knesset, and served as a member of parliament until the following year. He was a member of the Labor, Welfare, and Health Committee, as well as the committee for children’s rights, among others. Though no longer in government, Bahaina continues to diligently serve Israel’s public, particularly the Ethiopian community, and is working to assist the remaining Jews of Ethiopia to make aliyah.

Words of the Week

Six million of us were murdered in the Holocaust. But instead of disappearing, we decided that after 2,000 years of exile, it would be better to go home and rebuild our own country. And so we did. What took other nations hundreds and hundreds of years to build, we did in only a few. What was possible we did very quickly, and what was impossible took us just a bit longer.
– Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo