A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

9 firsts you should know about Israel’s new government

9+firsts+you+should+know+about+Israel%E2%80%99s+new+government

Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c

For the first time in 12 years, Israel’s Likud Party and its head, Benjamin Netanyahu, will move from the prime minister’s seat to the opposition in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

The new government, sworn in Sunday night, brings into power a broad coalition of eight political parties spanning left to right.

Heading Israel’s 36th government is Yamina Party leader Naftali Bennett, the 13th Israeli prime minister.

Bennett was sworn in along with Yesh Atid Party leader Yair Lapid, who will serve as alternate prime minister and foreign minister until becoming the country’s 14th prime minister in August 2023 for the final two years of the term – if all goes according to plan.

The Hebrew word yachad (together) displayed in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, by the Black Flag movement, in celebration of the new government. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90

Here are 10 notable firsts in this 36th Knesset, formed with the intention of unseating Netanyahu and bringing change to Israel.

Nitzan Horowitz, left, and Tamar Zandberg (shown with her daughter), new cabinet ministers from the Meretz Party. Photo by Miriam Alster/FLASH90
  1. Bennett, 49, is the first prime minister from the high-tech world, having headed and sold two successful software companies, Cyota and Soluto. He also is the first to wear a kippah, a traditional Jewish skullcap.
  2. The ruling coalition includes an Arab party – the Islamist Ra’am Party – while other parties representing Israel’s 21 percent Arab minority chose to remain in the opposition.
  3. Incoming Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz was the first openly gay Knesset member to head a major party (Meretz).

Shirley Pinto, Israel’s first deaf member of Knesset. Photo by Flash90
  1. The 36th Knesset includes two longtime disabilities activists: Shirley Pinto, Israel’s first deaf Knesset member; and Karine Elharrar, a veteran MK who has muscular dystrophy, as Minister of Energy.
  2. There are nine female cabinet ministers (out of a total of 27), the highest number in Israel’s history: Yifat Shasha-Biton (Education), Ayelet Shaked (Interior), Merav Michaeli (Transportation), Tamar Zandberg (Environmental Protection), Orna Barbivay (Economy), Karine Elharrar (Energy), Pnina Tamano-Shata (Aliyah and Integration) and Orit Farkash Hacohen (Science and Technology).
  3. There are two Arab cabinet ministers: Esawi Frej (Regional Cooperation) and Hamed Amar (Finance).

Esawi Frej, left, speaking at the swearing in of the new Israeli government, June 13, 2021. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90
  1. Two new Knesset members hail from English-speaking countries: Cape Town-raised Ruth Wasserman Lande and North Carolina native Prof. Alon Tal. Counting Tal, the Knesset has had only eight American-born members in its 73-year history. (Bennett, like Netanyahu a fluent English speaker, was born in Haifa to American immigrants.)
  2. Three former broadcast journalists are in the top echelon: Yair Lapid, Nitzan Horowitz and Merav Michaeli. Lapid’s late father, Tommy, was also TV journalist-turned-politician. (A video made in 1994, recently recirculated on Twitter, shows Michaeli and Lapid emerging disheveled from behind a sofa. Now 54 and 57, respectively, they have shed their playgirl/playboy personas of the past.)
  3. Incoming Minister of Public Security Omer Bar-Lev is heading the same ministry — then called the Police Ministry –that was led by his late father, Haim Bar-Lev, from 1984 to 1990.
Navigate Left
  • Twelve tough questions and simple answers about Israel

    Opinion

    Twelve tough questions and simple answers about Israel

  • Credit: Holocaust Museum Houston

    Local news

    ‘600 Butterflies’ project taking flight Holocaust Museum

  • Gabe Fleisher

    Local news

    From bedroom blogger to beltway insider: Gabe Fleisher’s extraordinary journalistic journey continues

  • Jeffrey Shandler, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University, is the author of Homes of the Past: A Lost Jewish Museum. (Etty Lassman; Indiana University Press)

    The Holocaust

    The true story of the ‘The Lost Jewish Museum’

  • All 18 the Israeli children and teens arrived safely in the US

    Local news

    Camp Ben Frankel welcomes 18 Israeli youngsters for summer session

  • How the Ten Commandments get lost in translation in the new Louisiana law

    Opinion

    How the Ten Commandments get lost in translation in the new Louisiana law

  • First look at the Marilyn Fox Building transformation

    Local news

    First look at the Marilyn Fox Building transformation

  • Lady in the Lake trailer photo. APPLE TV+

    JPop Culture

    A first look at the dark secrets uncovered in Natalie Portman’s latest must-watch series

  • Police arrest hundreds, including members of the Jewish group Not In Our Name, at a pro-Palestinian protest in Brooklyn on April 23, 2024. Fatih Aktas/Anadolu via Getty Images

    Top Story

    Jewish critics of Zionism have clashed with American Jewish leaders for decades

  • Brian Herstig.

    Local news

    Brian Herstig reflects on tenure as he bids farewell to St. Louis Jewish Federation

Navigate Right