The newlook feminine Israeli political scene

For many, the typical Israeli female politician is represented in charactures of Golda Meir. And yet is is nearly 35 years since she left the job as Prime Minister.

It is not that Israel has a new brand of ladies in power. Impressively, Israeli society has developed very considerably since the days of Meir. Just as there is no man who represents all of Israel, so too the ladies have moved on and up.

Take Dalia Itzhik. She is currently the Speaker of the Kenesset. Now in her mid 50s, she grew up with 7 other siblings, and her mum could neither read nor write. She was recently voted by Newsweek as one of the 11 most influential women in the world.

Mona Alahbanin is the first female candidate to stand for the council elections of the Bedouin city of Rahat. Located on the northern edge of the Negev desert, the vote takes place on 11th November. Interestingly, throughout Israel, there will be a total of 33 women standing for the position of head of their respective councils – an increase of 35% over 5 years.

And, of course, Tzipi LIvni, is head of the ruling Kadima party, and is hoping to lead it to victory in the general elction in early February 2009.

So what’s the big deal? This week the BBC published a series of interviews with Islamic feminists. To claim that their Israeli counterparts have nothing to fight for would be inaccurate. However, the ladies in question would learn a lot from their colleagues in Israel if they would put away their old-hat political divisions and talk to them. Many Arab societies would benefit from such a new and refreshing dialogue with Israel.

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