The Israel Democracy Institute`s Outstanding Parliamentarian Award, for which recipients are selected by a special committee led by former deputy president of the Supreme Court Judge (ret.) Theodore Orr, was presented on Tuesday to Knesset Members Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) and Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (Zionist Camp).
The ceremony was held at the Knesset in the presence of Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, MKs, representatives of the Israel Democracy Institute and the recipients` family members.
”It should not be taken for granted that a non-parliamentary body takes on this thorough research work and does not give the award to someone who [has received a lot of media coverage]. Rather, the award is granted based on clear criteria of parliamentary activity,” Edelstein said. ”This pleases me, and not only because politics today are personal, headline politics, and the need for an article in the newspaper leads us to places we do not want to reach.”
Edelstein noted MK Gafni`s ”extensive work as chairman of the Finance Committee, as a legislator, and as an eloquent speaker in the Plenum,” adding that a large part of Gafni`s activity in the Knesset has to do with ”breaking stigmas in Israeli society.”
MK Nahmias-Verbin ”is relatively new,” the Knesset Speaker said, ”but she can be heard and seen in a variety of activities.” Edelstein added that Nahmias-Verbin does not seek ”cheap headlines” and does ”serious and focused work.”
Israel Democracy Institute Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer said the award was granted to MKs Gafni and Nahmias-Verbin for their ”consistent and thorough” parliamentary work, ”which does not make headlines but determines the quality of the Knesset`s activity.”
After receiving the award, MK Gafni said ”I am ultra-Orthodox, and I am proud of it. I believe that when things are good for everyone, they are also good for the haredi public, and when things are bad for everyone, they are seven times worse for the haredim. Headlines are given for things that are not worth anything.”
MK Nahmias-Verbin said ”I love my job and thank the Israel Democracy Institute from the bottom of my heart for recognizing this, because in the daily work of a Knesset Member there are no headlines, fireworks, likes or retweets. When there is an important issue to deal with, I do not let go, because there are no minor issues. The public must not feel as though we are detached from it; that the aquarium here prevents us from seeing their problems.”
In support of Gafni, the special committee wrote: ”Moshe Gafni is a veteran Knesset member who has done quality work over the years. He especially stands out for his actions as head of the Finance Committee and for being a serious lawmaker. In the first year of the 20th Knesset, he worked tirelessly to advance the subject of legislation with regards to the Finance Committee`s work. As the committee`s leader, he has stood up for the weakest segments of society, such as the disabled and parents of children with terminal illnesses.”
In support of Nahmias-Verbin, the special committee noted that ”Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin stands out for her spirited and industrious actions in a variety of parliamentary forums. Nahmias-Verbin worked decisively to advance important goals, including increasing women`s rights and equality, and improving Israeli industry. She has a no-holds-barred attitude toward making the government and the Knesset more accessible to the public, and helping address many problems faced by Israel`s citizens.”