Israel’s MKs can learn a thing or two from Mandela

By: Ariel Oseran, Mqg’s Blog

Last week we parted from Nelson Mandela, one the most inspiring leaders and freedom fighters the world has ever seen. Mandela, also known by his nickname – “Madiba” (the name of the tribe which Mandela belongs to), is an example of a leader who ruled while maintaining a high level of modesty and honesty. One of the his most favorably remembered acts came during the first year in office, when Mandela, realizing his country was in a deep economic crisis, decided to donate a third of his annual salary to the fund he helped establish for children at risk. Let’s translate this into numbers for a second: Mandela’s monthly salary was 450,000 Rand, an amount equaling 44,000 NIS. Therefore, giving up one-third of the amount, is wavering nearly 15,000 NIS!

This coming January, the members of the Knesset of Israel, “The Light of the Nations”, are expected to receive an increase of more than 1,000 NIS to their monthly salaries. Meaning that their monthly salary will rise from 37,000 NIS to over 38,000 NIS. This increase comes at a time of ” belt-tightening” and worsening cuts and decrees on the Israeli public. However, the public accepts these decrees due to being aware of the economy’s difficult situation, and knowing that we all share the responsibility of improving the situation. However, the MKs sit on the sidelines while their salaries, which are index-linked, continue to rise. With what “Chutzpa” do they let this happen?!

We’re not asking them to give up a third of their salary, as Mandela did, in order to fund such “privileges” as child benefits or wage supplements for single mothers. We’re simply asking them not to raise their (already) high salary. This is really not an unreasonable request! Especially since the salaries of our Mks are tens of percents higher than of their counterparts in other countries. Surprisingly, in their statements to the media regarding the allegations against the poor functioning of the authorities during the storm that struck Israel last weekend, the MKs and ministers repeated claims that: “compared to other countries, the way we coped with the storm was far better”. So where is the comparison to other countries when it comes to their pockets

One of the funniest moments regarding this issue was during a broadcast on the “Channel 2” news last week, which reported on the constant and irrational rise in housing prices. During the report, the broadcaster noted as an example MK Stav Shafir, who is currently looking to rent an apartment in Jerusalem. She said that it will be extremely difficult for Shafir to find a reasonably priced apartment in Jerusalem. Seriously?! Even without the expected increase of 1000 NIS, I don’t think MK Shafir will have a hard time finding an apartment in a city where the average monthly rent is 3,560 NIS. I think this case reflects in the most despicable of ways how the public representative are completely and utterly disconnected from their constituents.

I leave you with a known (and so accurate) quote by “Madiba”: “Leaders, in all walks of life, must lead through example.” To our officials in the Knesset, I say: ”please take his advice”. And before you move on to browse another webpage, sign this petition and make a difference!

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