Israeli lawmaker pushing for ban on insults
The Associated Press
"Parliament is not a manners school," one of the offenders, Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi, grumbled yesterday. "It's a place where people argue, get heated up and then go out to the hall and drink coffee together."
Freewheeling debate goes back to the early days of the Knesset. Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, had such contempt for his political nemesis, then-opposition leader Menachem Begin, that he'd refer to him as "the gentleman sitting next to Dr. Bader."
Over the years, Israel's political climate has grown more divisive. Speeches are often drowned out by shouting legislators leaping out of their seats, pointing fingers and running about the chamber.
"The public is getting tired of us," says Avital.
A survey commissioned by the Knesset supported the claim. Fifty percent of Israelis polled said they're embarrassed by the parliament, with many criticizing the shouting matches.
Avital came up with a list of 68 offensive epithets - from blood-drinker and boor to fascist, filth, eye-gouger, Jew-hater, Nazi, Philistine, terrorist, traitor and poodle. Proposed penalties range from reprimands for first-time offenders while the persistently foul-mouthed might be suspended from the Knesset for a few days.
Avital said she might agree to condense the list. "If I call someone a poodle, I don't think this is terrible either," she said. "But I don't think in the Israeli Knesset we should call each other Nazis."