«Those who kill in the name of a foreign entity cannot be part of our society» – Interview with MK Sharren Haskel
In recent years, one of the emerging figures on the entire Israeli political scene has undoubtedly been Sharren Haskel, a member of the Knesset since 2015, she was elected in the last elections in the ranks of the party HaMaḥane HaMamlakhti, which is part of the Opposition.
Born in Toronto in 1984, Sharren Haskel at the age of 18 enlisted as a volunteer in the Magav, the Israeli border police, serving as a combat soldier during the period of the Second Intifada, in 2002. “I felt I could make a difference, so I decided to join a special unit,” the Israeli parliamentarian tells HaTikwa. After the military service Haskel moved to Australia, where she lived for seven years. She returned to Israel after realizing how strong “the relationship with my people is and what it meant for me and my family to be able to live in a country where we can be ourselves”. It was precisely when she returned home that she took her first steps into the complex world of Israeli politics. First in the Likud, where she became the youngest MP of the party and the second of the entire 20th Knesset, and later with Gideon Sa’ar’s party Tikvà Hadasha, which she joined immediately moved by the need to belong to an alternative conservative party to the one led by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Sharren Haskel exclusively for HaTikwa, spoke about her political career and the hottest topics currently in Israel: the judicial reform of the minister Yariv Levin and her proposed law in response to the recent wave of attacks.
How did your journey into the world of politics begin?
It all started during my studies here in Israel, after spending seven years in Australia. But before that I didn’t have much to do with politics. I joined a few groups that were very active back then, and slowly started some political activism. Later I joined the Likud, where together with other young people I demonstrated against the cost of living. Some time later, during the municipal elections, the Kfar Saba branch of Likud asked me to run with them. I was reluctant at first, had no experience and wasn’t sure if this was the thing for me. But once I started, I realized how politics is an incredible tool to help people and change the country. A year and a half later, I decided to run in the Likud primaries, which I passed thanks to the support of all groups I’ve been very active with over the past three years. I later became a Member of the Knesset.
The second youngest in the entire Israeli parliament and the youngest in your party…
Exactly! And that’s when I realized that if we, the younger generation, don’t stand up and fight for what we believe in and the changes we want to see, no one will do it for us.
Two years ago you switched from Likud to Tikvà Hadasha. What prompted you to leave the party that launched you?
It was very challenging for me, because I cherish the values of Likud: being a Zionist, understanding Israel’s security and its needs, but also individual and economic freedoms, reducing bureaucracy and fighting for the free market. And above all the most important mission: to defend Israel, the refuge for the Jewish people. However in the last two years I have seen Likud more and more following people instead of those values. So I thought that the only way to get Israel out of the political crisis it is still experiencing today was to give a right-wing alternative to the Likud. So I decided to support Gideon Sa’ar first for the leadership of the party, which he lost, and later I decided to join him to form the new Tikva Hadasha party.
Do you imagine his return to the Likud in the future?
Not at the moment, I can’t imagine it. This course that Likud is taking, where self-interest and a person’s interest come before any kind of ideology and value, is not my way. I will always put public values and interests first over personal interests. Israel is much bigger than any of us and we must protect and defend it for the next generations, for our children and for our grandchildren. After everything our ancestors went through, we cannot destroy our refuge, our special country. Not in the name of a person and not in the name of a personal interest.
Let’s talk about current events. What do you think of the demonstrations of the last few weeks?
I am really concerned, like most Israeli citizens. Netanyahu has been given a mandate to govern. But what this government seems to be trying to do is to act out of self-interest rather than the interests of the country.
As much as there is a need for reform in the Israeli judicial system, it seems that what they are trying to do is to eliminate the mutual checks and balances between powers, so as to give much more power to the prime minister, who will be able to effectively control the judicial system, as well as the executive one and indirectly also the Knesset.
Having all the powers of a country in the hands of a prime minister, regardless of who he is, is something that worries and should concern all Israeli citizens.
But is this reform really a threat to Israeli democracy?
Israel will always remain a democracy. Indeed, I believe that if this coalition goes too far, it will lose the next election. And unfortunately the new government will be as extreme as the current one and will do the exact opposite.
Reform is needed, but not in this way. Giving all this power to a prime minister can become a threat to democracy. Personally, I believe that this is not Netanyahu’s real intention, I believe he is motivated by self-interest due to the legal problems he is currently facing. And I really hope this is not the reason.
Is there a danger though?
At the moment yes. We will therefore do everything possible to ensure that we arrive at a more balanced reform.
What needs to be reformed in the current justice system?
There are changes we need to make. In recent years, the public has shown a lot of distrust of the system. There are problems related to sentences, transparency, and in this regard the Minister of Justice of the last government (Gideon Sa’ar, ed) has approved the establishment of a committee for the election of judges. However, there are changes we need to make to improve the justice system. But there’s a difference between trying to improve the system and taking over it. We also told Netanyahu: we agree to carry out the reform, but there is a need to discuss and reach the widest possible agreement.
Coinciding with the sudden increase in terrorist attacks in Israel, in recent days your bill to deny citizenship to terrorists and those who receive money from the Palestinian Authority passed its first reading in the Knesset. Can you explain your bill to us?
To those who kill innocent civilians and sow terror, the Palestinian Authority pays them a salary. These terrorists, who are paid to commit murders and terrorize our country, are regarded by the Authority itself as captive citizens and soldiers.
Those who commit this type of crime should not remain a citizen of the State of Israel, rather they should become citizens of that Authority they are fighting for.
Those who sow terror and are paid by a foreign entity to do so are betraying their country. This is why I think it is right for these people to renounce their citizenship and become Palestinian citizens as they wish.
What are your ambitions for the next few years?
To be able to bring stability and security to my country and my people. Defend them and their rights in any position I will hold.
What Israel do you dream of for your daughters?
I want my daughters to grow up in a country where their individual rights are protected and defended. A country where they can have the same opportunities as any other person. I want to give them a secure homeland in which to live and grow, and above all, appreciate and love our heritage and history.
Photo credit: נועם מושקוביץ | דוברות הכנסת
Nato a Roma. Giornalista pubblicista. Collaboratore per Shalom.it e responsabile della comunicazione sui social network per l’Archivio Storico della Comunità Ebraica di Roma. Consigliere con la delega a Roma e Tesoriere nel Consiglio Esecutivo 2018, Revisore dei Conti nel 2019 e per il 2023.
Caporedattore nel 2020, è l’attuale Direttore Editoriale di HaTikwa.