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Russian-born MK says fellow lawmaker ‘mocked her accent’

Zionist Union’s Ksenia Svetlova reports UTJ’s Menachem Mozes to the Ethics Committee for ridiculing her heritage

MK Ksenia Svetlova of the Zionist Union party as a new member of the Israeli Knesset, March 29, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
MK Ksenia Svetlova of the Zionist Union party as a new member of the Israeli Knesset, March 29, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Zionist Union MK Ksenia Svetlova on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Knesset’s Ethics Committee against a Knesset colleague who, she says “mocked my name, extraction and accent” in the plenary hall.

During a discussion at the Knesset, United Torah Judaism MK Menachem Mozes, a member of an ultra-Orthodox party, called to her “Ktenia, Slevtania, this one, I don’t know what she’s called, Tania.”

When she was elected to the Knesset in March, the Moscow-born freshman legislator pledged to work against racism, sexism and discrimination in Israel.

In October, Svetlova proposed a bill that would ban any party that refuses to allow women to run for the Knesset. While not explicitly named, the two parties that would be affected by the legislation are the ultra-Orthodox Shas and UTJ parties.

United Torah Judaism MKs Menahem Mozes (left) and Moshe Gafni (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)
United Torah Judaism MKs Menahem Mozes (left) and Moshe Gafni (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

Both Shas and UTJ have faced increasing scrutiny for excluding women with each election, and the backlash reached new heights during the March 2015 election campaign when a group of Orthodox women left to form their own party to ensure their representation.

Svetlova immigrated to Israel in 1991 at the age of 13. Before entering politics, she was an associate professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University and also worked extensively in journalism for local and international media outlets.

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