Israel’s parliament members and ministers will likely never stop quarreling, but soon they will at least know how to do so more politely.
A special workshop scheduled to open in the Knesset in two weeks will teach lawmakers the basic rules of etiquette, as well as some advice related to their special role as elective representatives.
The new course will open following a number of embarrassing incidents which took place over the past year during MKs’ meetings with their colleagues in Israel and abroad.
Attempts have been made in the past to offer similar workshops, but this is the first time the plan will be implemented. The first lesson will be held on December 6.
“We host delegations from all over the world and represent the State of Israel abroad,” says the course’s initiator, MK Danny Danon (Likud), chairman of the Knesset’s Committee for immigration, Absorption and Diaspora. “In some countries, children get etiquette lessons in school and learn how to wait in line patiently, but here it just doesn’t exist.”
The MKs attending the first lesson will get to sit around tables set especially for the course and learn the right way to eat with a knife and fork and with their mouth closed.
They will also learn how to speak accurately, to avoid playing with their cellular phone in the middle of a meeting and the importance of not using bad language in public.
Bye bye cell phone
The course will be led by image consultant and etiquette guru Tami Lancut Leibovitz, who has become a devoted viewer of the Knesset Channel in preparation of the new role and has been able to map the lawmakers’ key problems.
“At the Knesset cafeteria there is a very pleasant atmosphere,” she says, “but when the Knesset plenum begins they just don’t know how to talk to each other. I see the way they eat, and it’s traumatic as far as I’m concerned.
“They can’t use a napkin, they don’t put their chairs back in place, and they know nothing about eating utensil etiquette, which is the most basic thing.”
The most difficult issue will likely be convincing the MKs to bid farewell to their cellular phone when entering meetings.
“Nowhere in the world have I ever seen people who are constantly busy texting or playing on their phone,” Lancut Leibovitz adds. “If someone is expecting an urgent phone call from the prime minister – fine, but the rest should shut down the device during a discussion or meeting.”
And what about the MKs’ frequent participation in Mimouna feasts after Passover? “They must not move from place to place quickly without sitting down and eating,” she stresses. “They must know how long to stay and when they must eat despite being on a diet.”