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Daughter of former MP Irwin Cotler aims to “transcend political and religious divides”

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The daughter of the famed Irwin Cotler, Michal Cotler-Wunsh has big ambitions as one of the newest members of the Knesset| Photo: WhatsApp

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With the recent expansion of the Norwegian Law enacted in Israel this past June, many aspects involve how ministers’ seats are represented in the Knesset. The new law allows for a total of 11 MKs (Members of Knesset) who were runners-up on the election lists, to join the previously-elected MKs in the Knesset.

Michal Cotler-Wunsh of the Blue and White Party is one of those MKs who, because of the new law, can enter the Knesset with five other candidates from the party. She is the daughter of former MP, and human rights activist, Irwin Cotler. She spent much of her childhood and adult life in Montreal, while also spending a considerable amount of time in Israel.

Acccording to her Knesset bio, her “key roles before being elected to the Knesset include a being fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism and a board member of Tzav Pius (Reconciliation Order), a nonprofit that strives to bring together Israelis who hold different worldviews on the religious-secular spectrum.”

She was also director of the international relations department at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, and was in charge of sexual harassment prevention. She also headed efforts to plan, develop, and strengthen connections between Israel and the Diaspora.

TheJ.ca recently conducted an interview with MK Cotler-Wunsh to discuss her political viewpoints, and future plans as a sitting MK.

How does it feel to be the third MK of Canadian background?

I am very proud to be bringing my Canadian background with me into the Knesset, both in terms of the unique perspectives it gives me, and in terms of being able to identify with the numerous “Olim” (immigrants to Israel). One of my priorities as a Member of Knesset is speaking up for these immigrants, and improving the various impediments to integration that they face. I also hope to use my Canadian background to work towards enhancing Israeli-Diaspora relations, and bridge the growing gap between them.

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Have you decided if you will sit with the unity government or with the opposition?

Yes, I am sitting in the coalition as part of the Blue and White party.

What drew you to Israel and Israeli politics, over life in Canada? Do you have any advice for Canadians who want to get involved with Canadian politics?

As a Zionist, I feel deeply committed to using my background as an international human rights lawyer to ensure that Israel prospers as a Jewish and democratic state.

The advice I have for Canadians who want to get involved in politics — and I would say not just Canadian politics but also Israeli politics — is to dare to be the change they want to see in the world. It is important for those interested in politics to seek out opportunities, and not be afraid to break stereotypes that might seem to be impediments. It is also important to remember that we are each potential change-agents, and that we must take responsibility in order to repair, or change.

Your mother worked for many years for the Likud Party, during Menachem Begin’s leadership. Why did you decide to run under the Blue and White slate, and not Likud?

Blue and White seeks to focus on Israel’s diverse, and often silent majority of citizens, and that is something that I very much care about. The divides of the past are much less relevant in Israeli society today, and Blue and White is, in my view, a reflection of the large consensual majority in the Israeli public.

The Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center Law & War Conference 2019 - KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Michal Cotler-Wunsh

Do you support the Trump peace plan, including the application of Israel law to parts of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley?

I view the Plan — and I will be clear I am referring to the Plan as what was expressed in the “Peace to Prosperity” document, and not any decisions and maps that I have not seen — as an opportunity to give both Israelis, and the Palestinians, agency to begin a process towards prosperity and peace.

It also recognizes some of the crucial parameters for this framework to succeed,  namely, the imperative to recognize the right of Israel to exist; the necessity of the Palestinians ending incitement and the “pay-for-slay” law that allows those that commit violent terror attacks and their families to receive a financial reward; the acceptance of living side-by-side in peace with the State of Israel; and the need for Israel to be responsible for its own security, including realistic borders.

What are your plans, if any, to enhance and strengthen Israeli-Canadian relations? Is moving the embassy to Jerusalem near the top?

I am looking forward to working with my peers in Canada in inter-parliamentary forums, and in sharing best practices on a variety of issues that can mutually benefit both countries. The issue of moving the Embassy is a Canadian diplomatic decision, so it will not be one of my areas of focus.

Did Sharren Haskel (the other Canadian-born MK) congratulate you? If so, what did she say? If not, do you plan to reach out to her?

Sharren Haskel came up to me in the plenary on my first day here to congratulate me, and wish me luck. It is important to me to engage with the diverse Members of Knesset, including the other Canadians, transcending political and religious divides that make up our government, in order to best serve the Israeli public.

Jakob Glogauer is a Toronto-based writer, with a focus on Israel and Jewish issues. He spends his spare time researching human rights issues of concern in Canada and around the world, as well as advocating for Israel in every way possible. His work has been published in JNS, The Epoch Times, The Times of Israel, and many other publications.

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Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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