November 9, 2006
By Amiram Barkat, Haaretz Correspondent
Tuesday’s U.S. elections brought the number of Jewish parliamentarians worldwide to an all-time high, according to the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians.
Following Wednesday’s results, the number of Jews in the Senate rose from 11 to 13 and in the House of Representatives from 26 to 30. However, the United States is still only in third place worldwide for the number of Jewish legislators, after Israel and Britain.
Britain, despite having a Jewish community 20 times smaller than that of the United States, has 59 Jewish members of parliament, including 18 in the House of Commons and 41 in the House of Lords. The latter number includes seven barons whose seats in the house were hereditary until recently. However, the umbrella organization of British Jewry said that in fact, the number of Jews in the House of Lords is even higher, totaling at least 46.
After Britain and the United States come France and Ukraine, with 18 Jewish legislators each, followed by Russia (13), Brazil (11), and Canada and Hungary (10 each). The only Arab country with a Jewish member of parliament is Tunisia.
According to the ICJP, there are 246 Jewish legislators worldwide (excluding Israel), up from 208 in 2005 – an increase of about 18 percent. This is the highest number recorded since the organization was established in 1988.
The organization noted that it does not use the halakhic definition of a Jew in determining whether a legislator is Jewish.
The director of the World Jewish Congress’s Israel office, Bobby Brown, said the data reflects Jews’ growing success in integrating into the countries where they live. Brown, who coordinates the ICJP’s work in Israel, also noted that in recent years, cooperation among Jewish legislators worldwide has increased.