Ksenia Svetlova

Ksenia Svetlova (Hebrew: קסניה סבטלובה‎; Russian: Ксения Светлова, born Moscow 28 July 1977) is an Israeli politician, journalist, associate professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and policy fellow at the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies. She served as a member of Knesset for the Zionist Union.

Ksenia Svetlova
U.S. Embassy in Israel. July 4th 2015 (19189478480) (cropped).jpg
Date of birth (1977-07-28) 28 July 1977 (age 42)
Place of birthMoscow, Soviet Union
Year of aliyah1991
Faction represented in Knesset
2015–2019Zionist Union

Personal lifeEdit

Svetlova was born in Moscow to a family of intelligentsia. Her father Professor Igor Svetlov, was an art historian and member of the Russian Academy of Arts, and her mother Svetlana Sorokina a patent lawyer. Her paternal grandfather Konstantin Dmitrievich Valerius was the chief of metallurgy production of the USSR and recipient of the Order of Lenin, before he was executed by Josef Stalin in 1938 and posthumously rehabilitated by Nikita Khrushchev in 1958. Her stepgrandfather was Yevgeny Vuchetich, the famous sculptor behind The Motherland Calls, who married her paternal grandmother, the art historian Sarah (née Samuel) Valerius. Her maternal grandmother, Dr. Victoria Moiseevna, was the head of the department of neurology, of First City hospital Moscow.

Between 1984 and 1991, Svetlova attended School 77 in Moscow. In 1991, at age 14, she immigrated to Israel with her mother. Her mother said that the only country they could immigrate to was Israel, stating: "If we must leave our beloved city, our native Moscow, then we can only leave it for home."[1]

In Israel, Svetlova attended Bat Zion Orthodox boarding school in Jerusalem. She later studied Islamic and Middle Eastern history at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, earning Bachelor's and Master's degrees. As of 2015, she is a doctoral candidate in Middle Eastern studies and an associate professor at Hebrew University.[2] She is also a policy fellow at Mitvim, the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies.[3]

Svetlova had both Russian and Israeli citizenship. As a result of her Russian citizenship, while she was a journalist, she was able to travel extensively in the Arab world. However, in 2015, she renounced her Russian passport as a requirement for entering the Knesset, which she described as a career sacrifice. She speaks Russian, Hebrew, English, and Arabic. She lives in Modi'in and has two daughters.[2]

Journalism careerEdit

In 2002, Svetlova joined the Russian language "Israel Plus" channel as a commentator on Arab affairs. She has written for newspapers and media outlets, including the Jerusalem Post, the Jerusalem Report, Haaretz and the BBC Russian Service. In her capacity as a journalist, she has interviewed Yasser Arafat, Ahmed Yassin, and Mahmoud Abbas.

Political careerEdit

Before the 2015 Knesset elections, Svetlova joined the Zionist Union (an alliance of the Labor Party and Hatnuah)[4] and was placed 21st on the list, a slot reserved for a candidate chosen by Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni.[5] She was elected to the Knesset as the alliance won 24 seats.[6] After her election, she was required to give up her Russian citizenship,[7] which had been an asset to her past travel to the Arab world.

In an i24news interview, Svetlova stated her priority as an incoming MK would be advancing the peace process.[8] She also pledged to work against racism and discrimination.[9] Once a Knesset member, she joined the Foreign affairs and Defense and Aliyah and Absorption committees, as well as heading three parliamentary caucuses: for the protection of the heritage and culture of Jews from Arab and Islamic countries, a caucus for freedom of speech and expression, and a caucus that supports strengthening the ties between Israel and the Kurdish nation.

Svetlova is an advocate for progressive denominations of Judaism, having been refused a divorce for two years by the Chief Rabbinate.[10]

Knesset positionsEdit

In the 20th Knesset, Svetlova serves in the following positions:

  • Chair, Lobby for Strengthening Relations between the State of Israel and the Kurdish people
  • Chair, Lobby for the Preservation of the Culture of Jews from Islamic Countries
  • Chair, Lobby for Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Expression
  • Chair, Lobby for Consumer Protection
  • Member, Lobby for Strengthening the Jewish World
  • Member, Lobby for Strengthening Healthy Body Image among children, teenagers and young adults
  • Member, Lobby for Fair Pension
  • Member, Lobby of Religion and State
  • Member, Lobby for the Status of Workers in Israel
  • Member, Lobby for the Struggle Against the Delegitimization of the State of Israel
  • Member, Lobby for Distributive Justice
  • Member, Lobby for the Protection of Preschoolers in Israel
  • Member, Lobby for the Unity of the Nation
  • Member, Lobby for the Struggle Against Racism
  • Member, Lobby for Fair Collection Processes at Hotzaa Lapoal (Israel`s collection agency)


  1. ^ Мужская работа женщины-политика — израильский вариант Сложное общество
  2. ^ a b Huffington Post bio
  3. ^ "Ms. Ksenia Svetlova". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-30.
  4. ^ Zionist Union list Central Elections Committee
  5. ^ Russian journalist joins Zionist Camp list Times of Israel, 18 January 2015
  6. ^ Final Unofficial* results of the Elections for the Twentieth Knesset Central Elections Committee
  7. ^ Five new MKs must give up foreign citizenship Haaretz, 26 March 2015
  8. ^ Interview with Ksenia Svetlova, i24news, 31 March 2015
  9. ^ Meet Israel's new lawmakers, Ynetnews, 20 March 2015
  10. ^ Judy Maltz, Among new Knesset faces, some staunch advocates of Jewish pluralism, Haaretz (March 25, 2015)

External linksEdit

  Media related to Ksenia Svetlova at Wikimedia Commons