New Right party welcomes first-ever deaf candidate to Knesset

Activist for the disabled, Shirley Pinto, could become the first hearing-impaired member of Knesset.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Shirley Pinto could become the first hearing-impaired member of Knesset when the New Right Party led by Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked selected her to run on the party list.

Pinto, 30, is a social and political activist known for promoting the rights of deaf people and Israeli sign language. She is a co-founder of the Israeli Center for Deaf Studies. In December 2018, she advised the mayor of Ramat Gan, a city on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, on disability issues.

She also served in the Israel Air Force as a project and logistic manager, and received a commendation for her service from Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

Pinto was born to a deaf father and a blind and deaf mother.

Minister Bennett tweeted on Tuesday, “Shirley Pinto, a right-wing, religiously traditional, social fighter who was born deaf and didn’t concede at any stage finished her service in the Israel Air Force with a presidential commendation. Together with her we will make history and she will be the first deaf person in the Knesset.”

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The two other members of the candidates’ list of the new party, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and journalist Caroline Glick also welcomed Pinto to the New Right.

Bennett also tweeted a video of himself and the two other candidates of the new party signing their welcome to Pinto.

Services for those with disabilities has become a political issue in recent years, with disabled people engaging in months of protests in 2017, which included blocking traffic, to increase state benefits.