With their striped shirts and academic degrees, Israel's new "yuppie" politicians have traded the rough-and-tumble Moshe Dayan style for a more image-conscious approach.
The new generation running in the Nov. 1 elections range in background from sons of leaders to lawyers to Sephardi, immigrants from poor backgrounds in North Africa.Among the candidates are men with well-known names like Benjamin Begin, son of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and lesser-known figures like Yossi Beilin, who gained experience as an aide to Labor Party leader and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.
The leaders next in line for both parties are more pragmatic than their ideology-bound predecessors about Israel's biggest problem, the Palestinians.
They also have parted with the old world manners and casual, open-shirt dress of first-generation Israeli politicians such as David Ben-Gurion, soldier and politician Dayan, or Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
"We don't kiss a lady's hand like our mentors did," said Roni Milo, 39, a rising star with the rightist Likud bloc, who who was referring to the sometimes courtly behavior of Polish-born Menachem Begin, founder of the Likud.
"We're more direct, sabra style, and more pragmatic. We young people are more capable of growing accustomed to new conditions," Milo added, flashing a boyish smile.
Milo's background is typical of many politicians his age of European descent. He is a sabra, a native-born Israel, and a lawyer who did party work in student government at Tel Aviv University. He inherited hawkish political beliefs from parents who fought the British in Begin's Irgun underground.
His career flourished after he won a seat in Parliament in 1977 with a Likud victory in national elections.
A second Likud deputy with leadership potential is Ehud Olmert, 42, also a lawyer who, despite his hard line on the Arab-Israeli conflict, has maintained quiet contacts with Palestinians from the occupied territories.
"We have a more pragmatic approach," Olmert said of himself and his generation in Likud. "Yes, we're against the PLO but we know we have to strike an agreement with the Palestinians."
Unlike Likud's younger politicians, most of the new faces who are certain to win election from the rival Labor Party will be taking their first Parliament seats after next month's vote.
didates for the Knesset."
Some Israeli analysts believe the new generation of politicians is too willing to compromise and lacks the ideological vision of the country's founders.
"They're all the same, whether in Labor or Likud, yuppies and opportunists," said Gabi Sheffer, a political scientist at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. "They're the product of growing materialism in Israeli society, they reflect the less idealistic society we have become."