Greenberg denies initiating Israeli economic protests

America’s top Democratic political strategist rejects reports that he played key role in socioeconomic demonstrations.

November 23, 2011 04:52
2 minute read.
Tel Aviv housing tent protesters

Tel Aviv housing tent protesters 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)

America’s top Democratic political strategist Stanley Greenberg denied published reports that he played a key role in this summer’s socioeconomic demonstrations in Israel in an e-mail he sent to The Jerusalem Post.

Greenberg served as a political consultant and strategist for Ehud Barak’s successful 1999 campaign for prime minister.

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Ahead of that election, left-wing activists formed several non-profit organizations focusing on different socioeconomic issues that helped build support for Barak’s candidacy.

The organizations claimed at the time to be apolitical. But their connection to Barak’s associates later became clear, leading to investigations by the state comptroller and the police, for which Barak was questioned about whether the NPOs illegally funded his campaign.

This summer’s socioeconomic protests also were reported to be apolitical, but the first tents on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard were provided by attorney Eldad Yaniv, the founder of the National Left party, as well as Barak’s bureau chief in 1999.

Yaniv, who is a fierce critic of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, is expected to run for the next Knesset.

Ma’ariv investigative reporter Kalman Liebskind, who broke the Barak NPO scandal after the 1999 race, reported on September 2 that plans for this summer’s protests were hatched at a March 22 meeting with Greenberg in Tel Aviv attended by Yaniv, former Barak strategist Moshe Gaon, and other key left-wing activists.

The report said that Greenberg advised the activists that the best way to bring votes from the Right to the Left was not to highlight diplomatic issues, but rather to refocus public discourse on a socioeconomic agenda via grassroots protests that could attract the support of a majority of the population.

The article compared the 1999 NPOs and 2011 protests that were both headed by previously unknown grassroots figures and quoted Gaon as telling left-wing activists that Greenberg had advised him to “take action, constantly, on the way to victory.”

In the immediate aftermath of that article, Greenberg declined to comment. But asked by the Post in Washington whether he helped initiate this summer’s protests in Israel, Greenberg responded “No. Not true.”

Liebskind responded that he presented a series of facts in his article about Greenberg’s speech in Tel Aviv and its impact on the summer’s protest and “facts cannot be refuted.”

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