Herzog denies making racist comments about Majadele

WikiLeaks cable shows Labor chief said appointment of Arab weakens party's standing; Herzog says he supports Arab MK.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
April 17, 2011 08:38
2 minute read.
Isaac Herzog

Herzog 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

MK Isaac Herzog (Labor) on Sunday denied making inherently racist comments as quoted in a recent leaked WikiLeaks document published in Ha'aretz. This is the second time that Herzog has come under fire from potentially embarrassing statements he made to US diplomats five to nearly six years ago.

This time, Herzog was reported to have told a US diplomat, among other things, that bringing in an Arab MK weakened Labor's standing in elections.

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"I made no racist comments," Herzog told Army Radio on Sunday. "I support Raled Majadele's appointment. I estimated, however that in polls and surveys the move would have weakened us." Herzog added that the US diplomat had asked Herzog for Labor's potential weaknesses, and that Herzog expounded on the potential problems facing his faction.

"Six years have already passed; this needs to be taken into perspective," Herzog said.

Last Week, MK Amir Peretz accepted clarifications from Herzog, his fellow Labor leadership candidate, a day after Haaretz had published a different racist quote attributed to Herzog in a WikiLeaks document.

The document quoted Peretz telling American diplomat Robert Danin during the 2006 election campaign that Peretz, who was Labor’s candidate for prime minister, was perceived as “aggressive, inexperienced, and Moroccan,” but that Labor’s list for the Knesset had Ashkenazim that balanced out the Sephardim.

In an interview with Army Radio on Thursday, Danin denied that Herzog used such language and backed up Herzog’s vigorous denials that he would say such things.

Later Thursday, Herzog and Peretz held a sulha (reconciliation) meeting in the latter’s Tel Aviv office.

“The meeting was held in a good atmosphere and I am glad that this episode is past us,” Herzog said. “The good of the party obligates us to know how to work together even after the election is over.”

Peretz said that from his point of view, the matter was closed.

He pledged to work with full force to unify the party and keep the race focused on serious issues.

In another sign that Herzog had been forgiven, the World Federation of Moroccan Jewry invited him to be an honorary guest at its Mimouna celebration the day after Pessah.


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