Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich followed up on journalist Yair Lapid's announcement that he was forming a new party by revealing on Monday that Labor
would have a celebrity of its own on its Knesset slate: Noam
Schalit, an engineer for the Iscar company owned by US
billionaire Warren Buffett, gained fame for waging a fiveyear struggle to bring
home his soldier son, Gilad. Now he hopes his fame can help him build a
Noam Schalit: Gilad underwent difficult things in captivity
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“After years of public struggle, in which I was
privileged to get to to know the moral and beautiful sides of Israeli society, I
have decided to join the public service,” Schalit said in a statement released
Explaining his motives for the career change, he said, “This is
out of desire to serve the public, and to be in a place from which I can
influence Israeli society’s image. The Labor Party is a social democratic party,
and a proponent of peace. Therefore, it is my natural home.”
welcomed the announcement, saying the restraint Schalit showed in his effort to
bring his son home impressed her.
“The struggle of Schalit and his family
for Gilad’s release began as a private struggle, but evolved into a struggle
that encapsulates the core values of Israel society – solidarity, mutual support
and Zionism,” Yacimovich said.
Schalit will hold a press conference with
Yacimovich at labor’s Kfar Saba headquarters on Tuesday. He will not have to
apply to join the party because he has been a registered member since
Yacimovich denied the announcement was tied to Lapid’s decision to
She said Schalit gave her his final answer on Saturday
night and they planned to announce the move on Monday.
“I considered not
doing it because of [Lapid], but we decided to stick to the original plan,” she
told Channel 2.
“[Schalit’s joining] wasn’t intended to be a contra to
But MKs on the Right accused Yacimovich of cynically bringing
Schalit into politics in order to attract attention.
“I think the trend
of bringing celebrities into politics just because they are celebrities is
disgusting,” National Union MK Arye Eldad said.
strengthen or weaken Labor. He has saved his son, but there are other people who
have accomplished other things. It doesn’t indicate any political
Deputy Negev and Galilee Development Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud)
went further. He said Schalit did not hide his politics during the campaign to
bring about his son’s release from Gaza, and he was now breaking the consensus
around bringing Gilad home.
“He should have been more careful,” Kara
said. “This government did everything possible and paid such a heavy price to
bring Gilad home and in return got a slap in the face from his father. It leaves
a bad taste in my mouth.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak welcomed Schalit’s
decision to run in the party he headed until a year ago.
“Any force that
enters politics is welcomed,” Barak said.
“Israeli society is full of