Shaffir announces Knesset run with Labor Party
Despite original vows to stay out of electoral politics, leaders of social protest movement reconsider their strategy.
Stav Shaffir, one of the main initiators of the summer 2011 social justice protests, formally announced on Friday that she will run for a Knesset seat with the Labor Party in the upcoming elections.
“I never thought I would be a politician. I always believed that there was a way to influence the system from outside, using social pressure, education work and all the other things we have done everyday in the past year,” Shaffir, a former journalist, told The Jerusalem Post.
“I went through a very big personal change in the past year, a sort of difficult experience that taught me that even the voices of 500,000 people in the streets cannot influence the system,” she explained. “I feel that if this is how things are, I am obligated to take this step and expand our influence beyond the street.”
Shaffir said Israeli society is what drives her to take the political step and “defend the basic social rights” that the movement has been fighting for since July 2011.
Shaffir added that she is not worried about her upcoming political journey, but has a lot of expectations: “People say that the political scene changes individuals who enter it, but I think that, even though it’s a strong statement, the political scene itself will not change if no one enters it.”
“I invested a lot in the past year into traveling around the country and meeting people from all ages, all communities, all situations to understand Israeli society and its needs,” she said. “I have learned a lot and still have a lot to learn but I think that with all the amazing people who work with me, I really feel like it’s not me alone who’s doing this. It’s an amazing strength to walk with.”
On her Facebook page, where she had made the announcement on Friday, Shaffir explained her choice to join the Labor Party: “The Labor Party headed by Shelly Yacimovich is the political home that combines tradition and history with thousands of deserving young men and women who bravely fight for the future of this country,” she wrote.
Shaffir’s former roommate and one of the organizers of the social justice movement, Yonatan Levy, told the Post in a recent interview: “The last year and a half has proven to us that if we are not in the political sphere, it doesn’t really matter how many people we will get to come out to the streets,” he said. “At the end of the day, the decisions are made in the political system.”
Itzik Shmuli, head of the National Union of Israeli Students and one of the movement’s leaders, had also been approached by several political parties to run for Knesset in the past year but said he has not yet come to a decision.