Young Labor activists debate ‘Shelly’s stars’

In newspaper op-eds, party members differ over whether Yechimovich should bring in well-known figures to its Knesset list.

August 17, 2012 03:16
2 minute read.
Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich

Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich 370 (R). (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

A general election may not be on the way, but young Labor activists are waging a war of words over whom party leader Shelly Yechimovich plans to back in the next Knesset candidates list.

On Thursday, Ran Livne, head of Labor’s volunteer headquarters, wrote an article saying that, under Yechimovich’s leadership, the party is in its “golden age,” in response to an open letter by former Labor Young Guard chairman Eran Hermoni, which was sent to The Jerusalem Post and published on news site Walla this week, where Livne’s article will also appear.

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Hermoni’s letter says Yechimovich prefers celebrities over young, loyal activists for the party’s next list for the Knesset, calling for her to “give a chance to the natural growth of leadership.”

In recent months, persistent rumors have appeared in various Israeli newspapers that Yechimovich is recruiting famous figures for her party.

The two names mentioned most often are social protest leader Stav Shafir and National Union of Israeli Students chairman Itzik Shmuli. In addition, there have been reports that Orly Vilnai, host of the Orly and Guy morning show, which is known for focusing on social issues, may find a spot on Labor’s list for the 19th Knesset.

Hermoni’s letter begins by citing Labor’s recent rise to the second-largest party in recent polls, saying that it is, once again, the ideological alternative to the Likud, and “talk of undermining Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s leadership, which seemed unrealistic, have suddenly become a real possibility that cannot be ignored.”

However, Hermoni, a lawyer who leads a group called “The Israeli Voice for Zionism and Social Democracy,” wrote: “The awakening that the Labor Party is undergoing can be complete only if it includes natural growth of leadership from within the party, its branches and its youth movements.”

“Time after time, whenever there is an internal election, ‘celebs’ and stars came out from their hiding place and were chosen to represent Labor in the Knesset,” Hermoni wrote. “Like shooting stars, they leave a train of dust in the sky, and then disappear.”

Hermoni explained that a non-celebrity who spent years in the party’s institutions can only watch the stars above them, who end up being “mediocre politicians in the present, lacking any future.”

According to Livne, Labor gained many new members who agree with Yechimovich’s vision of social-democracy, since she took the reins of the party.

“Party members took part as participants, leaders and initiators of a large part of social protests in the last year, from the tent protest, the reservists and consumer boycotts,” the pro-Yechimovich activist wrote. “They do not want to give up on the ability to influence reality in the party.”

Livne wrote that “work horses” from within the party or celebrities should not be measured by their active years in Labor, but rather by their ideology and ability to bring results.

“There is no reason to worry,” the activist explained.

“The young and old party members will not make a mistake. Those who translate their experience leading student unions and did not fear refusing the prime minister’s offers during the tent protest, those who led consumer boycotts, fought against contract work and for the rights of cleaners on campuses, can tell the difference between passing stars and hard-working people who will lead social-democratic legislation in the coming years.”

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