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Photo by: Courtesy Labor party
'Bibi is good for the rich, Shelly is good for you'
By LAHAV HARKOV
09/12/2012
Labor party reveals campaign slogan; Olmert, Habayit Hayehudi slam Yacimovich's economic plan, commitment to unions.
 
Labor revealed its election campaign centered around the slogan “Bibi is good for the rich – Shelly is good for you” on Sunday, continuing its focus on social issues, while former prime minister Ehud Olmert and Habayit Hayehudi slammed Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich’s economic plan.

“This is the topic that brought us where we are today, brought [Yacimovich] where she is today, and will bring us a higher number of seats” in the next Knesset, MK Eitan Cabel said of the party’s top issue.

MK Isaac Herzog – first on the Labor list after Yacimovich – Cabel and candidate and former National Union of Israeli Students chairman Itzik Shmuly presented the messages that Labor will spread in the coming weeks, at the party’s campaign headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Herzog compared Labor’s campaign to Hanukka, which he said “represents the victory of spirit over materialism,” and compared the party’s list for the Knesset to a Hanukka song with the line: “Each one is a small light, and together we are a strong light.”

Shmuly, a former leader of the 2011 social protests, called for “what started in the streets to end at the voting booth. That’s how you make a change in a democratic society,” he explained.

“[Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu didn’t make changes, so he must go, and Labor is the only real alternative.”

“Our slogan isn’t overly clever. We don’t need a message like that. We tell the public the simple truth, what they’re feeling in their gut,” he said.

Shmuly contrasted Yacimovich’s economic plan with “difficult economic decrees” he said Netanyahu plans to pass after the election.

“This time, Israelis must go to the ballots based on a socioeconomic agenda,” he said.

According to Labor’s strategic adviser Shalom Kittal, the party is not using the campaign to create an agenda; rather, the campaign was created based on existing socioeconomic concerns.

Kittal pointed to research by American strategist Stanley Greenberg for Labor, which showed that 53 percent of Israelis say socioeconomic issues are most important to them in voting, while only 32% chose peace as their priority.

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As for the party’s slogan, billboards and buses, but is also planning an “open source” campaign, letting the public choose its own messages.

Labor plans to launch a website and smartphone apps allowing users to add a message to a banner that says “Shelly is good for you.” Users will be able to download the graphic for free to upload to social media, or pay for a bumper sticker, T-shirt or banner.

As for former Labor MK Amir Peretz’s surprise departure to The Tzipi Livni Party on Thursday, Cabel said that “the story is over.”

“My friends and I will not talk about [Peretz] anymore. We will not deal with parties in the Center-Left; we are focusing on toppling Netanyahu,” he added.

Later Sunday, Olmert called Labor’s economic plan “superficial populism” at an economic conference.

“A month and a half before the election, we see politicians saying, ‘Hurt business and save the economy.’ It’s popular, and if you say take money from the rich, it’s even more popular,” he said. “There is no economic growth in a country without vibrant businesses that have a chance of earning money.”

In addition, Olmert slammed Yacimovich’s plan for proposing an annual NIS 28 billion increase in the deficit over the next five years, saying the government is supposed to try to cut spending.

“These proposals are superficial populism and irresponsible,” he stated.

Habayit Hayehudi pointed to the Labor slogan, saying that Netanyahu’s connections to “tycoons” is disturbing, but Yacimovich is just as committed to unions, and as such, cannot bring a solution to economic problems.

“Only Habayit Hayehudi, which is not committed to tycoons or to labor unions, can keep balance in the market without harming the nation’s interest,” a party spokesman said. “Yacimovich’s plan, to spend another NIS 138 billion, will lead to mass unemployment. Even in election season, responsibility is necessary,” the party concluded.

Labor responded to the criticism, saying it does not hate the rich and encourages business, works to increase competition in the market and help most Israeli citizens.

“It is not coincidental that Olmert, who over years connected the rich to the government and let hundreds of millions of shekels flow into the pockets of the rich, is now standing by them,” a party spokesman said. “As someone convicted of breach of trust and who kept envelopes of dollars on him, Olmert should avoid speaking about these topics and disappear from Israeli public life.”
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