Labor chairman Shelly Yacimovich failed her party, MK Isaac Herzog said on
Herzog declared himself victorious at a campaign event in Tel
Aviv, three weeks before the Labor leadership primary.
Speaking to a
packed house with campaign signs reading “We will win,” Herzog ascended the
stage to cheers of “Buji, Buji,” his nickname, and “the next prime
“We will win! We will bring Labor back to the days when most
of the public supported it,” he said.
Herzog said Yacimovich was a
failure as a party leader, leading Labor “from a mass movement to a niche
“Under Yacimovich, Labor will not be strong and won’t lead the
government. Yacimovich isn’t bringing people who are disappointed with Yesh Atid
back to our party,” he said.
The Labor leadership candidate said the
party under Yacimovich “says what’s wrong but not what should be done,” adding
that “leadership is not in headlines but in action.”
Herzog discussed the
importance of a peace treaty, saying that without one “there are two options: An
apartheid state or one that is very different from what we have
“Without peace, we cannot fix the problems in society,” he remarked,
a reference to what is seen as his strong suit and Yacimovich’s weak area,
“On November 22 [the day after the primary], Labor will go
back to being itself again.
On November 22, we will win,” Herzog
The campaign launch opened with the Yehuda Poliker song “New
Beginnings,” a not-so-thinly veiled hint at what Herzog is hoping for in the
Campaign staffers said 1,200 party members attended the
event. Most of the crowd was middle-aged and older, as opposed to Yacimovich’s
supporters, who are thought to be younger – though the rival politicians are the
same age, 53.
There was also a strong show of force by Arab Labor members
The party’s MK Merav Michaeli made a surprise
appearance at the event, indicating for the first time that she is taking a side
in the Labor race.
“I joined Labor because it believes in the three
important legs Israel stands on: Peace, equality and democracy,” Michaeli said.
“These are the values of the Labor Party that built the State of
In a reference to what is seen as Yacimovich’s weak suit and
Herzog’s strength, Michaeli said “there cannot be socioeconomic reforms without
a security- diplomatic policy.”
After debating for several weeks because,
Michaeli said, both Yacimovich and Herzog are good options, she chose the latter
because “he is experienced but still a new leader and the right man to lead
Remarking on the crowded hall, MK Eitan Cabel called the campaign
launch “a display of force we haven’t seen in years in the Labor Party. I feel
goosebumps looking at it.
“This isn’t just another party; this is a
battle for our home,” Cabel said. “I made a decision to do what is right for the
Labor Party, for Israel, for our children, and support Herzog.”
Margalit said that “only Herzog can unite people from all over the country,”
pointing out that activists came to the campaign launch from the North, South
Cabel, Margalit and Michaeli are the only other MKs
backing Herzog, while nine of Labor’s 15 lawmakers – MKs Omer Bar- Lev, Nachman
Shai, Moshe Mizrahi, Miki Rosenthal, Stav Shaffir, Michal Biran, Itzik Shmuli
and Knesset Economics Committee chairman Avishay Braverman – support
Labor secretary-general MK Hilik Bar and MK Binyamin
Ben-Eliezer, who is running for president, remain neutral.
Thursday, Herzog’s campaign announced that Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Rishon
Lezion Mayor Dov Tsur and Kfar Saba Mayor Yehuda Ben-Hemo support
The three released a statement saying “Herzog is the right man to
lead the Labor Party and strengthen it. He will bring the democracy and
transparency back to the party.
Working together with him, we saw an
experienced man, a leader, who will bring the party forward, strengthen it and
bring back many supporters who left it.”