Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak arives before delivering a statement in Tel Aviv, Israel June 26, 2019.
(photo credit: CORINNA KERN/REUTERS)
Does Israel have a Democratic Party?
Democrats Abroad Israel chair Heather Stone responded to former prime minister Ehud Barak's name of his new party, "Israel Democratic Party," by saying it is “misleading, because Democrats Abroad has a country committee in Israel and Democrats Abroad is an arm of the Democratic Party.”
Barak told The Jerusalem Post
that the party should be called the Israel Democratic Party in English.
The party’s Hebrew name, “Yisrael Demokratit,” which was announced to the Hebrew press on Saturday before Shabbat ended, translates into “Democratic Israel.” But Barak decided to give his party a more international and worldly name in English.
The decision on the name faced immediate criticism from across the political spectrum.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein took to Twitter to criticize Barak, saying that "democracy begins with democratic procedure within the party. You do not have to learn from the Likud alone; you can learn from the party you left and destroyed, too. Remember?"
Former Jerusalem mayor and Likud MK Nir Barkat said, "There is only one party in the Israeli democracy that is truly democratic and with the ability to lead the country and the nation and it is the Likud."
"The Likud is nonpartisan and not sectorial (we have secular Jews, traditional Jews, religious Jews, haredi Jews and non-Jews)," he continued in a list of reasons the Likud is a prime example of a democratic party. "The Likud hold elections both for the head of the list and also for the Knesset list. The ties between the party's elected officials and its constituents are close and representative."
"The party formed by Barak does not have any of these characteristics," Barkat concluded. "And by the way, Israel is democratic and Jewish, for anyone that forgot."
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said, “There is no limit to the chutzpah of Barak, a failed politician who isn’t crossing the electoral threshold. The name won’t help him when he presents the public the same old failed path.”
Former Labor MK Eitan Cabel said Barak’s party can’t be called democratic if it is not a democratic party.
“It is a party where the decisions are made by one man,” Cabel said. “He always thought of himself in grandiose terms without any content behind him.”
Labor MK Stav Shaffir, who has been describing Labor as the country’s democratic party for the last five years, said she hoped the name of Barak’s new party could be used for a coalition of Blue and White, Labor, Meretz and the new party together.
Shaffir suggested that if such a coalition is not formed, the name would be wasted.
Otzma Yehudit Knesset candidate Itamar Ben-Gvir accused Barak of purposely misleading voters by calling his party names with different meanings in Hebrew and English.
“You can’t call an extreme leftist party that gets less than three mandates the Israeli Democratic Party,” Ben-Gvir said.
Barak will embark on an aggressive digital and billboard campaign attacking Netanyahu under the slogan “State of Netanyahu or State of Israel.” The campaign will warn that if the prime minister is reelected, democracy will be in danger.
“The State of Israel is facing a total dismantlement of Israeli democracy,” Barak said. “It is a strategic threat no smaller than the Iranian threat. The decision for every single one of us is between a state of Netanyahu or a State of Israel.”
Barak accused Netanyahu of destroying Israeli democracy and intentionally damaging the rule of law, the courts and the police.
“Now is the time to return hope and courage to Israel, to unite and to restore Israel to sanity,” Barak tweeted.
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