Four out of five Labor leadership candidates – MKs Isaac Herzog and Amir Peretz,
former Labor chairman Amram Mitzna and venture capitalist Erel Margalit – all
slammed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, calling for a return to “social
“Since 1977, when Labor was pushed out of the leadership,
we have been ruled by the Likud, by a worldview that favors a free market and
does not take responsibility for citizens and basic services,” Mitzna
“In the last few weeks, the silent majority in Israel – the middle
class and farmers – has risen up and said, ‘We’ve had enough.’” Mitzna said
Labor was “the alternative to piggish capitalism – a party with a social
worldview,” and called for the candidates to “renew the public’s faith in
“There are 350,000 people outside saying it’s time to wake up,”
Margalit said, adding that as leader of Labor, he would “write the new social
contract in an Israel that is looking for leaders.” Every protester is a
potential new Labor Party member, Margalit emphasized Peretz said Netanyahu’s
“socioeconomic ideas are a religion. He believes the more rich people get rich,
the stronger everyone else will be.” However, Peretz went on, “the rich people
crashed, and now everyone else feels like they’ve fallen off their ladder and
been left alone.”
“We are the only party that has solutions for housing,
education and pensions in its DNA,” Herzog said.
“Netanyahu will only
change in opposition. We will not tolerate this slap in the face.”
fifth Labor leadership candidate, MK Shelly Yacimovich, was not in attendance,
as she was hosting a separate event in Jerusalem, a fact Herzog made sure to
“Not all of us are here, even though we arranged this date
together,” he pointed out, not mentioning Yacimovich by name. “It makes me
Herzog slammed Yacimovich – again, not by name – for not
presenting stances on diplomatic matters, saying that Israel would face “major
diplomatic issues” in September, when the Palestinian Authority is expected to
win a UN vote on statehood.
“Stop the craziness,” Herzog said, in
reference to Yacimovich’s filing complaints in court to delay Labor elections
because of illegal membership- recruitment efforts.
will harm Labor,” Herzog declared. “Let our members decide; after that, we can
move forward and attain our goals.”
“We’re busy worrying about ourselves
in courts and in primaries, when outside there’s a revolution,” Margalit
At the same time, he called for the primaries to be delayed, so
more protesters could join Labor.
Peretz defended his party recruits,
hundreds of whom were disqualified because they had not yet left the Likud,
saying that they were disillusioned with Netanyahu.
“If we only recruit
from Kadima and Meretz, we’ll stay in opposition,” he said.
Yacimovich, who did not attend the event in Be’er Tuvia, indirectly criticized
Peretz at a parlor meeting in Jerusalem’s German Colony. Without mentioning
Peretz by name, she blamed him for the thousands of appeals on Labor’s
membership list that could result in the race being delayed.
ed over time. Write a report on
development and innovation in agriculture.”
thousand appeals have been issued, and I haven’t issued any of them,” Yacimovich
said. “More than 5,000 members have joined who are members in Kadima and Likud
and have not canceled their membership in those parties. There are masses who
don’t even know they joined Labor. They were taken out of the membership rolls,
and there are appeals to put them on the list. I am doing everything possible to
prevent that from happening.
“I fight for the rule of law, and the rule
of law must start at home.”
Yacimovich promised that if elected, she
would keep Labor’s primary system but find a way to make the primaries more
democratic and clean them up.
When it comes to general elections,
Yacimovich said she was against changing the political system.
the system could disempower people and endanger our democracy,” she
“It’s not the floor that’s crooked, it’s the people above it. With
this system, we’ve gone to war, which is the most intense decision a government
can make. It’s not the system that’s the problem.”
The panel’s venue,
which was packed mostly with senior citizens, was near Be’er Tuvia’s dairy
farms, where a sign reading “This dairy farm will soon close because of Bibi”
was posted. Agriculture and dairy farming were major topics at the
“The farmers connected the periphery of the country with the
protests on Rothschild Avenue,” Peretz explained. “The middle class alone cannot
run the revolution; the big protest must be connected to the
Herzog called Netanyahu’s policies toward dairy farms “one big
Instead of cutting budgets for security, haredim and
settlements, Netanyahu hurts those who truly represent Zionism,” he
“The Labor Party knows agriculture isn’t just another business,”
Mitzna said. “Our worldview is connected to the land.”
He added: “The
state must be responsible for the production of basic food products.
Privatization is not a dirty word, but the basics cannot be
Margalit called for farmers to work on their public
relations and tell the state how vital they are.
“You farmers are always
playing defense – it’s time to play offense,” he said. “Tell the state clearly
which branches of agriculture need to be protect