Candidates: ‘Labor the alternative to piggish capitalism’

Party leadership candidates present themselves as the solution to nationwide demonstrations.

By
August 11, 2011 02:26
4 minute read.
Amir Peretz, the Labor four

Amir Peretz and Labor 4 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

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 governments.”

“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 said.

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“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 Labor.”

“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.”

The 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 emphasize.

“Not all of us are here, even though we arranged this date together,” he pointed out, not mentioning Yacimovich by name. “It makes me wonder.”

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.

“Stopping elections 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 said.

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.

MK Shelly 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.
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“Eleven 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.

“Changing the system could disempower people and endanger our democracy,” she said.

“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 event.

“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 land.”

Herzog called Netanyahu’s policies toward dairy farms “one big terrorist attack.

Instead of cutting budgets for security, haredim and settlements, Netanyahu hurts those who truly represent Zionism,” he said.

“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 privatized.”

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


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