Shelly Yacimovich at Labor Central Committee 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich overcame serious challenges at a stormy Labor
Party convention in Tel Aviv Thursday night that deteriorated into slurs and
almost degenerated into physical violence.
Emotions boiled over at the
event when Danny Zamir, an activist loyal to Yacimovich, called the crowd
“arsim,” a derogatory Hebrew slang term for the Israeli stereotype of low-class
young men that often carries ethnic connotations.
A burly man went on
stage to try to attack Zamir but Labor officials restrained him. Party
secretary-general MK Hilik Bar stopped Zamir’s speech and called himself a proud
. Yacimovich later defended Zamir personally but apologized for his
MKs Eitan Cabel, Erel Margalit, Isaac Herzog, and Histadrut
labor federation chief Ofer Eini all ganged up on Yacimovich at the
They tried unsuccessfully to prevent her from passing a series of
procedural changes that they warned would make the party less
“I would have thought the first convention after the election
would deal with why Labor lost the election,” Margalit said.
organization that failed its mission that I have seen forms an objective
committee to investigate the failure. Miss Chairwoman, what are you
Margalit said Labor lost the election because it became a niche
party and did not speak clearly enough on diplomatic issues. He warned against
Yacimovich’s socioeconomic policies and her methods of running the
“If Labor continues its extremist socialist economic policies, it
will be a party smaller than Meretz,” Margalit said. “We are not [Yisrael
Beytenu leader Avigdor] Liberman! We are not [Yesh Atid chairman Yair] Lapid! We
are a democratic party and that means our activists will not be a rubber stamp!”
Cabel complained that Yacimovich’s loyalists had threatened him and cursed him
on his Facebook page. He accused her of showing him the door from the party like
she did to his former political ally Amir Peretz.
“I have fought for this
party and I won’t be thrown out of it,” Cabel said. “I was here before you and I
will be here after. No one can silence me. [Former Labor leader] Ehud
Barak didn’t succeed in silencing me and you won’t either.”
Eini accused Yacimovich of dividing the party by insisting on voting on
controversial issues rather than holding a day-long debate.
responded by accusing her critics of wanting to join the coalition and continue
what she called the party’s “genetic defect” of joining every government. She
vowed to run the party much more democratically than her
“We will be a democratic pillar of defense,” she said,
referring to the IDF operation in Gaza last year by that name.
“I am not
afraid of democracy. We have never been so democratic. But real power doesn’t
come from procedure. It comes from an ideological path.”
up succeeding in passing all her proposals by a wide margin.
soon hold a day-long ideological forum on the party’s diplomatic- security
platform. The convention appointed a committee of party members to plan the
event and start working on the platform.
After the event, Cabel said
Yacimovich “won, but this was her swan song. This was the beginning of the end
of her reign in Labor.”