National Union of Israeli Students chairman Itzik Shmuly announced on Wednesday
his plans to run in the November Labor primary.
He resigned from his post
on Wednesday, days after the student union launched a “get out the vote”
Shmuly, one of the leaders of the summer 2011 social protests,
resigned from the NUIS at midnight on Tuesday, holding a press conference with
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich in Tel Aviv 12 hours later, to officially launch
his political career.
“Whether to join politics or not was a major
dilemma, but there was never any question as to which party to join,” Shmuly
said. “Labor is the only party for the people I represent.”
Shmuly plans to join Labor have appeared in the press since early 2012. In
recent weeks, he was rumored to be debating between Labor and Yair Lapid’s Yesh
Two days before Shmuly entered politics, the NUIS announced a new
campaign to encourage students to vote.
The student group emphasized that
their campaign will be objective, will not mention specific parties and will
include use of student unions’ websites as well as on-campus
“Students, as young people who want to influence tomorrow’s
realities must participate in the democratic process and exercise their right to
vote, whatever that vote may be,” Shmuly said on Monday. “We plan to
dramatically raise the rate of students who vote through many various and
There are 300,000 students in Israel. If they all
voted they would account for approximately 11 seats in the Knesset.
the years 2001-2009, about 65.3 percent of students voted, with groups such as
young, secular students or Arab students voting at lower rates than the
When asked on Wednesday if he saw a problem with launching a
NUIS campaign before his resignation that could help his nascent political
career, Shmuly answered The Jerusalem Post in the negative.
a decision made by one person. The NUIS budget hasn’t been approved yet, so the
details of the campaign haven’t been decided yet,” he explained. “Plus, it
encourages students to participate and vote for any party.”
there is no conflict of interest in encouraging students to vote shortly before
he began his run for Labor’s list, because he made the final decision to join
politics on Tuesday.
NUIS spokesman Eyal Basson said Shmuly resigned from
the student group and will not have any connection to the enfranchisement
The student leader cited Labor’s “strong ideological basis and
tradition” together with Yacimovich’s “young spirit and winds of change” as the
reason for joining the party, and signed a Labor membership form in front of the
cameras at the press conference.
“I had the privilege of becoming one of
the leaders of the largest protest movement Israel has ever known. I was given
the nickname the ‘responsible adult’ at the protests, and I think I deserved the
title, because I really put faith in [Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s]
government – but he disappointed us,” Shmuly stated. “What started on the
streets must end in the voting booth.”
The former student leader denied
considering joining Yesh Atid or Likud, saying he received calls and requests
and “didn’t hang up on people,” but that Labor was the only
Yacimovich pointed out that Shmuly chose a challenging path
by joining a party with a primary.
“There is no doubt that I want Itzik
to be on the list, and in a high spot; the fact that I’m here with him now shows
that,” she said, “but Labor is a democratic party. The members will decide who
they want to represent them in the Knesset.”
Labor’s primary is likely to
be on November 27. The party’s central committee will decide the date at the end
The party leader said Shmuly exemplifies the Labor’s
ideological agenda of “putting the citizen first.”
“I asked him to join
Labor a long time ago, but he wasn’t ready yet. He’s gone through a lot since
then, and has chosen to go from demonstrating to acting,” Yacimovich
Earlier this week, social protest leader Stav Shaffir announced
that she is running for the Labor list. Shaffir congratulated Shmuly for joining
the party, saying it is the natural place to bring a change in Israel’s
Also on Wednesday, venture capitalist and former
Labor leadership candidate Erel Margalit announced he would run for the party’s
list for the Knesset.
Later Wednesday, journalist Miki Rosenthal
officially announced that he is running for Labor’s Knesset list. On Tuesday
night, he hinted heavily that he was entering politics, saying on his Channel 10
show The Source that his life is about to change drastically, and asking
political reporter Raviv Druker if he should commission a poll.