(photo credit: LAHAV HARKOV)
MK Shelly Yacimovich’s campaign headquarters was buzzing with volunteers on Wednesday afternoon, as the Labor leadership candidate called on party members to “get out of the house and vote.”
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Long tables filled with telephones and lists of names lined a hall in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Center usually filled with booths selling clothing made by design students or international-themed food.
About 100 activists, mostly in their twenties and thirties, called Labor member after Labor member all day long, in an attempt to convince voters to choose Yacimovich over MK Amir Peretz (Labor) in the party primary run-off.
The volunteers were given a script for phone calls - “Hello, Yitzhak? My
name is Nir, I’m volunteering at Shelly Yacimovich’s headquarters, and I
want to remind you that today is the second round of votes for the
Labor Party leadership. Will you vote for Shelly Yacimovich today?”
Voter participation seemed to be the issue that most concerned Yacimovich and her staff on Wednesday afternoon.
“I heard there’s a rise in the percentage of voters,” she told cameramen
at a photo-op in the afternoon, “but we are not satisfied. The
percentage isn’t bad, but it isn’t high enough.”
“Come to the voting booth. Sympathizing with the cause is not enough,”
the Labor leadership candidate explained. “You have to get out of the
Looking a bit more polished than usual – her lips were glossier and hair
straighter – Yacimovich smiled to the cameras and put her arms around
two female volunteers. “Should I act interested?” she asked a
photographer, grabbing a nearby telephone.
“Ahalan, it’s Shelly,” Yacimovich greeted a potential voter. “Thanks,
Mazal. Don’t forget to bring your family to the voting booth.”
“The situation in the kibbutzes is not good,” a volunteer coordinator
announced shortly before Yacimovich came out of her office. “Get the
kibbutzniks out of their houses, their dairy farms, wherever. Just get
them to vote.”
“A lot of people are into Shelly; we don’t have to convince them too
much,” volunteer Omer Samani said. “They want to see real leadership for
the Labor Party.”
The volunteers’ script had an answer on almost any issue in Israel
today: No, Shelly does not work for the Likud. No, Shelly does not
support settlements. Shelly thinks social matters take priority over
diplomacy. Shelly has the support of the tent protesters. Just because
Peretz has more experience than Shelly, doesn’t make him better.
“The main point is that Shelly is really the party’s greatest hope for
the party to return to what it used to be – not just concerned about
diplomacy, but a socioeconomic party,” Samani explained. “This summer’s
protests really strengthened that point.”
Yacimovich did not seem so sure about the message herself. The Labor
leadership candidate did not plan to talk to reporters following the
photo-op, and agreed to answer only one question from The Jerusalem Post
: “What is the first thing you’ll do if you win?”
“I don’t know, I haven’t thought about it yet,” Yacimovich answered, then ducked into her office.