Labor-Hatnua defends its Zionist cred from Likud, Bayit Yehudi attacks

Shaffir Knesset speech on Zionism goes viral; "You forgot about the Negev and Galilee to transfer NIS 1.2b. to settlements," she says of Bayit Yehudi.

By
January 22, 2015 17:42
Tzipi Livni Isaac Herzog

Tzipi Livni speaks with Labor head Isaac Herzog in the Knesset. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

 
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Labor-Hatnua's Hebrew name may translate to "Zionist Camp," but the Likud and Bayit Yehudi's campaigns and leaders have questioned the appropriateness of that name since the party elected its list two weeks ago.

On Thursday, Walla! News revealed that Zuheir Bahloul, the only Arab candidate in a realistic spot on Labor's list, was a character witness for an Israeli Arab convicted of being in contact with Hezbollah in 2013.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video posted to his Facebook wall: "This is additional proof of the anti-Zionist character of the left-wing list led by Tzipi [Livni] and Buji [Isaac Herzog].

"When a potential MK on this list is a character witness for Hezbollah, what can we add to that?" Netanyahu asked. "The choice here is clear – an anti-Zionist list led by Tzipi and Buji, or the Likud list led by me. That is the real choice."

Bahloul told Walla! that his character witness was for the family and not "their rebellious son," adding that he knows the family well and it is for coexistence with Jews. He also said he opposes the son's actions and he is fighting attempts to incite between Jews and Arabs.

Bayit Yehudi candidate Ronen Shoval submitted a complaint to the Central Election Committee Thursday, which states that Labor-Hatnua's Hebrew name, "Zionist Camp," is misleading.

Shoval's complaint came after Bayit Yehudi released images of people on the Labor list with quotes that they found questionable, without context, and he used the quotes in his complaint. Likud MKs have also used them to attack the other party.



For example, they quote Bahloul as saying "our Palestinian identity is stronger than the Israeli one." MK Stav Shaffir's quote is taken from a book on the 2011 social protests, of which she was a leader, which said she called Hatikvah a racist song. MK Merav Michaeli once said in an Army Radio interview that mothers should not send their sons to the army as long as the "occupation" continues. Bayit Yehudi used several qotes for candidate Yossi Yona, including "I don't connect to this word, Zionism. It doesn't express who I am" and "Yom Hashoa and Nakba Day should be on the same day."

Shoval wrote to the committee that "it is clear that it would be defrauding voters for them to run with the word 'Zionist' in their party name, and that is unacceptable. Just as [Balad MK] Haneen Zoabi would not run in a list called 'Supporting IDF Soldiers,' and that would be immediately rejected, thus Buji, Tzipi [Livni], Michaeli, Yona Shafir, etc should be treated.

"The truth must be told to the public and the truth will decide. That is how it is in democracy, even if it is unpleasant for the left," he added.

Livni said that the claim that Labor-Hatnua is anti-Zionist angers her, and that Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett "threw out the Independence Scroll and any talk of equality. They want a country that doesn't recognize the values on which Israel was built. We are fighting for all Zionists."

On Wednesday, Shaffir gave a speech in the Knesset, responding to accusations Bennett made in the plenum of her not being a Zionist, which since went viral on social media.

"My friends in the Right, I can see the fear in your eyes…You are afraid because in the past two years we revealed your corruption. You took the Israeli public's tax money, that they worked so  hard for, and you sent it to your friends…The Bayit Yehudi that pretends its more Zionist than Ben-Gurion took public money and instead of sending them to collapsing factories in the periphery…instead of building more classrooms, instead of building excellent public transportation, you took our money and gave it out as a gift to your friends…in the Yesha Council," she said.

According to Shaffir, Zionism is dividing the budget equally between all citizens, taking care of the weak, solidarity in everyday life, not just in battle.

"That is Zionism, and you are taking it and destroying it," she said, passionately gesticulating. "You forgot about the Negev and Galilee to transfer NIS 1.2b. to settlements."

As for allegations of her opposition to singing Hatikvah, Shaffir did not address whether or not she thought the song was racist, but she said that she "follows the instruction of the anthem [whose title means] hope" and deals in "politics that has a future, that looks forward and wants to make life here better and safer, wants to make peace."

"If Netanyahu wrote our anthem, we would have to call it 'despair,'" she added.

Earlier Wednesday, Labor-Hatnua released a video in which people on their list answered the question: What is Zionism?

"Zionism is not just talking about how my parents fought to establish the state, but to fight on the future of the country we're leaving to our children," Livni stated.

"Giving young people a chance to succeed in the Negev, in the Galilee," MK Erel Margalit said.

According to MK Amir Peretz, "Zionism is independence, and independence is being able to make a living and grow old in a dignified way."

For MK Eitan Cabel, Zionism is serving the country via reserve duty.

The only candidate to mention anything Jewish in the video was Michaeli, who said: "For me, Zionism is what is written in our Independence Scroll, the natural right of the Jewish People to be like every other nation, standing on its own with a sovereign state."

Soon after, Likud came out with a parody video, which silenced the Labor-Hatnua candidates and put subtitles featuring the aforementioned quotes and other statements meant to show that the party is not Zionist. The question in the beginning is "what is cynicism" instead  of "what is Zionism."

"I say I am Zionist, even though I oppose defining Israel as a Jewish state," Livni's subtitle reads.

Margalit's says: "I am here instead of Bahloul and Yonah."

Cabel's subtitle referred to his bill that would have shuttered Yisrael Hayom: "To me, Zionism is closing a newspaper."

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