Labor leader Avi Gabbay speaks at a meeting of the Zionist Camp.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Labor leader Avi Gabbay reaffirmed his commitment to "Jewish values" Thursday during an interview on Channel 2 News, accusing some on the left of prioritizing "liberal values" instead.
"There are some people who prefer to show a more liberal face," he said. "I believe, as Israel, we need to show our Jewish face."
Gabbay came under fire last Monday for telling party activists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba that "the Left forgot what it means to be Jewish
Recalling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's whispering the same statement in the ear of the late Sephardi kabbalist Rabbi Yitzhak Kadourie in October 1997, and being caught on camera, Gabbay agreed with the prime minister.
After the Channel 2 News interviewer pressed him on the subject, Gabbay expressed some regret for his word choice, and for repeating Netanyahu's statement.
Nevertheless, Gabbay said his supporters were "happy" with his conduct.
"I believe the basis for liberal values is Judaism," he said.
When asked about Netanyahu's strategy for containing Iran's influence in the region, Gabbay suggested a different approach — less noise, more results.
"I don't agree with [the strategy of mixing] politics and security," he said. "Take pride in results, not meetings with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin."
Iran has been mounting a military presence throughout Iraq and Syria as Islamic State forces have been retreating throughout the region, and the BBC reported last Saturday that Iran began constructing another new military base in Syria.
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On slammed Gabbay on Twitter last week, accusing Gabbay himself for forgetting what it means to be Jewish.
"There is no contradiction between Judaism and liberal values, and not every Jew is willing to bow to the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) or religious Zionist versions of Judaism," Gal-On wrote on Twitter. "The Left that founded [Gabbay's] party once knew that."
Meretz MK Michal Rozin said Left knew better than Orthodox Jews what it means to be Jewish because "the Left is inclusive of all religious streams and anyone who chooses to be a part of the Jewish community according to their path and beliefs."Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.