(photo credit: Courtesy)
Former prime minister Ariel Sharon’s son Gilad will not be the only political prince running for Knesset for the first time in the next general election.
Gil Beilin, the 44-year-old son of former justice minister Yossi Beilin, will also be entering the fray and running for a place on the Labor Party’s list for the next Knesset, after a career in advertising and communications.
The younger Beilin’s candidacy came to light this week when he criticized his father for his live television attack on the late former defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer the day he died.
Their dispute over when it is proper to criticize a deceased politician is not the only difference of opinion among the Beilins. Gil is not as left-wing as Yossi, who remains in Meretz, the party he once headed.
“I am a man of the Center, not a leftist, which has become a bad word,” he said. “I am not Meretz. I live and breathe Labor. I never liked Meretz, which chooses to be more of a fighting opposition than an influential opposition.”
Asked why he is vying for a seat with a party polls predict may not achieve double digits in mandates, Beilin recalled his upbringing in Labor when his father was one of its young leaders who were expected to eventually lead the country.
“If I went by the polls, I would connect today to [Yesh Atid leader Yair] Lapid, make a deal, and enter the next Knesset,” he said. “But I grew up in Labor, walking in the halls in the footsteps of great leaders like [former prime ministers Yitzhak] Rabin and [Shimon] Peres. It’s like a sports team that falls from contention but you will always be loyal to because it is in your heart.”
Beilin has not been active in politics for 20 years, but before that, he headed the Labor Youth organization, was among the leaders of the party’s Young Guard and was part of the student leadership at Tel Aviv University. He became jaded after he lost personal interest in politics after Peres surprised him by losing to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996. But last year’s election made him realize he has to come back.
“I thought we were winning and we lost, just like in 1996,” he said. “But it had the opposite effect. It made me feel that if I care about the state, I should stop my career and go do the hard work of politics.” Beilin’s agenda in politics will be to fight traffic accidents. As a race car driver in his spare time, he believes it is important to educate children from age 10 by having them drive model cars.
He currently supports Labor chairman Isaac Herzog keeping his job, but if the likes of former IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi join the party, that could make him reconsider his decision.
When asked if he supports joining Netanyahu’s government, he said: “It depends what we get,” adding that if it could lead to a peace agreement, of course it would be worthwhile.
Told he started sounding like his father, he is completely unapologetic. He said he would not change his name, even though it may scare away some centrist voters.
“I do go in the path of my father, and I very much appreciate him,” he said. “The name ‘Beilin’ has advantages and disadvantages, especially in political campaigns. He is known as a man who is trustworthy and sacrificed a lot. Politicians who do things just because people tell them they want them tend to be less successful. You have to go with what you believe in.”