'There's nothing stronger than an idea whose time has come'

Sneh calls for new direction in government with Israel Hazaka.

sneh pointing 88 (photo credit:)
sneh pointing 88
(photo credit: )
Seeking a change in the government's priorities, former Labor MK Efraim Sneh called for attention to be paid to the country's social as well as political problems at the founding event of his new party, Israel Hazaka, on Monday. Speaking to a crowd of between 150-200 supporters at the "Beautiful Israel" Pavilion in Tel Aviv, Sneh said that Israel's citizens and leaders had to work together to close the country's social gap and give the entire population an opportunity to succeed. "Our goal is to create a new political force that is based on a strong and just Israel," Sneh said. Sneh broke with the Labor Party six weeks ago after serving as one of its MKs for the past 16 years, including terms as both health and deputy defense minister. Sneh offered only implicit criticism of Labor chairman Ehud Barak in his speech but, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post before the event, he said that Barak had failed to establish an effective counterweight to the government of Ehud Olmert. "I don't think he has presented opposition," Sneh said. "He's in Olmert's government. He isn't pushing the peace process or manifesting an active role in it. It's Labor's job to catalyze that process, and now we will do that actively." "I remember Labor when Rabin was the leader," he said. "One of the things I remember is that when the society was in crisis, the party consolidated and decided what to do, how to protect people, how to work with the world. There was a feeling that we were responsible. That feeling doesn't exist in today's government." Although he emphasized his concern with Israel's domestic challenges, Sneh said that the country's most pressing security issue was the threat of a nuclear Iran. "The new Persian empire and Islamic fascism possess a great strength that is threatening us," said. "We need to present an answer to this, to be strong externally and just internally." While he has yet to formulate an official list of Israel Hazaka's Knesset candidates, Sneh has attracted several politicians to his cause, including Prof. Michael Bar-Zohar and former Shinui MK Ariela Golan. However, Sneh said that he hopes to make ordinary citizens the base of his party. In outlining the issues that he hoped Israel Hazaka will address, Sneh said he sensed political cynicism in the public and hoped to change that mind-set.