MK Isaac Herzog 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The Labor party has played a crucial role in establishing the State of Israel
and in shaping, for decades, its society and policies.
Elections for the
leadership of this party, due to take place later this week, are important far
beyond the personalities of the competing leaders – their result may change the
political map of the country and have an impact on all future government
Competing for the leadership are two representatives of the
younger generation whose worldviews and personalities are very
Shelly Yacimovich is a former journalist who made her debut in
politics some eight years ago and is the current leader of Labor. Isaac (Buji)
Herzog, a lawyer by profession, comes from a family with a rich tradition of
service to the country. Herzog’s late grandfather was chief rabbi of Palestine
and his late father was ambassador to the UN and later president of
Herzog started his career as government secretary in 1999 and has
had an active and brilliant political career ever since.
sharing a common platform in the Labor party, their views could not be more
diametrically opposed. Yacimovich describes herself as a social democrat (even
though some take issue with this definition). Herzog’s social and economic views
may be defined as “constructive socialism” – a term coined many years ago by one
of the founding fathers of Labor, Berl Katznelson, meaning a brand of socialism
that cares for the working class while simultaneously building the nation, its
economy and its institutions.
Hers is a reduced, lacking brand of
socialism far removed from the Nordic model: no welfare services for the whole
society, no safety net, no flexibility of the job market, no reform of the
social services, rather a preference for organized labor, mainly the strong
workers’ committees. Those views have alienated leading businesses from the
Herzog fully understands the connection between the personal and
the national, between social welfare, economic growth and flexible
He fully understands the connection between economy and
During her term of duty as head of the party, Yacimovich has shied
away from any debate, any reference to foreign affairs, security or the peace
process with the Palestinians – issues she simply does not care
Leading a one-dimentional policy based on Israel’s economy, she
not only brought about the departure of many from the Labor party, losing at
least three mandates in the last elections; her political autism actually cast
serious doubt on her capacity to become the prime minister of Israel.
even though she has been an active, eloquent opponent of the government,
Yacimovich has never presented a coherent, complete and relevant plan that could
be considered a serious alternative to its policies. At most, these have been
good speeches with little substance and unrelated, haphazard ideas.
comparison, Herzog brings with him a coherent plan, both in the economic and
political spheres, which he has fostered with the help and advice of qualified
professionals in all disciplines.
His record as an actor on the political
scene, as a “doer,” is impressive.
His achievements in his various
ministerial posts are well known.
Should he be elected chairman, he will
bring back numerous voters to the party.
His will be a voice of
moderation and sanity. He will generate hope. Moreover, under his leadership,
Labor will come up with new ideas, new initiatives – allowing the public a real
The “face” Labor will present to the public during the next
elections is important not only for that party, it is carries weight for Israeli
democracy and for the future of the country. Its success will depend on the
capacity of that old and respected party to present a real alternative to the
actual ruling coalition by shaping a coherent, comprehensive policy
It will depend on the quality of its leadership.
Herzog can deliver both.
Colette Avital is a former diplomat and Labor
party member of Knesset.