Rivals gang up on Yacimovich at Labor convention

Emotions flare at Labor Party convention; MKs attempt to dissuade Yacimovich from passing controversial procedural changes.

Shelly Yacimovich at Labor Central Committee 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Shelly Yacimovich at Labor Central Committee 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich overcame serious challenges at a stormy Labor Party convention in Tel Aviv Thursday night that deteriorated into slurs and almost degenerated into physical violence.
Emotions boiled over at the event when Danny Zamir, an activist loyal to Yacimovich, called the crowd “arsim,” a derogatory Hebrew slang term for the Israeli stereotype of low-class young men that often carries ethnic connotations.
A burly man went on stage to try to attack Zamir but Labor officials restrained him. Party secretary-general MK Hilik Bar stopped Zamir’s speech and called himself a proud arse. Yacimovich later defended Zamir personally but apologized for his language.
MKs Eitan Cabel, Erel Margalit, Isaac Herzog, and Histadrut labor federation chief Ofer Eini all ganged up on Yacimovich at the event.
They tried unsuccessfully to prevent her from passing a series of procedural changes that they warned would make the party less democratic.
“I would have thought the first convention after the election would deal with why Labor lost the election,” Margalit said.
“Any organization that failed its mission that I have seen forms an objective committee to investigate the failure. Miss Chairwoman, what are you afraid of?”
Margalit said Labor lost the election because it became a niche party and did not speak clearly enough on diplomatic issues. He warned against Yacimovich’s socioeconomic policies and her methods of running the party.
“If Labor continues its extremist socialist economic policies, it will be a party smaller than Meretz,” Margalit said. “We are not [Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor] Liberman! We are not [Yesh Atid chairman Yair] Lapid! We are a democratic party and that means our activists will not be a rubber stamp!”
Cabel complained that Yacimovich’s loyalists had threatened him and cursed him on his Facebook page. He accused her of showing him the door from the party like she did to his former political ally Amir Peretz.
“I have fought for this party and I won’t be thrown out of it,” Cabel said. “I was here before you and I will be here after. No one can silence me. [Former Labor leader] Ehud Barak didn’t succeed in silencing me and you won’t either.”
Herzog and Eini accused Yacimovich of dividing the party by insisting on voting on controversial issues rather than holding a day-long debate.
Yacimovich responded by accusing her critics of wanting to join the coalition and continue what she called the party’s “genetic defect” of joining every government. She vowed to run the party much more democratically than her predecessors.
“We will be a democratic pillar of defense,” she said, referring to the IDF operation in Gaza last year by that name.
“I am not afraid of democracy. We have never been so democratic. But real power doesn’t come from procedure. It comes from an ideological path.”
Yacimovich ended up succeeding in passing all her proposals by a wide margin.
Labor will soon hold a day-long ideological forum on the party’s diplomatic- security platform. The convention appointed a committee of party members to plan the event and start working on the platform.
After the event, Cabel said Yacimovich “won, but this was her swan song. This was the beginning of the end of her reign in Labor.”