Labor leader to 'Post': Being left-wing is not a stain

Gabbay responded to remarks made by Labor MK Nachman Shai, who said last week in an interview last week that being a leftist is a stain that should be erased

Avi Gabbay speaks at the Labor faction meeting at the Knesset (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Avi Gabbay speaks at the Labor faction meeting at the Knesset
Labor leader Avi Gabbay distanced himself Monday from efforts by MKs in his party to move away from the Left toward the Center of the political map.
Gabbay criticized both MK Nachman Shai, who has said he did not want to be stained by being called a leftist, and Eitan Cabel, who unveiled a plan to apply Israeli law to West Bank settlement blocs while freezing construction beyond the blocs.
Asked by The Jerusalem Post at Monday’s Zionist Union faction meeting if he is a “proud leftist,” as his competition in last year’s Labor leadership race Amir Peretz declared himself during the campaign, Gabbay praised the Israeli Left for building the state and said “being leftwing is a worldview and a path, not a stain.”
At the meeting, Gabbay accused Cabel of adopting a plan promoted by Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett and the most right-wing MK in Bayit Yehudi, Bezalel Smotrich.
“The ideas of annexation that come from the ideology of Bennett and Smotrich are dangerous and irresponsible,” Gabbay said. “They are ideas that can destroy the vision of Zionism.”
Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni initially told the faction she would not address particular plans. But then she lumped annexation together with discrimination and apartheid as unacceptable options for solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Reacting to Shai, Livni said: “It doesn’t matter if we are called Left, Right or Center.”
Cabel and Shai also faced criticism from Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg, who called upon relative doves in Labor to join her party.
“They think avoiding the stain of the Left will work, but only the Left’s views are real,” she said. “Labor is wrong to flee from ideology.”
Cabel told the Post on Monday evening that he could handle the criticism and that the messages of support he has received outnumbered the critics, 100 to one.