Likud mourns painful party loss

55 workers were fired in the last week following the party's dramatic drop.

likud 88 (photo credit: )
likud 88
(photo credit: )
The loss of his job at Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv is harming his finances but not his faith in the party, said Eli Cornfeld, who has been a Likud member for 30 years. After five years of maintenance work in the party's headquarters, he was among 40 of the 55 workers who were fired in the last week following the Likud's dramatic drop in the nation wide elections from 40 to 12 mandates. "It's a difficult situation for everyone in the party," Cornfeld told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday as he sat on a chair in a small hallway on the upstairs floor of the building waiting to speak with the accounting office. Party spokesman Ronen Moshe said the layoffs were necessary because a party of 12 does not have the same needs or the same resources as a party of 40. Not everyone was so calm. One woman who had just been fired yelled out to anyone who could hear her in the hall, "is this a way to treat people." She spat and kicked the bottom railing of the staircase. Others were calmer. Sitting in her office still working, one woman who did not want to be named, said she had taken a leave from her job with a non-profit organization to help Likud during the elections. She had hoped it would turn into something more permanent after the elections but once the party did so poorly, she knew there was no chance. "These are hard days, you feel it in the building," she said, resting her face on her hand and blowing a puff of smoke in the air. A second woman with a secure position said they have cried over each departure. "Everyone knows each other here, it's like a family," she said. The building, which the Likud historically has had offices scattered throughout its 14 floors, has always creaked with age. The elevators are slow and at times do not work at all. The windows need cleaning, the carpets are stained and the walls need a fresh coat of paint. On Tuesday, one week after the election, a heaviness hovered in the dusty air. "It hurts, it hurts," muttered one activist named Moshe, as he leaned back on a chair in the hallway with his hands behind his head. "We got to the top, we organized the nation and then it all fell apart," he said. One activist named Racheli City who spends so much time in the Likud offices that she feels as if it's her home, said that it has been hard to watch people go home. "It's politics. Everyone that works here knows that one day you are on the top and the next day you are on the bottom," she said. City added that she believes the nation punished the party for not being sensitive enough to the economic distress people felt as the result of the budget cuts. Most everyone else interviewed believed that the Likud party leader Binyamin Netanyahu had saved the country with his economic policies and was now paying the price for taking necessary but painful steps. They accused the media of waging a campaign against him. They also attacked MK Silvan Shalom for working against Netanyahu. Most said they knew the party would not reach the heights of 40 as it had in the last elections, but few said they had expected to drop so far down. Everyone said they believed both in Netanyahu as a leader and in the party's ability to recover from the loss. The new government lost, predicted a Likud branch head, Izo Himovich. "Within a year-and-a-half, we'll head the government again," he said.