Stars, young guns to face off in Kadima primary

The battle between well-known public figures and younger party activists will continue next Wednesday.

Bielski 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Bielski 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The battle between well-known public figures and younger party activists that took place in Monday's Likud primary will continue in Kadima next Wednesday when more than 80,000 members choose the party's list. Likud members chose World Likud chairman Danny Danon over former-Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball star Tal Brody despite the latter being a household name. They also preferred 30-year-old attorney Tzipi Hotovely to former IDF spokeswoman Miri Regev, and 36-year-old consultant Keren Barak to cosmetics queen Pnina Rosenblum. The same could potentially happen in Kadima, which has never selected its Knesset list in a primary before. Kadima Leader Tzipi Livni did not bring in celebrities at the pace of Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, but she did draft Jewish Agency chairman Ze'ev Bielski, United Jewish Communities Israel director-general Nachman Shai and international businesswoman and television personality Galia Albin. But such well-known names could lose out to young Kadima activists who are less known outside the party, such as Livni's campaign manager in her race for Kadima leader, Moshe Konforty; his counterpart in Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz's campaign, Yuval Zellner; and the moshav movement's Nehemia Reybee. Konforty, 36, is the founding CEO of Derech Haim, a company that educates Israelis about road safety. He said he hoped there would be enough room on the Kadima list for up and coming leaders like him as well as newcomers that are more well-known among the general public. "I hope Kadima voters choose Bielski even if it means I would move down on the list because he brings such respect to the party," Konforty said. "I have been making a name for myself, but we have to choose people the general public respects. We don't need stars, we need proven leaders." Konforty is best known as the first Kadima activist who called upon Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to quit after the Second Lebanon War. He hosted a rally promoting his candidacy last Thursday that was attended by Livni and many other Kadima leaders. Zellner, 30, is a Tel Aviv attorney and political strategist who is pursuing a doctorate at Tel Aviv University while spending most of his time on the campaign trail. Reached on his way back from a meeting with Druse leader Sheikh Muwaffek Tarif, Zellner said he was optimistic that Kadima members would choose him. "I am the leading candidate among the six or seven young people running in Kadima," Zellner said. "There is no reserved slot in Kadima for young people like there is in the Likud, but Kadima members understand the need to have young Knesset candidates, because our party will be fighting for young, undecided voters." Other young candidates with a good chance of getting elected are Ophir Miller, 34, who chairs Kadima's forum of reserve soldiers, and Avi Viderman, an adviser to Olmert. Reybee is a farmer who is being promoted in Kadima's moshavim and kibbutzim sector by MKs Shai Hermesh and Elin Aflalo, who have large camps in the party. Another unknown who could enter the Knesset in Kadima is Druse activist Ahram Hason, who is challenging deputy foreign minister Majallie Whbee for a slot reserved for a non-Jew. While most of Kadima's current MKs are expected to get reelected, the party's decision to ask members to vote for 18-22 candidates should help newcomers.