The students in the audience at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya were beside themselves with embarrassment. There they were in the presence of five respected figures, who sat on stage debating the subject of executive salaries. After the panelists finished speaking, the moderator, Prof. Uriel Procaccia, invited Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich to take the stage.
But Yachimovich had a surprise. She said she would only agree to come on stage after the panel members left it. The five panelists were stunned. Why embarrass them publicly? Procaccia cleared his throat and asked if she was serious. She said she was.
Attorney Ram Caspi then declared that he was not ready to get down, but Yachimovich continued to demand an empty stage. Caspi finally relented, but said he was also leaving the room entirely. Who does she think she is, he asked, the Queen of England? He in fact did leave, as did Procaccia. Only then, after the stage was cleared, was the Queen of England so kind as to take the podium and deliver her remarks to her student subjects.
Where does this haughtiness, this arrogance, this chutzpah come from? Is this how a woman who sees herself as someone who does good should act? Does socialism necessarily mean hating others?
What happened at the IDC did not surprise Yachimovich's Labor Party colleagues. At the Knesset, she conducts herself like a lone wolf seeking her prey - and her prey is anyone, particularly her party colleagues.
Ask Avishay Braverman. Ask Amir Peretz, whom she publicly betrayed after he brought her into the Knesset. Then she moved on to Ehud Barak, whom she also betrayed, after which she began ingratiating herself to Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini, whose strength has been on the rise. And I don't envy Eini for a moment once he leaves for the private sector.
Yachimovich has no real comrades in her party. Everyone is afraid she will devour them, too. She does not respect party discipline, has not voted with the coalition and conducts herself like a fireball that scorches everything it touches. Can such a woman take the helm of the Labor Party, which so greatly needs to heal and come together?
But personal attributes, for all their importance, are not the main point of the story. Her policy positions are a problem, too. They are not consistent with a party that wishes to take the reins of government. Yachimovich only handles issues in the socioeconomic sector. And in this field, she has adopted populist positions that the public loves.
There is no problem passing laws that give more to various population groups. It's easy. It's popular. Everyone will vote in favor. It's also not an issue to come out, in a sweeping manner, against all those horrible multimillionaires. The public loves that, too.
On the tough issues, however, Yachimovich has not said a word over the course of her five years in the Knesset. She has never stated her opinion on the negotiations with the Palestinians, the settlements, the siege of the Gaza Strip, the Turkish flotilla, the Iranian nuclear threat, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's loyalty legislation or relations with the United States. None of these important topics exist for Yachimovich - because on these issues, the people are divided. On these issues, there is a right wing and a left wing.
An opportunist who wants everyone to love her (other than a few wealthy people whose power at the polls is insignificant ), prefers not to express any positions on controversial issues. And anyone who conducts oneself with such cowardice is not fit to take the helm of a party wishing to govern.
Yachimovich has certain sacred cows that she takes care to feed: the large workers' committees, from the Israel Electric Corporation to the Ports Authority. Even though they enjoy the highest salaries in the labor force, she always supports their demands for additional raises. As a result, taxes have to be raised and budgets increased, further greasing the already fat public monopolies; battles have to be waged in the private sector, and against any privatization or reform proposal, because privatization is bad and nationalization is good.
Yachimovich is essentially a neo-Marxist. If she manages to head the Labor faction, she will turn it into a tiny, contentious niche party, smaller than Meretz. The students at the IDC have already seen who they are doing business with.
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