'Proud Leftist' Hoping to Head Israel's Labor Shares Campaign Adviser With Far-right Leader

On the line with Labor Knesset Member Erel Margalit

Knesset Member Erel Margalit.
Moti Milrod

Hello to MK Erel Margalit. Nir Gontarz from Haaretz here. What’s doing?

Fine.

Listen, I saw your impressive clip “Proud Leftist,” and I wanted to check a few things with you, if that’s okay.

Yes.

The activity of the Breaking the Silence NGO – do you stand behind it?

I stood behind the incitement against the people of Breaking the Silence

You stood behind the incitement?

I took a stand against the incitement that was leveled at the Breaking the Silence folks, who were called traitors. I took a stand against the incitement [that was leveled] against the executive director of [the human rights group] B’Tselem.

Terrific. I’m not asking if you’re against incitement. I’m asking if you support their activity. Do you see yourself as part of them?

I said in the Knesset that it’s necessary to defend their right to be critical of the state.

Terrific. I’m not asking about their right to express themselves. That’s self-evident. I’m asking about their activity as such. Do you see yourself as part of them?

I personally do not. I am not part of Breaking the Silence and I am not part of B’Tselem, but I defended their right to express their opinions clearly.

In the last operation in the Gaza Strip [in 2014], hundreds of children and hundreds of “non-involved civilians” – as innocent Arabs are called – were killed. I didn’t hear you calling for a stop to that in real time.

I. Think. That. Israel. Has to defend itself

So do I. But I asked about the innocent dead.

The moment missiles are fired at Israel – I was on the [Knesset’s] Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and I thought Israel had to go into defensive mode.

Ah?

The war was managed badly. There was no clear political goal. There was no clear military goal.

Yes. I read the main points of the state comptroller’s report, but I’m asking about the hundreds of dead civilians. Maybe you’ll respond to that?

I think the operation should have been concluded with more determination and more decisively. My friends from Golani [infantry brigade] who were 1,000 meters from Shujaiyeh wanted to do the job faster and a lot more decisively.

Wow. I’m asking about all the innocent Gazans who died.

I am sorry about every child who was killed and about every innocent person who was killed, and I differentiate between the population and Hamas, which should be eradicated. A hand should be extended to the population, and they should be given water and electricity and the possibility to live.

Yes?

We need to fight Hamas and set limits on them.

You won’t succeed in eradicating them. How about talking to them? They’re the sovereign in the Gaza Strip. No?

Just a second, I’m just getting ready for a sensitive meeting tomorrow. I have a whole roomful of people here, and uh uh Let’s be quick.

What about negotiations with Hamas?

We need to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority and give it the power. To give the Egyptians the power. To give Qatar the power, and everyone who pays their [the Palestinians’] salaries, and I think that the PA is a partner that has to be given power in the West Bank, too, and also given the possibility to take action in Gaza in order to moderate [the situation] and take command. As it happens, the chancellor of Austria is coming to me tomorrow, for a policy visit.

He’s coming especially to you?

Yes. To me. And [it will be] an economic visit, and there will also be senior Palestinian figures there who want to be part of the cooperation. But do me a favor and don’t publish that.

I publish everything.

But, but It’s happening tomorrow and we committed not to make it public until tomorrow.

You can relax. The column isn’t published until the weekend.

Ah, that’s fine. After the meeting with [Palestinian political figure Jibril] Rajoub, we are now recruiting leaders from countries around the world to lead economic and political cooperation. Tell me, Gontarz, are you left-wing?

Yes.

Great. So, the left-wingers are coming back. Are you willing to have your picture taken with me in I have a kind of flier that has [images of] Rabin and Golda and Ben-Gurion and Peres. Are you ready to have your picture taken and be part of that?

No.

Why not? Don’t be ashamed of it, Gontarz. Don’t be ashamed of being left-wing. You’re left-wing – talk about it. You have huge influence, every week. Say that you are part of the left-wing camp. Let us use a creative person like you in order to convey a great message to the people of Israel.

It’s not going to happen. I don’t take part in political campaigns. As a left-winger, you undoubtedly support a construction freeze in all the settlements, yes?

I’m in favor of freezing the new settlements.

What does that mean?

Israel needs to take part in an arrangement with the settlement blocs, with clear security arrangements.

The adviser who’s telling you that the correct thing for you to do is move leftward is the same Moshe Klughaft, who at the same time is advising [Habayit Hayehudi leader and Education Minister] Naftali Bennett to move rightward, correct?

Do me a favor and deal with me and not with my advisers.

But he’s the adviser who’s shifting you leftward, correct?

I don’t talk about advisers. I talk about the campaign. Address the campaign.

The person who’s running your campaign is the person who’s concurrently responsible for Bennett’s campaign, right?

I had two options with the campaign. One, I can work with receipts

Is he your campaigner or not?

We Klughaft is part of my campaign group.

Thank God. Don’t you find it odd that while he’s advising you to move leftward, he’s guiding Bennett at the same time?

Gontarz, you know something? I have a team that is here to work

In short, that’s of no interest to you.

“The leftists are coming back” is going to be the slogan of a large camp in the general election, in which we will defeat the right.

And that’s with the aid of the senior adviser of the right. Fantastic.

I collect the best people.

Doesn’t it bother you that in exchange for money, there’s a person here who’s pulling you leftward and the right rightward?

It doesn’t bother me to have people in my campaign who also advise Naftali Bennett.

Thanks, go back to your meeting.

Remember: “The leftists are coming back” will be the message of the national campaign in which we will defeat the right.

Good luck. Bye.