It's been a long time since one of my op-eds received as many responses as "Behold, the latest Queen of England" (Haaretz, January 25 ). I evidently struck several nerves by stating some things that many people are well aware of but reluctant to say.
Knesset members called to add details. So did ordinary citizens who have been burned. All had unpretty stories about her behavior. MKs related that she doesn't even say hello to them, nor will she eat with them. "She scorns us all, thinks she's above us, that next to her we are nothing," was the gist of their comments.
It is important to address the character of MK Shelly Yachimovich, because she thinks she is fit to lead the Labor Party. But good interpersonal relations, teamwork and telling the truth are basic requirements for political leadership, and she simply doesn't meet any of them.
One caller referred me to a piece posted about a year ago by Moshe Krief, a veteran left-wing social activist ("The princess and the pea," on the Haokets website, in Hebrew ). Krief wrote that he had invited Yachimovich to participate in the Yokne'am Conference, which was slated to address important social issues. Yachimovich agreed, but canceled a day before the conference opened after discovering that she would have to share the stage with MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima ), Yokne'am Mayor Simon Alfasi and a well-known educator from the north.
"Yachimovich conditioned her appearance on speaking before everyone else and being above everyone else," Krief wrote. "The princess wouldn't speak alongside everyone else or sit on the stage with everyone else ... It suddenly became clear that honors and control of the stage were the focus of her interest."
I called Krief. He remembered the incident well. "I was deeply shocked," he said. "What is this lust for honor? I asked her to reconsider, but Shelly wanted the stage solo."
This incident is stunningly similar to the embarrassing incident I described in these pages last week: Yachimovich refused to take the stage at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya until all the other speakers had left it. Where did she acquire this snobbishness?
Responding to my piece in her blog, Yachimovich crowned herself Israel's foremost warrior against economic concentration. But the truth is that long before she had even heard of this issue, Haaretz's business section (today TheMarker ) was waging a long, stubborn battle against economic concentration, the big monopolies and the tycoons who control large swathes of the economy, and for competition and the decentralization of economic power.
I was the paper's business editor at the time and I frequently denounced the phenomenon of economic concentration in my articles. Yachimovich doesn't understand that a market economy and free competition (in which I believe ) require the decentralization of economic power, a war against economic concentration and the dissolution monopolies. She does understand taking populist positions so that absolutely everyone will love her, from Peace Now to the settlers to the ultra-Orthodox.
In her blog, Yachimovich misquotes my article and writes things that have no connection to reality. For instance: "Most Israelis earn NIS 20.70 an hour." What country is Yachimovich talking about? Sudan? Egypt? Cuba? North Korea?
Israel has 2.9 million salaried employees, and their average wage is NIS 8,189 per month. Of these, about 30 percent work in the public sector, where the minimum wage is virtually nonexistent because employees enjoy so many perks. The low wage Yachimovich cited does exist in parts of the private sector, in small workplaces and for people who work through employment agencies. But according to studies by the Bank of Israel, only around 400,000 workers - about 14 percent of all salaried employees - earn this little.
Something certainly must be done about them: The minimum wage must be raised, and it must also be enforced. But where did she get "most of Israel's citizens"? Whence this evil demagoguery? Whence this ignorance and superficiality?" Is all fair in the fight for another headline?
In his article, Krief termed Yachimovich "the new princess." But since then, a year has gone by, and the princess has grown up and become a queen - "the Queen of England."
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