Join MK Merav Michaeli for an inside look at Knesset chaos, Labor’s unraveling
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Behind the headlinesTimes of Israel Community exclusive

Join MK Merav Michaeli for an inside look at Knesset chaos, Labor’s unraveling

Access Wednesday’s Behind the Headlines webinar by becoming a ToI Community member today

Illustrative: Knesset Member Merav Michaeli speaks during the 'Economic Independence = Women Empowerment' conference ahead of international Woman's Day, at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, on March 7, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Illustrative: Knesset Member Merav Michaeli speaks during the 'Economic Independence = Women Empowerment' conference ahead of international Woman's Day, at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, on March 7, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

In this week’s installment of The Times of Israel’s new Behind the Headlines online video series, ToI’s political analyst Haviv Rettig Gur speaks with Labor party lawmaker Merav Michaeli about flagging public trust in Israel’s politicians, the dire situation of the Israeli left and the desperate state of the storied Labor party — which may not make it into the Knesset in the next election.

The video conversation with Michaeli will be presented to Times of Israel Community members this Wednesday, August 12, at 1 p.m. Eastern/8 p.m. Israel. If you’ve not yet joined the ToI Community, you can sign up here.

Michaeli, 53, is no. 3 on the Labor party list of MKs. Her two fellow faction members, party chief Amir Peretz and Itzik Shmuli, joined the unity government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, becoming the ministers of economy and welfare, respectively.

Michaeli, however, has refused to sit in a coalition under Netanyahu. So she’s now a de facto opposition member within her own party, and within the coalition.

Yet from that sidelined place, she’s become a force to reckon with in the Knesset.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and MK Merav Michaeli, right, attend a conference marking the 25th anniversary of the peace agreement between Israel and Jordan at the Knesset, on November 11, 2019. (Flash90)

It was Michaeli who advanced the bill last month outlawing gay conversion therapy that sparked the first round of now-unending coalition crises that have led many to predict new elections are around the corner.

It was Michaeli, too — a secular feminist who has drafted legislation to privatize the Israeli chief rabbinate — who managed to win a seat last month on the state committee that appoints Israel’s rabbinic court judges, a position she says she will use to appoint more “humane” rabbinic jurists.

And it was Michaeli whose berating of Finance Minister Israel Katz and Knesset Finance Committee chair MK Moshe Gafni last month about tax cuts for wealthy multiple-home owners amid a widespread economic collapse was seen by an astounding 1.5 million Israelis.

Labor MK Merav Michaeli at a Labor party conference in Tel Aviv on January 22, 2019. (Flash90)

Polls show Israelis are growing disaffected by the scheming and instability of their political class. It should be a moment of opportunity for those opposed to the current leadership. But, Michaeli laments, the left has spent too many years serving in right-wing governments and apologizing for its values and beliefs to now serve as that viable alternative.

Can Labor survive? Will public discontent translate into an opportunity for political alternatives to make themselves heard?

In the coming weeks, ToI reporters and editors will continue video-interviewing more influential individuals from a wide spectrum of fields and on diverse topics for the series. Like The Times of Israel itself, the Behind the Headlines series aims to offer a fair, deep look at some of today’s burning issues and noteworthy personalities.

If you’d like to join the session with Michaeli — it’s not too late. Become a Times of Israel Community member today and you’ll gain access to this Wednesday’s session, along with all of our upcoming exclusive webinars. You’ll also gain an ad-free experience of the ToI site and apps, and a weekly insider letter from David Horovitz.

If you are already a ToI Community member, you’ll receive a link to the session by email on Wednesday.

Check out these previous Behind the Headlines conversations, with Bret Stephens of The New York Times, with archaeologist Dr. Joe Uziel, and with former Bank of Israel deputy governor Nadine Baudot-Trajtenberg.

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