The ‘Zionist Camp’ and its win for women
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The ‘Zionist Camp’ and its win for women

The Hebrew press cheers the victory of female candidates in the primaries, but still finds the party list lackluster

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Zionist Union MKs Shelly Yachimovich (L), Stav Shaffir (C) and Tzipi Livni (R) on January 14, 2015. (photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Zionist Union MKs Shelly Yachimovich (L), Stav Shaffir (C) and Tzipi Livni (R) on January 14, 2015. (photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The results of the Labor party primaries lead the news coverage in all national dailies on Thursday, with Yedioth Ahronoth and Haaretz praising the marked female presence in the party but voicing other reservations about the center-left party, and Israel Hayom lamenting the “large step to the left.”

Over in Yedioth, the headline declares “Female Power,” as Shelly Yachimovich and Stav Shaffir receive the third and fourth seats behind Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, and four other candidates are pushed up to the top 25.

But veteran columnist Nahum Barnea is somewhat less gung-ho about the line-up, saying it lacks diversity and is unlikely to form the next coalition.

“At first glance, the results of the Labor party primaries appear to be a great success: young, active, media-friendly MKs advance, the number of women and their place on the list improved dramatically, social issues – something the Labor party has not excelled at – top the agenda…. But at a second glance, the results are less exciting. The list is too dovish, too Tel Aviv, too unripe. Several of its members would be hard-pressed to explain why they are in Labor and not Meretz. There are no immigrants, neither Russian nor Ethiopian. There are no religious people,” Barnea writes.

The two, unfilled, “reserved” seats on the list ought to be given to a candidate with a strong military background, and economist Manual Trajtenberg, he writes. “But either way, only someone especially optimistic would believe that representatives of this camp will be in the next government in the roles of prime minister, foreign minister, finance minister, and defense minister,” he writes.

Over in Haaretz, the paper spotlights the “four women in the top ten” within the headline of its top story, but takes issue with the party’s new name: The Zionist Camp.

“Yesterday, Herzog and Livni announced that the temporary name of their joint list, ‘The Zionist Camp’ would be made permanent, despite criticism about it in past weeks from the Arab public in Israel and peace organizations.”

Columnist Chemi Shalev argues that the large number of female candidates in Labor has put the two largest parties at odds as never before.

“After the Likud’s new list turned out to be more conservative and less female-friendly, along comes Labor to present a list that is more female-oriented and more liberal than ever before. The differences between the two parties were never as stark, both ideologically and personally: Likud is from Mars, as it were, and Labor is from Venus. The Likud is older, more entrenched and almost uniformly male while Labor is suddenly a younger, more varied and vaguely radical Social-Democratic party,” he writes.

“The comparison to American politics is equally pertinent, though Labor still lacks one potentially critical element: Unlike the Democratic Party, Labor will still be hard pressed to portray itself as the natural home for Israel’s underprivileged minorities, including Arabs, Russians or Jews of North African descent – otherwise, the analogy is almost perfect. The Likud establishment is also trying to neutralize a noisy right-wing minority but finds itself moving rightwards in the process, while Labor, like the Democrats, is drawn to an increasingly liberal agenda.”

Israel Hayom, meanwhile, emphasizes criticism of the new party from the Likud and Jewish Home parties. A harsh Likud party statement terms the new list a “radical left-wing party which will endanger Israel’s security,” and accuses it of being “anti-religious” and “inexperienced.” The Jewish Home party said the Labor party founders are “turning in their graves,”  it reports. The “post-Zionist” joint list has members who supported the Turkish Mavi Marmara flotilla, who are ashamed of the national anthem, and back the New Israel Fund, the Jewish Home charges.

The accusations are echoed in a column by Haim Shine, who writes that “most Israelis internalized fairly quickly that this is a nice list that is capable of leading an activism campaign, but not the State of Israel with the internal and external threats it’s facing.”

Shine accuses the party of being “post-Zionist,” pointing to MK Shaffir’s opposition to the “Hativka” anthem, calls by Merav Michaeli for Israelis not to send their children to the IDF, and Zoheir Bahloul, who has said Israel is an apartheid state. “The Labor Party list does not pose a threat to the right wing, it is competing with Meretz for the votes of the far left,” he writes.

On a separate front, Yedioth reports that Gila Tragerman, the mother of four-year-old Daniel Tragerman, killed during the summer conflict by a shell, gave testimony to the UN inquiry on the Gaza war.

Daniel Tragerman, 4, seen during a visit at the presidential residence in Jerusalem in early August. Daniel was killed by shrapnel from a mortar shell that hit his home in Kibbutz Nahal Oz on Friday, August 22. He was laid to rest on August 24. (Photo by Flash90)
Daniel Tragerman, 4, seen during a visit at the presidential residence in Jerusalem in early August. Daniel was killed by shrapnel from a mortar shell that hit his home in Kibbutz Nahal Oz on Friday, August 22. He was laid to rest on August 24. (Photo by Flash90)

Tragerman spoke to Judge William Schabes on Skype a few days ago for a half an hour, it reports.

“I told him that the IDF knew about rocket launchers directed at Israeli communities and located in civilian areas. Although the IDF knew, they decided not to bomb [those sites], because they saw how Hamas was using children and adults as human shields,” she tells Yedioth. “I told him that Hamas fired from those populated areas knowing that the IDF wouldn’t strike, and they weren’t wrong. The army indeed didn’t fire at those areas. Why? Because we don’t hurt innocent civilians.”

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