Yom Kippur War vet who brought down government launches election campaign
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Yom Kippur War vet who brought down government launches election campaign

Motti Ashkenazi and social activist Gad Haran to lead Social Justice party in April vote, aim to make economic dignity a basic law

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Motti Ashkenazi attends a press conference in Tel Aviv, announcing the launch of his Social Justice party's election campaign, January 13, 2019. (Flash90)
Motti Ashkenazi attends a press conference in Tel Aviv, announcing the launch of his Social Justice party's election campaign, January 13, 2019. (Flash90)

A Yom Kippur War veteran, whose 1973 post-war public campaign is thought to have been instrumental in bringing down the government at the time, has launched a bid for the Knesset in April’s elections as the joint leader of the Social Justice party.

Motti Ashkenazi, 79, who was a reserve officer during the war, will head the party along with writer and social activist Gad Haran, the pair declared at a press conference Sunday, launching their election campaign at the Zionists of American House in Tel Aviv.

“We have come to rectify decades-long injustices,” Askenazi said, according to the Ynet news site. “It can’t be done in one go, so we decided to begin with legislating a ‘basic law of dignified existence,’ which means that Israel will provide an economic foundation for every citizen so they they can live in dignity.”

Haran said the party will be dedicated to closing the social divide in society. He noted that its electoral slate would feature a range of figures, including representatives of the elderly and disabled communities.

“Today there is a wall between those who live well and those who live in real distress, and the Social Justice party is committed to taking action to correct the situation,” Haran said.

“In our party we have no generals or tycoons; there are no princes or politicians; we come from the people and we talk about daily life,” he added, in a snipe at the political establishment and the slew of parties established by former generals since the elections were set to April 9 last month.

The Social Justice party was first established as a social movement in 2007 and was headed at the time by Russian-Israeli businessman Arcadi Gaydamak. It first ran in national elections in 2013 but failed to pass the minimum threshold for seats in the Knesset. It did not participate in the last elections, held in 2015.

Ashkenazi was the commander of the so-called “Budapest Fort” in the Sinai Desert during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the only Israeli fort that was not conquered by the Egyptian army during the fighting, despite suffering heavy losses.

After the war he launched a one-man campaign for then-defense minister Moshe Dayan to take responsibility for the war’s failures and resign. Support grew until he had a following of tens of thousands. Within months, and following the publication of the Agranat Commission, which faulted the army’s preparation for the war, then-prime minister Golda Meir resigned, bringing down the Labor government.

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