Sisterhood Blog

Woman Heading Labor Has New Vision for Israel

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share

“Shelly Yachimovich is the woman for this Israeli moment. Yachimovich is the one and only promise of contemporary politics,” wrote Ari Shavit in Haaretz earlier this month. Not everyone agrees with Shavit, but we all get to see just how Yachimovich will do now that she has been elected leader of Israel’s Labor Party.

Yachimovich, 51, represents a more moderate Labor outlook, one looking a return to the ideals of the welfare state while at the same time not disavowing the party’s historical role in the establishment and proliferation of the settlements. “I certainly do not see the settlement project as a sin and a crime,” she said in an interview published in Haaretz Magazine,” outraging Laborites further to the left, who accuse her of being a sell out to the right when it comes to peace with the Palestinians.

I, for one, am relieved to hear an Israeli politician who doesn’t speak in absolutes.

Yachimovich said, in the magazine article:

I am familiar with that well-known equation: that if there were no settlements there would be a welfare state within Israel’s borders. I am familiar with the worldview that maintains that if we cut the defense budget in half there will be money for education. It’s a worldview with no connection to reality.

So what does it mean that a woman has been elected to lead Labor for only the second time in Israel’s history? And what does it mean that this it has been 37 years since the last leader of the party was a woman - that woman having been Prime Minister Golda Meir?

And what does it mean that two of the four largest parties in the Knesset are now led by women (Tzipi Livni is the leader of Kadima)?

It appears that women may be beginning to really break the Israeli political glass ceiling. But what that means is not yet clear.

Yachimovich, herself, said in a TV interview, when asked about her views on feminism and women in leadership positions, that there are too few women in positions of power to know yet how or if this is really changing Israel.

She also noted that up to this point, most women, once they have achieved power, have been susceptible to the same faults and moral weakness as men. Perhaps Yachimovich, unique among female MK’s in her strong feminist positions, will be different. I don’t think she would be pleased to be called “the best man in the government,” as David Ben-Gurion used to refer to Golda.

Even though there is more than one woman leading major Israeli political parties, I don’t think we can expect any female bonding or kumbaya moments. There is definitely no love lost between Yachimovich and Livni, whom Yachimovich has highly criticized for her neo-liberal economic stance.

Yachimovich seems realistic about the work that needs to be done within her own party to dig it out of the hole it is in (once Israel’s leading party for decades, it is now only the fourth largest in the Knesset). “The head of the Labor Party will not be asked to form a government after the next elections. The Labor Party has a long way to go before it gains public trust, and it has to proceed on a true, deep, ideological and honest path. Not by hocus-pocus,” she told Haaretz.

It’s a good thing she isn’t planning to be prime minister very soon, because she is definitely not ready for that job. She has much to learn on the foreign policy front. In the meantime, she intends to capitalize on “this Israeli moment,” this past summer’s social protest movement, which brought to the fore many of the ideas she had been espousing for years.

“Before we fight for the borders of the State, it’s necessary to fight for this small and marginal thing that is called a state inside its borders,” she told Labor voters in a campaign video blog.

A majority of them clearly agreed with her.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Politics, Israel, Feminism

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.