Margalit echoes Peretz in new leftist campaign
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
"The time has come to raise our heads."
Zionist Union MK Erel Margalit officially embarked on his campaign for the Labor Party leadership Tuesday night, using a strategy that has proven effective for fellow contestant Amir Peretz.When Peretz announced his candidacy in December, he surprised reporters at his Knesset press conference by calling himself a “leftist” – a word proven consistently by polls to scare away Israeli voters.“I am a man of the Left, and I never hid my views,” Peretz said. “Left means fighting for social justice, peace and democracy. I won’t let this race be about who’s more loyal to the State of Israel.Left also means security and pursuing peace.” Since that press conference, the few polls that there have been about the Labor race have pronounced Peretz the front-runner.Margalit has been an unannounced candidate for an extended period of time, and only formally joined the race Tuesday night when he released a video on social media that echoed Peretz.Margalit lamented in the video that the word leftist had become a mark of shame in Israel. He mocked strategists who have told him not to say he is leftwing, because the nation is moving rightward and acting more right-wing brings votes.“Since the [Yitzhak] Rabin assassination we have held our heads low,” Margalit said in the video. “We are embarrassed of who we are.Enough. I and many other Israelis are simply leftists.No, it’s not a curse word.Leftists built the state.”He listed the achievements of the Israeli Left in efforts to achieve peace and security and called top security figures left-wing.“Leftists love Israel no less than anyone else,” Margalit said “The time has come to raise our heads.”Margalit concluded the video by declaring, “I am an Israeli patriot, I am leftist and I am not ashamed of it,” adding, “The leftists are coming back, this time to win.”Peretz’s campaign responded to Margalit’s video by saying, “Soon every candidate will have a mustache,” as Peretz does.Margalit’s associates said the campaigns were completely different. They said that while Peretz has called himself “Center-Left,” it has been Margalit who has been leading unpopular efforts against Hebron shooter Elor Azaria and in favor of Breaking the Silence, an organization that exposes wrongdoing by IDF soldiers.The deadline to join the July 4 election is next Thursday, April 27. As many as 10 candidates are expected to run.