Gab­bay slammed for say­ing the Left for­got how to be Jewish,

Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE - • By GIL HOFF­MAN

Zion­ist Union leader Avi Gab­bay faced crit­i­cism from MKs in his party Tues­day for telling party ac­tivists at Ben-Gu­rion Univer­sity of the Negev on Mon­day that “the Left for­got what it means to be Jewish.”

Gab­bay re­called that Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu whis­pered that state­ment in the ear of the late Sephardi Kab­bal­ist Rabbi Yitzhak Kadourie and was caught on cam­era. That Oc­to­ber 1997 in­ci­dent caused a ma­jor po­lit­i­cal up­roar.

“Do you know what the Left did in re­sponse [to what Ne­tanyahu said]?” Gab­bay asked a ques­tioner at the event. “It for­got what it means to be Jewish. They said ‘they say it about us but now we are just lib­er­als.’ It is not true. We are Jews, and we must speak about our Jewish val­ues.”

MK Amir Peretz, who ran against Gab­bay in the July 4 Labor lead­er­ship race, said he did not ac­cept Gab­bay’s anal­y­sis, not­ing that Gab­bay was a new­comer to the party that he only joined last Jan­uary af­ter serv­ing as a Ku­lanu cabi­net min­is­ter in Ne­tanyahu’s gov­ern­ment.

“He sees things from out­side, while we see them from in­side the camp,” Peretz said.

For­mer Zion­ist Union leader Isaac Her­zog said Gab­bay was right in say­ing that Labor should ex­press Jewish pride but said “Gab­bay did not ex­press him­self prop­erly.”

Zion­ist Union MK Miki Rosen­thal wrote on Twit­ter: “I am left-wing. I am Jewish. And I don’t have a mem­ory prob­lem.”

Other MKs said worse things crit­i­ciz­ing Gab­bay pri­vately but de­clined to say any­thing on the record, be­cause they don’t want to harm his chances in the next gen­eral elec­tion.

“How long will we have to de­fend his re­marks from the gut that are not prop­erly thought out?” one MK said.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid re­sponded: “It is good Gab­bay is go­ing to the Cen­ter, but he can do it with­out in­sult­ing peo­ple and telling them whether they’re Jews.”

Bayit Ye­hudi leader Naf­tali Bennett wrote on Twit­ter that “Gab­bay is mas­querad­ing as Lapid, who is mas­querad­ing as Ne­tanyahu, who is mas­querad­ing as Bennett. So why don’t you be Bennett and that’s it?”

Ne­tanyahu ad­viser Yonatan Urich re­sponded by tweet­ing that Bennett’s tweet dis­played hubris and child­ish­ness.

Gab­bay re­ceived praise from Shas leader Arye Deri, who wrote that he was right to say that they should not for­get to be Jews. Deri, who like Gab­bay is from Morocco, called him a word that means “one of us.”

Meretz leader Ze­hava GalOn said it is only Gab­bay and not the Left that for­got what it means to be Jewish.

“There is no con­tra­dic­tion be­tween Ju­daism and lib­eral val­ues, and not ev­ery Jew is will­ing to bow to the haredi [ul­tra-Ortho­dox] or re­li­gious Zion­ist ver­sions of Ju­daism,” Gal-On wrote on Twit­ter. “The Left that founded [Gab­bay’s] party once knew that.”

Meretz MK Michal Rozin said the Left knew bet­ter than Ortho­dox Jews what it means to be Jewish be­cause “the Left is in­clu­sive of all re­li­gious streams, and any­one who chooses to be a part of the Jewish com­mu­nity ac­cord­ing to their path and be­liefs.”

Gab­bay also sur­prised peo­ple at the event in Beer­sheba when he re­vealed that he was will­ing to serve un­der Lapid if Yesh Atid re­ceived more man­dates than the Zion­ist Union, in or­der to en­sure that a coali­tion could be formed that is not led by Likud.

“I will do all I can to be num­ber one, but if I am not cho­sen, I am will­ing to be num­ber two to bring about change,” he said.

Asked on Is­rael Ra­dio if he would serve un­der Gab­bay, Lapid said: “When Yesh Atid wins, I will call upon Likud and Labor to form a na­tional unity gov­ern­ment be­cause that is what the pub­lic wants. Un­til then, I ad­vise politi­cians to stop deal­ing with them­selves.”

(Marc Is­rael Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

AVI GAB­BAY

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