New Faces of Israel's Election

Competition on Right and Center and for Orthodox Vote

Fresh Face: Ex-news anchor Yair Lapid may not become the next Israeli prime minister. But he leads a crop of fresh faces contesting this month’s general election.
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Fresh Face: Ex-news anchor Yair Lapid may not become the next Israeli prime minister. But he leads a crop of fresh faces contesting this month’s general election.

By Nathan Jeffay

Published January 07, 2013, issue of January 04, 2013.
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Merav Michaeli
Merav Michaeli

MERAV MICHAELI

Just as Feiglin will be hoping to push Likud to the right, feminist journalist Merav Michaeli, who surprised observers by standing in the Labor primaries, is hoping to push her party to the left.

Party leader Shelly Yachimovich has given the 46-year-old a cold welcome to the party and avoided appearing in public with her. With an eye on the polls, which predict Labor’s growth from eight seats to almost 20, the party has been keen to strike a center-left image, and apparently feels that Michaeli’s ideological brazenness is unhelpful.

Yachimovich tends to stay quiet on the Palestinian issue, steering her campaign to social issues. But Michaeli is rarely quiet on Palestinians. “We don’t understand that cutting Palestinians off from water supplies, destroying their homes and villages, and repressing them in so many different ways for so many long years is also part of our history,” she wrote in Haaretz in August. “All of these are part of our story, no less than they are part of the story of the Palestinians.”

She strongly advocates an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal that involves far-reaching concessions by Israel and fiercely criticizes settlements. On the domestic front, she opposes privatization of government-owned companies and champions traditional left-wing causes.

Michaeli says that she is driven by her feminism. “The American feminist Gloria Steinem wrote that a woman can either be a feminist or a masochist,” she stated in November in an article explaining her decision to join Labor. “Feminism is political and political issues are the forces at work in society and in the state, the use that is made of them and the division of power. Politics is the balance of power. Economics, health, religion, law, sex, children and even the double bed are all political issues.”

Contact Nathan Jeffay at jeffay@forward.com


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