Nissenkorn: Netanyahu, Shaked ‘Never Lifted a Finger to Help the Poor’

Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Responding to attacks on him by politicians on the right, Histadrut head Avi Nissenkorn, number-five on the Blue and White party list, said Thursday that he was strong enough to handle the flack against him. “I have been attacked by many people for many years,” he said in an interview on Army Radio. “If I wasn’t as strong as I am, I would respond in a different manner than I have responded” – with patience and without panic, he said.

In recent statements, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other figures on the right have slammed Nissenkorn for his perceived proto-socialist economic views. As Israel Railway workers took job actions over scheduling issues earlier this week, Netanyahu said that Nissenkorn, “a top candidate for finance minister, will put this country on strike. He will return us to the days when a Histadrut-oriented economy hurt ordinary Israelis. We cannot allow this to happen.” In a social media post this week, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said, “Blue and White’s true color is red. We cannot allow Nissenkorn to be finance minister, returning us to the days when the unions ran this country. We cannot allow him to do to the economy what he is doing to Israel Railways.”

“The whole attack coming from them is ridiculous,” Nissenkorn said. “Ayelet Shaked yammers on about the economy, but she has not lifted one finger to help the economically weak, and neither has that fellow from Caesarea,” he said, referring to Netanyahu, without naming him directly. “They are claiming that they engineered the raise in the minimum wage, but it wasn’t them – it was me.” To claim that he will put the unions in charge of the economy is “just demagoguery,” he added.

Asked what he hoped for personally in the election, Nissenkorn said, “My first wish is that Blue and White wins. I will give up leadership of the Histadrut for the good of the country. The situation here is critical.” When asked what job he wanted in a future government, Nissenkorn said that “obviously I want an important ministry.” However, he noted, “I never mentioned Finance.” More important, he added, was social change. “I am here to help the economically weak. I believe in a free market economy, as long as prosperity does not come at the expense of the poor.”