Labor Leader Says No Self-Respecting Mizrachi Would Vote Likud

YERUSHALAYIM -
israel elections
Avi Gabbay, leader of the Labor Party, speaks during a Conference at Tel Aviv University last week. (Flash90)

In the latest accusation of racism in the Israeli election campaign, Labor party chairman Avi Gabbay expressed outrage at an all-Ashkenazi group photo of Likud politicians.

“A Mizrachi who respects himself, who respects his parents, his heritage, his parents’ hopes to one day be equal in the State of Israel, who thinks his child is equal and thinks his child needs to dream of becoming prime minister in the state of Israel — can’t vote for the Netanyahu family,” Gabbay told Channel 12.

Gabbay pointed to a group selfie of seven Likud senior officials taken recently, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, and was shared by the PM on social media with the caption, “Leaders united for Likud’s victory.”

All the candidates were Ashkenazi men: Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, former Yerushalayim mayor Nir Barkat, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, Absorption Minister Yoav Gallant and former interior minister Gideon Saar.

“They exclude and hide their Mizrachi ministers, men and women. It’s unbearable. We’re in 2019. To exclude your Mizrachi ministers, male and female, from such a photo is a racist act,” Gabbay said.

“I don’t understand people who are Mizrachi, like me, who see a picture like that and see how the Netanyahu family has behaved over the years, and in the end are able to vote for the Netanyahu family.”

Missing from the picture were such Mizrachi figures in Likud as Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel, Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, and Culture Minister Miri Regev.

Regev, of Moroccan extraction, was reportedly offended by the photo, her supporters charging that she was deliberately excluded because of an internal Likud poll which found that the outspoken minister was not drawing votes, according to Channel 12.

Likud officials sought to mollify Regev since the poll, saying that Mr. Netanyahu “values” her and that she is very popular and an important part of the election campaign.

In recent weeks, a number of candidates have been accused of racism or inciting it, including Mr. Netanyahu, Otzma Yehudit, and several Arab politicians.