Diaspora Minister Nachman Shai on Sunday morning told Reshet Bet radio that his party should have expressed “more right-wing attitudes” to avoid its colossal defeat last Tuesday. “LGBTQ and feminism didn’t use to be the party’s core, the emphasis on social issues was exaggerated,” he said.
Shai, a former commander of the IDF Army radio station, also served as the IDF spokesman between 1988 and 1991, reaching the rank of Brigadier-General. He served in the Lapid-Bennett government as diaspora affairs minister despite not winning a Knesset seat. He received his appointment as a favor from Labor Chair Merav Michaeli he now blames for the party’s drop from 7 to 4 seats.
“We did not read the political map in the State of Israel accurately,” Shai explained. “Our society is moving to the right and we had to draw our conclusions – we probably should have expressed more right-wing attitudes.”
According to the outgoing Labor minister, the public in Israel expects an iron fist from its government and is prepared to compromise on values to achieve personal security, so, maybe the Labor party should have gone in that direction as well.
True to the notion that leadership is about accepting responsibility for failure, Minister Shai blamed Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid for the loss, saying they did not focus on the political aspect of running the country. “The biggest mistake of the ‘change bloc’ was that it focused on management and action and forgot that in the end, the game is politics. Both Bennett and Lapid wanted to be prime ministers, and forgot that they faced a volatile political arena full of bumps,” he noted.
He sounded deeply depressed regarding the future of his Labor party: “My party has been sinking over the years. There was a rare surge with Merav Michaeli, it was a blip, but the clear processes that should have been read and understood are that our camp is dwindling and sinking and needs to be refreshed and renewed.”
He continued, sounding more like a professional dirge-singer at a funeral than a political leader: “It may be that the organizational structures of Labor and Meretz have become obsolete and we need to think of a bigger camp that will capture all the forces to the left of Yesh Atid.”
This may be a good place to point out that a mere seven years ago, in the 2015 election to the 20th Knesset, Labor, under the leadership of now-President Isaac Herzog won 24 mandates. But Shai is right in his assessment that many on the traditional left voted this time for right-wing parties that promised to bring back the sense of governance and sovereignty that has been abandoned by the outgoing government.
It should also be pointed out, while we’re at it, that until it committed political and national suicide in 1994 with the Oslo accords, Labor was an equal match to Likud and won every election until 1977. Perhaps instead of running a fake memorial in October to Itzhak Rabin who was murdered in November, where Michaeli claimed to be Rabin’s heir apparent, Labor should have admitted that Rabin, too, were he alive today, would probably have voted for Ben Gvir.