Six years after abandoning her successful career in journalism in favor of the Israeli parliament, Shelly Yachimovich reached the peak of her political career on Tuesday night when she was elected
as the Labor Party's
new chairwoman - the first woman to lead the party since Golda Meir.
Yachimovich beat the person who brought her into politics, Amir Peretz, with 54% of the votes. Peretz was forced to settle for 43.5%.
Yachimovich, 51, lives in Tel Aviv and has a son and daughter. Her parents are Holocaust survivors.
In her youth, she was expelled from high school after hanging protest signs in the school corridors. Later, in her journalistic and political work, she became active for workers and women's rights and against tycoons.
Yachimovich. Slammed by Arison's PR agent (Photo: Yaron Brener)
The new Labor leader graduated from the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba. As a student, she began her journalistic career at the Al Hamishmar newspaper.
She joined Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) radio station Reshet Bet, where she covered the Histadrut labor federation and the Knesset. She later became the anchor of political radio show "Hakol Diburim".
In her radio show, Yachimovich strongly advocated the withdrawal of the IDF
from southern Lebanon
and was slammed by Golani Brigade Commander during a motivation talk with his soldiers.
In 2000, Yachimovich left IBA radio and joined the commercial Channel 2. In the meantime, she also published two novels.
With Peretz in 2005. From friends to rivals (Photo: Yaron Brener)
In early 2003, Yachimovich irked Shari Arison's
PR agent, Ran Rahav, after criticizing the richest woman in Israel for firing 900 Bank Hapoalim workers. Rahav sent an angry letter to the heads of the Israeli economy and media, calling her a "bad woman" for her "over-righteousness and hatred of Israel's rich."
During those years, a parody of Yachimovich played by actor Tal Friedman became a regular feature of popular satirical television program "Eretz Nehederet".
On November 29, 2005, two weeks after Amir Peretz's election as Labor chairman, Yachimovich decided to leave the world of journalism and join politics. She came in ninth in the party's primary elections and was sworn in as a Knesset member in 2006.
But the close friendship with Peretz did not last long. Yachimovich objected to Peretz's appointment as defense minister in Ehud Olmert's
government and chose not to become a minister in order to focus on her parliamentary work.
In May 2007, after the Second Lebanon War,
Yachimovich supported Ehud Barak
in the Labor chairmanship elections.
With Ehud Barak in better days (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Yachimovich was a member of the Knesset's Finance and House committees and chaired the Ethics Committee and the Committee on the Rights of the Child. Today she is a member of the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee.
In her six years as a Knesset member, Yachimovich has made a name for herself as an active parliamentarian, who has enacted a number of important social laws thanks to her cooperation with other MKs.
The laws she was responsible for include forcing employers to provide their cashiers with a seat, favoring Israeli factories over foreign ones in governmental bids, and extending maternity leave from 12 to 14 weeks.