Yachimovich at conference
Photo: Motti Kimchi
Apologized. Danny Zamir
Photo: Motti Kimchi
Will run for party chair? Ofer Eini
Photo: Benny Doutsh

'Arsim' comment stirs uproar at Labor conference

Labor members protest racial slur delivered by conference speaker; Yachimovich apologizes, says 'marginalizing expressions against social groups' incongruent with party agenda

A Labor conference grew boisterous Thursday after a speaker referred to the audience as "arsim" – a derogatory, often perceived as racist, Hebrew slang term used to describe the Israeli stereotype of 'vulgar' men.


Following the statement, the audience protested, as several people got up and many voiced their offense. Security officers tried to calm things down, but the crowd was appeased only after the speaker – Danny Zamir – apologized for what he had said.


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Zamir is the chairman of the Rabin Pre-Military Academy, and his comment was made while he was sharing the stage with Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich


כמעט פיצוץ בעבודה. זמיר (מימין) אחרי דבריו (צילום: מוטי קמחי)

Zamir (R) after derogatory remark (Photo: Motti Kimchi)


After the incident, Yachimovich also delivered an apology, saying: "I would like to apologize for what (Zamir) said and express my deep dissent regarding the statement. That's not us; we don’t use marginalizing expressions against social groups. We are a party for everyone – Arabs and Jews, Mizrahim and Ashkenazim. It's very important for me to say that."


She nonetheless stressed that "Danny Zamir is a wonderful man who does great work."


'Party failed in election'

The conference had become heated even before Zamir's comment, as Knesset members Eitan Cabel and Erel Margalit urged the Labor chairwoman to refrain from approving changes to the party protocols. The changes that Yachimovich planned to instate, Cabel and Margalit said, are her way to "undemocratically" disempower the party's executive committee.


The two Labor MKs have enlisted the support of hundreds of party members who signed a petition demanding that "the party's failure in the election" be examined. MK Isaac Herzog supported their stance, saying that the party should address the results of the Knesset election and that any vote on the changes must be done after the party's executive committee discusses the issue.


Histadrut labor federation Chairman Ofer Eini also spoke against Yachimovich's intent to instate the changes, as he told Ynet that he was "adamantly against (Yachimovich's) move."


Eini has traditionally been Yachimovich's ally, and despite his reservations stressed: "I call Shelly a friend and she will continue to be my friend in the future." He nonetheless pushed for postponing the vote on the party protocols and insisted that the conference focus on the election results rather than on the party protocols.


Sources within the party told Ynet that Eini's speech might indicate that he plans to run for party chair in the next primaries.


התנצלה. יחימוביץ', הערב (צילום: מוטי קמחי)

A party divided against itself? Yachimovich (Photo: Motti Kimchi)


In response to the statements delivered by the Histadrut chairman, Yachimovich said: "Ofer Eini, my friend… I know you wanted us to join the coalition. You wanted me to be the finance minister and I understand that. But the decision to be a part of the opposition is congruent with our agenda; from within the opposition we will be part of any struggle for equality and serve the working class.


"The finance portfolio is important," the Labor chairwoman added, "but I wasn't willing to be Netanyahu's executive officer. We are faced with the enormous responsibility of working with a harmonious government; the Netanyahu twins – (Naftali) Bennett and (Yair) Lapid – will force us into a grave battle."



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פרסום ראשון: 04.04.13, 23:55
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