Labor coming together, though disagreements remain

MK Yossi Yonah welcomes Amir Peretz's return, still doesn't understand Herzog's vision, praises Bennett's education plan.

Shimon Cohen ,

Yossi Yonah
Yossi Yonah
Yossi Zamir, Flash 90

MK Professor Yossi Yonah (Zionist Union) spoke with Arutz Sheva about the changes taking place in his party, as Avi Nissenkoren joins its ranks, Amir Peretz returns, and Gabi Ashkenazi considers enlisting.

These are in addition to party leader Yitzhak Herzog's policy speech and Education Minister Naftali Bennett's (Jewish Home) initiative to include Middle Eastern Jewish history in school curricula.

At first, he was asked to comment on the internal political dimension of his party and MK Herzog's speech about separating from the Palestinians on Sunday. According to Yonah, after Herzog's speech "There was still a disagreement and there is no full consensus. Furthermore, the presentation by the party head brought the different sides closer. He unequivocally emphasized the pledge to the principle of two states, a principle that has guided the party for years."

"Now we can talk about the concept of separation as steps that need to fit in with the incessant search for a political solution, and also as part of a framework of a regional solution. This is how I understood him," says Yonah.

As for the new people joining the party, MK Yonah says that it is only natural for the Histadrut head, Avi Nissenkoren, to find a political home in the Labor party and that his outlook aligns with the party. "We implored him many times to be an integral part of the party." Speaking about Amir Peretz, Yonah explained that "We are happy for his return and praise his return. I don't think that his abandoning the party resulted from ideological uncertainty, and his place is with the Labor party. There were personal disagreements rather than ideological ones, and it's great that they have overcome these disagreements."

Continuing on to the possibility of former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi joining, MK Yonah said: "It's a compliment to us that public figures, former military figures and others see the Labor party as a platform for achieving their visions." He acknowledged that Ashkenazi has not yet explained this vision, noting, "It seems that he sees the party's outlook as matching his own. I say this is how it seems, without having heard his outlook. I still haven't heard a firm statement from him that he is coming, though if he does he will be welcome. When someone sees Labor as a platform I want to assume that he sees the party's outlook as matching his own."

The second part of the talk focused on Yonah's compliments towards Education Minister Naftali Bennett's project to integrate the history of Middle Eastern Jews in the educational system. He insisted that praising Bennett's plan is a natural reaction, despite the two politicians' differences. "Even when there is a disagreement between political parties in the Knesset, it doesn't mean that they disagree on everything. There are things on which we feel the same, even between members of different parties. In this case, it's the Education Minister's turn, just as Rabbi Yitzhak Levy tried during his time as Education Minister from the NRP, to properly include the traditions, history and culture of Jews from the Middle East in the studies of all Israeli students. Just because Bennett is asking for this and he belongs to the Jewish Home, with which we disagree on a number of issues, does not need to prevent me from praising the important step. I would congratulate anyone who pushed for it.

MK Yonah was asked how he wants to see Bennett's plan put into action, and he responded by speaking about himself. "My parents came from Iraq. I was born in Israel and I don't know enough about the history of Iraqi Jews in previous centuries. This is just an example of Judaism that lived by the rivers of Babylon for 2,500 years, and what Israeli children known about such a long period of time in such an important group. I would like them to know about the history, the prominent figures, the spiritual works, and even the politics. These are things that are important for every Israeli child to know. When we all know about all of us, it will contribute to our greater cohesion and a greater feeling of belonging for all the different groups.