MK Shelly Yachimovich
MK Shelly YachimovichIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Labor party leader MK Shelly Yechimovich appears to have lost popularity points in a Friday appearance on Channel 2's high-rating Ulpan Shishi weekly newscast. Yechimovich proved incapable of maintaining the leader-like poise expected of a would-be prime minister when she came under attack, responding instead with an ad hominem against her critic.

It was financial pundit Nehemia Strasler who tore into Yechimovich, accusing her of being a faux socialist who in fact routinely sides with the powerful unions in market disputes. He gave a list of public debates in which Yechimovich preferred the interests of large unions to those of the consumer and taxpayer – including her objection to the lowering of cottage cheese prices, which Strasler said stemmed from her concern for the dairy unions. 

Yechimovich, who herself was a journalist on Channel 2 until she entered politics seven years ago, did not try to refute Strasler's arguments but instead accused him of being insensitive to the plight of fellow journalists, some of whom are currently facing layoffs, while he himself earns a fat "double salary" from Channel 2 and Haaretz.

"How do you know how much I make?", asked Strasler.

"I know," Yechimovich said.

Yechimovich's appearance has given rise to numerous reactions, including op-ed pieces by supporters and detractors. Judging by reader talkbacks and Facebook posts, it appears that the overwhelming majority of viewers think less highly of Yechimovich after the showdown than they did before it.