MK Shelly Yechimovich (Zionist Union) argues the Left's loss in March elections was not caused by Netanyahu's remarks against Arabs, but rather was the result of a long history of leftist arrogance and its alienation from various segments of Israeli society.
"We tend to be very impatient when it comes to soul-searching," Yechimovich said in recording obtained by Yishai Frishman and published on the Mida news site on Thursday.
"We do two minutes of soul-searching and then we're fed up, and return to being aggressive and angry at ourselves for daring to even question the justice of cause."
According to Yechimovich, this same pattern repeated itself during the last election. "There was a minimal and symbolic repentance in the wake of the Garbuz fiasco, but immediately after, we lifted out heads with pride for no reason and returned to the old rhetoric."
The Labor party, which merged with Hatnua to become the Zionist Union, has always had an issue with Mizrahi Jews, Yechimovich asserted – an issue often systematically silenced by the party itself.
Yechimovich, a journalist before joining politics, recounted doing an "It's All Talk" program during the 1999 elections about the anti-Mizrahi remarks made by actress Tiki Dayan, in which she called Netanyahu supporters "riffraff."
"I received a lot of criticism from people who said it would jeopardize Ehud Barak's chances of winning the election," Yechimovich noted.
Returning to Yair Garbuz, the artist whose speech at a left-wing rally ten days before elections stirred controversy, Yechimovich was quick to stress that Garbuz was not a Labor member, although his remarks still caused unimaginable damage to the party.
"Garbuz is not a Labor party member. The demonstration wasn't a Labor demonstration. But many people in Israeli society felt that Garbuz was expressing the feelings in our camp. And you know what? They're simply right. They're right."
"The conjecture that people on the Right vote emotionally, irrationally, primitively carrying amulets is just not true," Yechimovich fired. "We also vote emotionally, tribally and based on identity. We also vote for those who threaten us the least and look more like us."
"Voting irrationally takes place in the Left camp too and may actually be even more prominent there," the MK asserted. "Mizrahis vote for Ashekanzis and Mizrahis, while Ashkenazis only vote for Ashkenazis."
Yechimovich argues that this elitism is one of the main reasons for the Left's failure in the last election.
"We are creating a campaign that is very tribal, very much based on identity. The last campaign brought the entire tribe, en masse, and even dragged over some voters from [Yesh Atid chair Yair] Lapid."
But in the end the strategy backfired: "The campaign was so successful and so tribal until it caused the other side to withdraw into itself, to protect itself, and to go out to battle once again."
The issue is deeper than Netanyahu's remarks about Arabs coming out to the polls in droves, Yechimovich stressed. "That may have given an ugly finish to the whole thing, but it's not the reason [we lost]. At the end it was a battle of identity."