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Efforts Underway to Reverse Labor Party’s Deterioration

A group of Labor Party intellectuals, writers and academicians met at Kibbutz Beth Hashita over the weekend for a discussion of means to reverse what they consider the party’s alarming deterioration and the alienation of its leadership from the rank-and-file. With national elections just about a year away, the meeting was taken seriously by political circles within the Labor Party, some of whom viewed the gathering as an incipient revolt.

The participants agreed to work for change within the Labor movement. But they warned the party leadership that “Our votes are not in your pocket. We may abstain.” They also called for a mass meeting of leaders of the various Labor sponsored settlements and kibbutz movements and local workers committee heads to discuss the party’s future and how to restore its former strength and positive image. Their assessment of the Labor Party’s present condition was best summed up in the slogan of the meeting: “Things Can’t Go On Like This.”

The meeting was attended, among others, by Nahum Sarig, a veteran kibbutz leader and officer in the security services; writers Chaim Ghoury, S, Izhar and Chanoch Bartov; journalists Azarya Alon and Nathan Shaham and Prof. Abraham Wachman.

They called for election reforms that would make elected officials more accountable to the electorate, an end to the internal rifts that have demoralized the party and undermined its integrity and an end to the condition in which the party leadership is totally detached from its constituency. Some of the speakers expressed doubts that any meaningful changes can be brought about. Others charged that the situation within Israel’s governing party is responsible for continuing labor strife and for the rising incidence of fraud and corruption on the part of high officials.

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