Labor Platform: A Word from the Chairperson
Over a thousand people contributed to writing the Labor Party's platform for the elections to the 19th Knesset in a manner that very much characterizes the exciting processes taking place in the party.
On April 22, 2012, 1200 members of the Labor Party convened in Jaffa to conduct a full day of discussions around seventy round tables. The tables were organized according to the participants’ fields of expertise, interest and their degree of willingness to place the issue at the top of the Party’s agenda.
A few months earlier, prior to the conference, a special interactive website was launched – http://veida.havoda.org.il – that presented issues under the topic headings of: socio-economics, diplomacy and security, civic issues, education and the environment. Over 350 position papers were uploaded to the site and party members responded to them.
Dozens of people took it upon themselves to collate the results of the discussions, and the outcomes of the ideological convention formed the basis for the writing of the platform and vision for the Labor Party in the lead-up to the elections. The Labor Party platform presents a worldview and an ideological and practical mission statement. It deals with society and economics, peace and security, health, education, the rule of law, internal security, religion and state, industry, local government, the workplace, minorities in Israel, agriculture, sustainability and the environment, transportation, culture and sport, and many other important topics. These topics contain, concisely, the totality of issues that make up our lives here, under the blue skies of the Middle East, issues that affect us both as individuals and as a state and even some that transform us from individuals into a state.
This is not a routine list, but a forging of content regarding the aspiration to fix what is broken and to preserve the wonderful things that are already here.
The platform was built with an eye towards our basic shared values, towards solidarity, towards a state that is responsible for its citizens, towards a shared history; a founding and uniting vision.
The Labor Party established the State. It has seen many different incarnations and vicissitudes since then, but it has always drawn its strength from its Zionist, social-democratic, and pragmatic core.
The aspiration for an equal society, recognizing the State of Israel's profound responsibility for all its citizens regardless of race, gender or religion, and the aspiration for peace with our neighbors and for military might, was always accompanied by a realistic view of reality, and the ability to convert this vision into action.
Recently a wonderful thing has happened to us. The true original values of the Labor Party, those deeply rooted values, have been rekindled and are more relevant and vibrant than ever. Throughout the land an “old-new” song is rising, and it is carried on the lips of masses of youth, naturally connected to the faith and hope of their elders. It is the aspiration for an exemplary state in the spirit of the vision of the prophets.
This is the aspiration for a state that embodies the opposite of what we are experiencing, especially over the past decade:
Intolerable gaps, amongst the largest in the western world, between rich and poor; the disintegration of systems of government alongside unreasonable strengthening of the wealthy elite whose power already exceeds that of those who are democratically elected by the public; the constant privatization and drying up of the state; the severe erosion of job security and the right to earn a decent living for both wage earners and the self-employed; the disintegration of the basic rights of the working people and the erosion of their ability to live a financially and psychologically secure life.
For too long the poor have experienced this lack, and it is now encroaching on the already eroded and shrinking middle class at an alarming pace. The middle class, both salaried employees and small and medium business owners, is the class that carries the bulk of the burden; it is this class that is charged with upholding the economic, social, intellectual, spiritual and secure existence of the State. Real growth is that which strengthens and enhances this class, not that which wears it down – without it, there is no state.
A fair economy and just society are the conditions for the establishment of a strong, prosperous society and the bases of both the IDF's military might and the ability to pursue peace.
Because in a place where there is poverty, social gaps, erosion of shared values, in a place where faith in the state and the Zionist vision are lost – in such a place there will not be people who are willing to risk their lives for the state, nor will the flowers of peace bloom.
We are here to charge this vision with both moral and practical content, expressed in this platform.