Israeli Labor leader Merav Michaeli’s speech to LFI’s 2022 Annual Lunch

Israeli Labor leader Merav Michaeli addressing LFI’s 2022 Annual Lunch


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נאום לידידי.ות ישראל בלייבור הבריטי

Labour Friends of Israel

 22 נובמבר 2022

Thank you, Steve, for that kind introduction.

I am delighted to be with you this afternoon at LFI’s annual lunch.

Can I begin by thanking LFI for your valued work:

  • making the case for Israel;
  • waging the battle against anti-Zionist antisemitism;
  • and promoting the cause of peace, reconciliation and two states for two peoples.

I also want to pay tribute to my friend, Keir Starmer, for his leadership:

  • helping to restore the precious and historic relationship between our two parties;
  • leading the fight to rid Labour of anti-Jewish racism;
  • and returning Labour to its proper place: as the staunch friend and ally of the cause of Jewish self-determination which it has been for over 100 years.

Israel’s elections

The results of this month’s general election are deeply disappointing.

I am proud of Labor’s record in government and the progressive change we managed to deliver after so many years of neglect, mismanagement and cronyism by previous governments. We invested in public transport, in health, education and welfare, and in the fight against climate change. We tackled declining public security, particularly in Arab society. We put critical issues like violence against women, the gender pay gap, and social inequalities at the heart of policymaking.

But the centre-left bloc failed to prevent Netanyahu’s return to power, even though we fought him to a draw in the popular vote. As the only internally democratic and Zionist party in the new Knesset, Labor has its work cut out for it as we rebuild our camp.

The far right

For Israelis and our friends around the world, the inclusion of the far-right in the new government is both a frightening and shocking prospect.

We will continue to fight for our values – democracy, equality and the rule of law – from the opposition.

We will speak up for the independence of the judiciary and for equality before the law

We will oppose any assault on the rights of women, the LGBT community, and our Arab fellow citizens.

We will wage this battle because we know, and the Declaration of Independence states, that these are the foundations upon which our country was built.

We will wage it too with the confidence that the vast majority of Israelis did not vote for the Kahanists and their racist and homophobic allies.

Let’s not forget that, despite the rise in turnout, the far-right’s total share of the vote dropped compared with the 2021 election.

We in Israel are not alone in having to address the threat posed by the far-right.

So, we will look at the experiences of, and learn lessons from, our friends in Italy, Sweden, France and elsewhere who are similarly fighting these enemies of equality, freedom, and democracy.


To you, our friends in Britain, Europe and the United States, we have a simple message: stand with us and stand by us.

Israeli progressives – and the wider Israeli public which overwhelmingly rejected the far-right – need your support and solidarity as we seek to protect the soul of the Israeli nation from a pernicious ideology.

Women, the LGBT community and Israeli Arabs have had to fight for decades for every right we have.

We will do so again.

Two states

We will fight this government and its destructive agenda. But we will protect our progressive fight from being exploited by the BDS movement.

Let’s be clear: BDS promotes the destruction of Israel, does nothing to advance a two-state solution, and drives Israelis and Palestinians further apart.

It strengthens the Israeli nationalist right who use it as an excuse to avoid the difficult decisions and compromises which the search for peace entails.

BDS says the Jewish state is unique in its wickedness, and should be condemned and punished for it.

We will challenge this accusation at every turn.

Not simply because it is a terrible lie, often rooted in ancient Jew-hatred.

But also because it makes the vital work of peacemakers – Israelis and Palestinians, Egyptians and Jordanians, Emiratis, Bahrainis, Moroccans and Sudanis, and may more join us – so much harder.

Labor will always make the case for two states.

Without a two-state solution, we will become one state for two nations.

That will be the end of the State of Israel as we know it and love it.

And we won’t let that happen.

So, we urge the return to direct Israeli-Palestinian talks and reject the notion of “managing the conflict”.

We oppose all those who bring terror to the streets of Israel and incite and glorify violence.

And we applaud the bravery of the Iranian people – particularly the women of Iran – who are standing up to oppose those responsible for much of the bloodshed and hatred which afflicts the region: those who pull the strings and write the cheques in Tehran.



These are not easy times for progressives in Israel.

But I know that you all know exactly how that feels.

The relationship between our two parties is special.

It stretches back decades.

It is rooted in our shared history, common principles and long-standing friendships.

And its strength rests on the fact that we’ve stuck together and seen each other through many political ups and downs over the years.

But what defines us as progressives is not simply our belief in solidarity and internationalism, but also our optimism about the future.

Even as we face the challenge of rebuilding our party, I have confidence that the values which make Israel so special – the ones that you admire so much – will endure.