At a student meeting at Ben Gurion University in Be’er Sheva, Zionist Camp faction leader Avi Gabbay stated, “The left has forgotten what it means to be a Jew,” eliciting harsh responses from both fellow colleagues and members of the opposition.

Avi Gabbay

Avi Gabbay Photo Credit: Miriam Alster, FLASH90/Channel 2 News

“The left has forgotten what it means to be a Jew,” head of the Zionist Camp and the Israeli Labor Party, Avi Gabbay, said Monday evening at a meeting with students at Ben-Gurion University in Be’er Sheva, in response to a question asked about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s remarks in 1997 to the left.

“We are Jews, living in a Jewish state. I think one of the problems of the Labor Party is that it has distanced itself from that,” Gabbay said. “Netanyahu said in 1997 to Rabbi Kadouri, which the television caught, he told him: ‘The left has forgotten what it means to be a Jew.'” You know what the left did in response to this? They forgot what it means to be a Jew. It’s as if they say about us ‘We are now just liberals.’ It all begins with our Torah, our laws and the basic things. We should be proud of it.”

Gabbay’s comments prompted angry responses from some of his fellow party’s MKs and even from those of the opposition. “I am a leftist, I am a Jew, and I have no memory problems,” tweeted Knesset Member Mickey Rosenthal.

MK Ksenia Svetlova also responded to Gabbay’s remarks. “You can’t forget to be a Jew, just like that. For some reason, other peoples, and cursed enemies, never tried to deprive any of us of being Jews,” Svetlova wrote on her Facebook page. “No one has forgotten anything here. Liberal values do not contradict Jewish values.”

“No Avi, you are the one who has forgotten. There is no contradiction between Judaism and liberal values,” tweeted Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Gal-On. “Not all Jews are willing to bow down to the ultra-Orthodox or Zionist-religious version of Judaism. The left that founded your party knew that once.”

“Not only have we not forgotten what it is to be Jews, rather the contrary. In contrast to Orthodox Judaism, we include all the streams for anyone who chooses to be part of the Jewish community in his own way and faith,” added Meretz MK Michal Rozin.