The new leader of Israel’s Labour Party, Merav Michaeli, has addressed questions about her wardrobe choices, revealing she opts for black because she wants people to listen to what she says, rather than to look at what she wears.
Michaeli, a feminist activist, journalist and former TV presenter, was voted in as the Labor leader in late January, in a move many said breathes new life into the failing party.
At the time, Michaeli’s former employer, the Haaretz newspaper, said that it was “the worst job in Israeli politics.” The party, commonly known as HaAvoda, dominated Israeli politics between 1948 and 1977 — and it was not expected to gain seats in the Knesset election held on March 23.
But under Michaeli, the party quickly regained some ground, with the latest polls indicating that it can hope for six or seven seats in the Israeli legislature.
Michaeli’s personality has also increased attention from voters and the media over the past month, with many wondering why the politician is always seen wearing black.
The 54-year-old responded to those questions in a TikTok video posted on Tuesday, saying it was a deliberate choice.
I want people to listen to what I have to say and notice what I do, rather than talk about what I wear. That’s why I wear all black.
Michaeli gave the example of male news anchors on TV, pointing out that nobody ever notices when they prefer a black suit over a grey one when they appear on air. “Who cares that I wear all black?!” she added in the video.
Indeed, a 1999 photo from a meeting with then Israeli PM, Ehud Barak, in which Michaeli wears white, goes some way toward proving her point.
As for her political message, Michaeli says her ultimate goal is to restore HaAvoda as the ruling party, which would in turn transform Israel into a social democratic welfare state.
She has accused Prime Minister Netanyahu of being someone who “thrives on dividing society” and says his right-wing Likud party must be removed from power.
While the Labor party joined the ruling coalition with Likud in 2019 – despite earlier promises that it would not by former leader Amir Peretz – Michaeli insisted she would still work against the PM. She was described by the Times of Israel as “a bizarre sort of one-woman opposition to the coalition from within” – but she withdrew HaAvoda from the unity government as soon as she took the reins.
The fourth election in two years was called in Israel after the ruling coalition between Netanyahu’s Likud and the Blue and White party of his main rival, Benny Gantz, fell apart before the new year as the sides were unable to find common ground on the budget.
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