TEL AVIV – Former prime minister Ehud Barak has come under fire from both Israelis and Americans on both sides of the political aisle for the choice of name for his newly formed Israel Democratic Party.
Democrats Abroad Israel chairwoman Heather Stone on Saturday lambasted the name as “misleading,” and noted that the “Democrats Abroad has a country committee in Israel and … is an arm of the Democratic Party.”
The chairman of Republicans Overseas Israel (ROI) also slammed the name for its resemblance to the rival American party which, he claimed, no longer has Israel’s best interests at heart.
“Why Ehud Barak would want to name his new party after this bunch of losers is beyond me,” Marc Zell wrote on Twitter. “I can’t figure out why Barak would want to identify with a party that has gone off the rails, especially when it concerns Israel and the Jewish People.”
Zell did add, however, that “the Israeli party will have more common sense than its American namesake.”
— Marc Zell (@GOPIsrael) July 7, 2019
He later seemed to walk back his comments by tweeting: “To be clear, the GOP/ROI didn’t criticize the name. We merely thought it odd that a fledgling Israeli party would choose a name associated with a growing wave of anti-Israel & anti-Semitic sentiment. It’s the Dems who are upset.”
Meanwhile, Israeli politicians across the political spectrum took Barak to task over the name.
Former Labor MK Eitan Cabel said the party name is a misnomer since it is far from democratic.
“It is a party where the decisions are made by one man,” Cabel said. “He always thought of himself in grandiose terms without any content behind him.”
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein echoed the sentiment, commenting on Twitter that “democracy begins with democratic procedure within the party.”
“You do not have to learn from the Likud alone; you can learn from the party you left and destroyed too. Remember?” he added, referencing Barak’s former position as head of the Labor party.
Yair Lapid of the Blue and White opposition party mocked Barak’s name choice with a Shakespeare quote: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose: By any other name would smell as sweet.”
Responding to critics, Barak told the KAN public radio network that his party’s “democratic institutions” would be ready for the September 17 election.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, said that the name choice was drawing far too much attention to Barak, who is “a fringe candidate who had no chance.”
A poll published Friday saw Barak’s party earning four Knesset seats out of 120.