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Israeli Lawmaker Angers Some with Reference to the “Stain of being on the Left”

When The Media Line’s founders broadcast their radio program to the US from Jerusalem shortly after the Gulf War in 1991, audience members offered to pay for the yellow legal pad on which program guest Nachman Shai was doodling during his appearance. Such was the celebrity of the Israeli army spokesman who rocketed to fame by keeping his countrymen calm as Saddam Hussein’s SCUDS fell around them. Now, some 27-years later, the daily newspaper Haaretz is reporting a Shai misstep that could jeopardize the now-lawmaker’s chance to run for mayor of Jerusalem. Originally a member of the right-wing Likud party, Shai was one of those who bolted to join the late Ariel Sharon’s breakaway, more-left-leaning Kadima in 2009 and the Labor party bloc known as Zionist Union when Kadima tanked. In an interview with the far-right newspaper Makor Rishon, Shai was asked how a secular Jew from a left-wing party could be elected in the capital with its minions of religious groups in the voter base. His reply that he would “remove the stain” – meaning the allegation that he’s a leftist – after its been pinned on him. Retribution was quick: even members of Shai’s own party have aired their rage publicly. For now, Shai might try counting Jerusalem voters who remember the Gen. Nachman Shai of the Gulf War era.

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