Young Meretz activists pledge to revolutionize party

New campaign will encourage young people to join the party and use it to change everything they don’t like about Israeli politics.

January 2, 2012 04:06
2 minute read.
Youth faction of Meretz Party

Meretz youth 311. (photo credit: Courtesy Meretz)

Neither of the two main candidates in the February 7 Meretz leadership race – 55- year-old MK Ilan Gilon and 51-year-old MK Zehava Gal- On – is over the hill.

But a group of Meretz activists called a press conference in Tel Aviv on Sunday in which they called upon the 1,000 party council members to skip a generation and pass the party’s leadership torch directly from recently retired Meretz leader Haim Oron, 71, to 33-year-old Ori Ophir, who is a dark-horse candidate against Gal-On and Gilon.

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The activists announced a new campaign called “Joining politics with Meretz,” which means energy in Hebrew. The campaign will encourage young people to join the party and use it to change everything they don’t like about Israeli politics.

Ophir said it was important for young leftists to play an active role in politics to balance out young people on the extreme Right.

“I don’t know the hilltop youth or the price-tag terrorists, but I guarantee that they don’t give up their democratic right to vote,” Ophir said at the press conference. “Our first and primary challenges will be to persuade our friends to believe they can have an influence and help them realize that there is a point in voting for the Knesset.”

It is too late for the young activists to sign up new members to have an impact on the current race, because the voting body is set. But the activists said if they sign up hundreds of new members they will have a big impact on the party’s long-term future.

Meanwhile, the activists will be lobbying the council members, hoping to at least force a run-off race by preventing the leading candidate from obtaining the 40 percent of the vote necessary to avoid a second round of voting.

“We tell council members to vote for me because I can bring young, left-wing people into Meretz who have stayed out of politics because they consider all politicians corrupt,” Ophir said. “Gal-On and Gilon are good parliamentarians, but they can’t appeal to new people because they are part of the system.

My fight isn’t against Ilan or Zehava, but to make Meretz relevant again.”

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