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
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.
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
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.”