Bible Lands Museum.
(photo credit: OREN ROZEN / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
The dovish religious-Zionist Meimad party was relaunched on Thursday evening at a meeting at Jerusalem’s Bible Lands Museum.
Meimad, which is a Hebrew acronym for Jewish state democratic state, was founded 30 years ago by Har Etzion yeshiva head Rabbi Yehuda Amital, who briefly served as a minister in then-prime minister Shimon Peres’s cabinet from 1995 to 1996.
The party was represented in the Knesset by its leader, Rabbi Michael Melchior, from 1999 to 2009, when it ran with the Labor Party, and before that with Labor’s One Israel alliance.
Melchior served as minister of social and Diaspora affairs, deputy foreign minister and deputy education minister.
Now the party intends to run in the next election, which – barring unforeseen circumstances – will take place in 2019.
The Jerusalem meeting was the first of dozens that will be held all over the country.
“Meimad has a unique voice that has been lacking from the Knesset,” Melchior said. “We want everyone to have a part in Judaism, peace, a just society and a good environment.
There is no monopoly on Judaism.
Peace does not only belong to the secular Left. Everyone should take responsibility for it.
These messages of how we live all stem from us being not just a democratic state but also a Jewish state.”
The party also has a message on the economy of pursuing social justice and providing more services from the government, even if it means raising taxes.
Melchior, 64, does not intend to run for Knesset because he wants a new generation to take over the party. Its new leader and candidates will be chosen by the party’s members after a nationwide membership drive.
A mix of the party’s founders, including Dr. Ariel Picard of the Shalom Hartman Institute and young leaders, like Meitarim education system director-general Ranit Budaie-Hyman, spoke at Thursday’s event. Veteran philosopher Prof. Moshe Halbertal spoke via satellite from abroad.
Asked how the party would handle the rise in the electoral threshold, Melchior said the party had no intention of running on its own and would join together with another party ahead of the election.
“Part of our ideology is that we have our party and our beliefs, but we want to join other forces that are close to us,” Melchior said. “Since we put out word we were reviving Meimad, we have been approached by different parties. We are open to serious offers that would enable us to preserve our autonomy as we did before when we were in the Knesset.”
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