Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On with activists 370.
(photo credit: DANIELLE ZIRI)
Hundreds of volunteers and members of the Meretz and Labor parties united
Saturday night in Jerusalem to launch a joint city council campaign to engender
a more pluralistic capital, which they said is being overshadowed by ultra-
Orthodox and right-wing interests.
The event, held at Wallenberg Social
Club, attracted primarily young constituents and leaders of both parties who
said they are eager to curtail the ongoing exodus of young, secular residents
who feel alienated by an increasingly radicalized, right-wing
“For the first time since [former Jerusalem mayor] Teddy
Kollek, all the secular and pluralistic [citizens] of Jerusalem are coming
together to fight for their rights to live here as a free people,” said Meretz
spokesperson Hamutal Cohen. “We want to keep young and secular people living
here – and also fight for equality among all of the citizens of Jerusalem,
including the Palestinians.”
Cohen continued, “In the last few years
we’ve seen a lot of people leave Jerusalem because of intolerance toward the
secular and women. But it’s important to remember that Jerusalem is not just a
city – it’s a microcosm of Israeli society.”
“That’s why this election is
so important,” she added.
Indeed, Zehava Gal-On, head of Meretz city
council, said the crux of the united campaign is to fight the “radicalization”
of the city.
“The city is becoming increasingly radicalized by the
ultra-Orthodox and right-wing,” she said. “We’re here to support a free and
Presently, of the 31 seats comprising the
municipality’s city council, Meretz has three and Labor only one. Dror Morag,
secretary general of Meretz, said he hoped the evening’s campaign launch and
ongoing coalition will help level the playing field.
the desire for unity,” said Morag. “This is the only place we’re working with
Labor. We’re doing this because our activists in the city have the same ideology
– of a free and pluralistic capital.”
“We see in the polls that the Left
must be a strong and united party to fight the Right, because no matter who wins
the [mayoral] election, the next mayor will be a right-winger,” he said. “So, we
must have a strong presence in the city council to achieve our goals and have
the mayor take our beliefs into consideration, as well as those of the Right and
City elections will be held on October 22.