Labor takes campaign to the religious

Hundreds pack J'lem's Great Synagogue to hear Labor candidates.

peretz to labor mtg 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
peretz to labor mtg 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The customary Labor Party jingle was replaced with rabbinical chanting when chairman Amir Peretz held an election drive to raise support among the religious population Sunday night in Jerusalem. Hundreds packed the conference center of the Great Synagogue as candidates Shelly Yacimovich, Ami Ayalon, MK Eitan Cabel, MK Matan Vilna'i, and MK Michael Melchoir joined Peretz in promising religious constituents that their beliefs were included in the party's platform.
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"The Meimad Party is not an addition to the Labor Party; it is an instrumental part of us," Peretz said. "I want a country of social piety, not of social handouts." Vilna'i told the audience that, although Meimad did not add a large number of mandates to the Labor Party, they remained committed to the union of the two. "We give you weight, more than the number of votes you bring in, because of the spirit that you bring to the party," said Vilna'i. Rabbi Yehuda Amital, the founder of Meimad, received a standing ovation from the audience when he entered the event. "I was almost one of Rabbi Amital's students," said Cabel. "Instead I went a different way, and now we meet here again." The candidates ended the conference by launching an attack on Kadima. "Kadima is like something you buy at bulk, on discount, and then discover it's not something you really need," said Peretz, promising the audience that on Monday he would sign a contract with the citizens of Israel outlining what he hoped to accomplish as their leader.