Meretz aims at the disco crowd

Party favors and disco lights accompanied the campaign unveiled at a Meretz Party convention Sunday. "We wanted something fresh, something surprising," said a Meretz spokesman. "We, as always, are not afraid to say who we are." The campaign song, which had been revised to a faster, up-tempo beat, rang well with the youthful crowd gathered, although some of the more veteran members complained that they could not understand the lyrics. "It sounds like rap," said one senior member. "I can't understand a word." Meretz also previewed a series of animated commercials, which attacked Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as following in his predecessors' footsteps, with no real agenda of his own. "So we already know what Sharon would do," said the advertisement campaign, featuring a parody of Olmert mimicking Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "But it's not enough to go forward [Kadima], we need to know where we are going." Although the new commercials were heavily critical of Olmert, the party's main slogan remained: Meretz is on the Left, but it puts people at the center. "We fight for every individual's rights, no matter who they are," said Tzvia Greenfield, the No. 6 candidate on the party list. "We don't need anyone, not even the rabbinical council, telling us what is good for us." Arab candidate Isaweiya Freij lashed out at the Arab parties, and called for Arab constituents to vote for Meretz. "These so-called politicians who represent you will not fight for your rights the way we will," he said. The loudest applause of the night was received by the party's youth division leader Dror Mizrahi, who addressed the dozens of youths dancing besides the stage. "We will carry the party," he promised the cheering youths. The convention ended with the party candidates gathered on stage. At an impulse, the youths ran up and began dancing with the candidates. "They need energy and we have it," said teenager Liron Cohen, who had surprised MK Ran Cohen by grabbing his arms to twirl him around. "The other parties pay teens to do this, we are just having fun and all the old people who don't like the new slogan can go eat prunes."