Shinui will battle on

We remain the best choice for Israel's middle class in fighting corruption and religious coercion.

lapid 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
lapid 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Under the heading "Letter to a disappointed Shinui voter," Mati Golan wrote in his Globes column last week: "You, dear disappointed voter, have already forgotten what the situation was before the previous elections. The haredi parties in effect controlled the country, not only its budget, but even its diplomatic path. You thought then, and quite rightly so, that the ultra-Orthodox participation in the government was the most serious problem facing the country. "Shinui came with its message regarding the importance of unseating the haredim from power... and you responded... and thanks to your vote, Shinui received the strength that enabled it to oust the ultra-Orthodox from power, a historic achievement by any criterion." And he concludes: "Oh how wrong you are if you think that keeping the haredim out of the government is a sure thing." INDEED, had we adhered only to our agenda of fighting against religious coercion and in favor of the separation of synagogue and state, the introduction of civil marriage, and for the recruitment of yeshiva students into the IDF - that would have been sufficient. But reducing the influence of the ultra-Orthodox parties was not our only achievement in the outgoing Knesset. The economic reform, which saved Israel's economy, restored growth and lowered unemployment, was made possible solely thanks to the support provided by the Shinui Party when it served as the senior coalition partner. Ask former finance minister Binyamin Netanyahu - he'll tell you. And while it is true that the disengagement from Gaza came into being thanks to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, it was born only after I gave Sharon an ultimatum: Shinui would leave the government within three weeks if he did not propose a plan to advance the peace process. And even after we quit the government, we continued to vote from the opposition in favor of the disengagement because without us, Sharon would not have had enough votes - due to the mutiny in his own Likud Party. So, even if we were only partners to these two cardinal accomplishments, without us they would never have gotten off the drawing board. And indeed, we will continue to support the road map and dialogue with the Palestinians, on the condition that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas does his best to prevent further acts of terror. We realize that he cannot prevent individual terror attacks, but we continue to expect that he will make every effort to put an end to the terrorist infrastructure. We also demand a continuation of the economic reforms, because only a strong middle class creates surplus resources that enable the creation of new jobs that can save the weaker segments of society from hardship. On the social spectrum, we view ourselves as the outstanding representatives of the middle class - those who pay taxes every day and receive too little back from the state. AND LAST but not least: Shinui holds high the banner of the uncompromising battle against governmental corruption. Even as the prime minister's son, Omri, was convicted of criminal acts, even as the new leader of the Labor Party reportedly submitted thousands of forged membership forms on behalf of workers' committees in his party's membership drive, even as Likud minister Yisrael Katz and (now Kadima's) Tzahi Hanegbi were placed under police investigation for illegally appointing political cronies, our party maintained its high ethical standards. In fact, Shinui removed from its ranks former national infrastructure minister Yossi Paritzky who did not break any law but who undermined the ethical norms we stand for. And perhaps it is no coincidence that in a survey recently made public at the Sderot conference, the public chose Avraham Poraz, my colleague in Shinui, and myself as the cleanest Knesset members. Why vote for our party? Because a vote for Shinui is a vote for the rule of law. And with that, we will set out on our election campaign. The writer is chairman of the Shinui Party and a member of the Knesset.