Meretz UK is a membership led organisation that is part of the worldwide Meretz Movement. It represents a platform of Social Democracy, Civil Libertarianism, Green Environmental Issues, Progressive Labour Zionism, Peace and at times Secularism (although it defends rights of Jewish religious women for example).
The parent Meretz Party of Israel is an amalgamation of earlier movements, which include the former movements Ratz headed by Shulamit Aloni (Israeli Civil Rights Movement), MAPAM (United Workers Party), Shinui (Change Party), and the early 20th century Poale Zion (Workers of Zion). Some former and current members of Peace Now were and are also members of Meretz. It is affiliated with the HaShomer HaTzair movement.
In the UK, Meretz champions and propagates issues within the sphere of its platform. These concern Israel, Israel and Palestine, as well as the UK. They may be in the form of educational and cultural events, news-updates, educational visits, campaigning, or educational lessons such as in Modern Hebrew and Arabic. Meretz is the only movement that stands for a left wing platform as whole including all its issues from civil and human rights and peace to green politics and social justice. It is a progressive left and moderate Zionist organisation, accepting the right of a Jewish homeland called Israel, although its vision of that state is significantly different from the structure of Israel today, seeing Palestinian Israelis as equals, and supporting fully a Palestinian independent state.
Meretz Israel brought the first Palestinian Israeli woman Mrs. Hussniya Jabara into parliament in 1999 and Yossi Beilin, who was party leader 2004-8, was one of the key people involved in the Oslo negotiations and the Geneva Initiative. As of 2009, one the three Meretz parliamentarians, Nitzan Horowitz, was the only openly gay member of parliament MK in Israel. His two colleagues, also bastions of moral integrity in the Knesset, were the then-party leader Jumas Haim Oron and Ilan Gilon.
In the 2013 elections Meretz saw its number of Knesset representatives double to six. The team is led by the indomitable Zahava Gal-On, whose fearless battle for human rights and championing of the need for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute have won her respect even from political foes. Zahava’s five partners are Nitzan Horowitz, Ilan Gilon, Tamar Zandberg, academic and social protest activist, Issawi Freij, Palestinian Israeli lawyer from Kafr Qasm, and Michal Rozin, a campaigner for equality in employment and human rights who won the Israeli Democracy Institute’s Outstanding Parliamentarian Award for 2013.
Yossi Sarid, party leader 1996-2003 and leader of the opposition 2001-2003, is well known as a prolific columnist for the Israeli daily Ha’aretz. Special mention must go to Shulamit Aloni who helped found Meretz in 1992 and led the party to an impressive tally of 12 seats in that year’s election. Sadly she died in January 2014 and we ran a special tribute here.
Meretz UK also upkeeps a direct link with the Israeli party as well as with other movements around the world. Meretz UK is also part of the Socialist International. Meretz UK is a member of the Stop Climate Change Coalition and supports Fairtrade and green cleaning products.
A copy of the Meretz UK Constitution is available on request!