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.
Tamar Zandberg was elected party chair on 22 March 2018, winning 71 percent of votes cast. On 27 June 2019 the party’s 1,000-member convention voted for Nitzan Horowitz to replace Zandberg as party chair. Horowitz, a former MK, defeated Zandberg by a margin of 54 to 46 percent of votes cast. He is the first openly gay leader of an Israeli political party.
During her fifteen-month term as leader, Zandberg went on to retain her seat at the head of the Meretz list in general elections held on 9 April 2019. In those polls Meretz declined from five to four seats, though the new cohort – chosen from a list directly elected in open primaries by party members – was praised for its quality and diversity. Zandberg took over as party leader from Zehava Gal-On, who had served in that role since February 2012. The current Meretz MKs are: Zandberg, Ilan Gilon, Michal Rozin and Issawi Freij.
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. Besides this website, Meretz UK runs an active Facebook page which is updated daily with news from Israel, the Middle East and the UK; and listings of events, both our own or from others, especially ideologically aligned Jewish groups.
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. The Meretz movement in Israel and worldwide sees Palestinian Israelis as equals, and fully supports 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 was led by 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 were 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, was 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 and Progressive Alliance. 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!