Meretz and Labor unite to launch Jerusalem city council election campaign
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On with activists 370
(photo credit: DANIELLE ZIRI)
"We’re here to support a free and secular Jerusalem," says Meretz head Zehava Gal-On
Hundreds of volunteers and members of the Meretz and Labor parties united Saturday night in Jerusalem to launch a joint city council campaign to engender a more pluralistic capital, which they said is being overshadowed by ultra- Orthodox and right-wing interests.The event, held at Wallenberg Social Club, attracted primarily young constituents and leaders of both parties who said they are eager to curtail the ongoing exodus of young, secular residents who feel alienated by an increasingly radicalized, right-wing majority.“For the first time since [former Jerusalem mayor] Teddy Kollek, all the secular and pluralistic [citizens] of Jerusalem are coming together to fight for their rights to live here as a free people,” said Meretz spokesperson Hamutal Cohen. “We want to keep young and secular people living here – and also fight for equality among all of the citizens of Jerusalem, including the Palestinians.”Cohen continued, “In the last few years we’ve seen a lot of people leave Jerusalem because of intolerance toward the secular and women. But it’s important to remember that Jerusalem is not just a city – it’s a microcosm of Israeli society.” “That’s why this election is so important,” she added.Indeed, Zehava Gal-On, head of Meretz city council, said the crux of the united campaign is to fight the “radicalization” of the city. “The city is becoming increasingly radicalized by the ultra-Orthodox and right-wing,” she said. “We’re here to support a free and secular Jerusalem.”Presently, of the 31 seats comprising the municipality’s city council, Meretz has three and Labor only one. Dror Morag, secretary general of Meretz, said he hoped the evening’s campaign launch and ongoing coalition will help level the playing field.“Tonight represents the desire for unity,” said Morag. “This is the only place we’re working with Labor. We’re doing this because our activists in the city have the same ideology – of a free and pluralistic capital.”“We see in the polls that the Left must be a strong and united party to fight the Right, because no matter who wins the [mayoral] election, the next mayor will be a right-winger,” he said. “So, we must have a strong presence in the city council to achieve our goals and have the mayor take our beliefs into consideration, as well as those of the Right and the ultra-Orthodox.”City elections will be held on October 22.