Tomorrow a group of politicians, philosophers, artists and writers will be announcing the start of a new social-democratic party comprised of Meretz, former-Labor members, and many others (for some reason, I can’t find a report about it in the English press, so a Hebrew link is here). The Green Israel Movement was approached to join this coalition and overwhelmingly rejected the offer – but not without healthy debate. Here I’m posting a letter from Dr. Simon Vulfsons – a card-carrying member of the IGM and partner of Orna Vulfsons, our IGM coordinator in the Galilee – who argues that we ought not combine with an explicitly left-wing party, but rather retain our independence as a third-way place to unify people within the traditionally fractured Israeli political scene. Simon requested that I post it. With this letter, I open the blog to your opinions, debate and otherwise – so please feel free to comment – but please keep it courteous and to-the-point. Simon writes:
I’m at the moment traveling in India (far from Mumbai) and I would like to say a few words about today’s discussion. I have been following, with interest, the slow progress of our party over the past few months. We seem to be at a crossroads now and I understand how crucial the discussion of today is. We are faced with a serious decision about the future of the party- whether to submit to the demands of ‘real-politic’ or whether to stand for what we believe without necessarily being a small part of a larger movement.
The issues at stake, as far as I understand and as far as Orna has been able to explain to me are about whether we join Meretz, thus becoming part of a larger movement or whether we stand alone- with the stakes being that we might not make it and also there will be great confusion with the yerukim as opposed to our “Tnuah Yeruka”.
Adding up the pros and cons allow me to put things in perspective from as far away as India.
Pros for joining the Meretz block:
1) probably get 1-2 people elected to the Knesset- good real politic
2) possible future legislation in the next Knesset on a few different topics
3) possibly ensures that our representatives will be able to keep up ‘the good work’.
Cons for joining the Meretz block:
1) Complete loss of identity: We will be swallowed up in a party that is already an aging ‘has been’.
2) Alienation of everyone who isn’t left wing: This is definitely against the party’s early stand where it was clearly stated that we are the only future party that can unify left, right, secular, religious, Jew or non Jew. We will be now limiting ourselves to mainly left wing, Jewish, Ashkenazi Israelis- this is very shortsighted and smells of opportunism.
3) Destruction of the party in the long run: We can only really be a political power if we have a firm backbone and a unifying party platform. This move to join with any other party, be it Meretz or any other will destroy the unity. I, for example am very much a supporter of social and ecological reform. I am a great believer in our new Tenuah Yeruka Party. I am, however, not at all left wing and will find it impossible to support or belong to the party if it is identified with the left wing.
Therefore, friends, when the time comes for speeches and pathos, I would be very happy if you could read or convey my thought to the people present.
I beg you to look for the unifying and not the diversifying approach. Let us strive to use these times as a great opportunity and not as a times for political opportunism.
Dr. Simon Vulfsons