Meretz Should Join Herzog-Livni Bloc

The combination would be worth far more than the sum of its parts. Together, this bloc could unseat Netanyahu and form the next government.

Uri Avnery
Uri Avnery
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Meretz logo
Uri Avnery
Uri Avnery

I am not a member of Meretz. But I voted for Meretz in the last election, because it was the party that most closely represented my views. That’s why I’m allowing myself to do something that borders on chutzpah: I’m calling on Meretz to join the bloc of parties that could give voters a realistic alternative to Benjamin Netanyahu when they head to the polls in March.

Meretz is a pure party, and its natural inclination is to preserve that purity. Yet here I am, asking it to give that up and compromise on a lot of things. Why?

Because I see before me a country in a state of emergency, a country in which democracy is dying, human rights are being trampled upon and social justice is disappearing. A country in which the settlers and their emissaries are destroying everything good. A country that is hurtling toward the abyss, an abyss from which there is no return.

The coming election must halt this mad gallop toward the crazed right and restore a measure of sanity to the state. Only after we achieve this can we devote ourselves to the biggest problem of all: making peace.

I could compile a list of all the faults of Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, separately and together, from now until the end of time. They are not my dream team. But they did a great thing; their merger roused the center-left from a coma that had looked terminal. It restored hope for possible change. The public understands that a radical right-wing government is not an inevitable fate, as was thought only recently. The public understands that it has the power to defeat Netanyahu.

A political base was formed that can be built upon. For that, Herzog and Livni deserve our heartfelt thanks. But we must not stop here. The momentum that was created must continue to gather steam. The next natural partners are Meretz and Yesh Atid.

Yair Lapid has nothing to lose. If he runs alone, he will suffer a humiliating blow. But in a large bloc, there is no telling how strong he can be. His honor will be saved and his future assured. Meretz has more of a problem. But Zahava Gal-On and her colleagues must consider whether they will run as a small party or be part of a large camp. If Meretz remains separate, it will retain its strength, and may even add a seat or two. But so what? How will that keep us from sinking into oblivion?

If Yesh Atid and Meretz both help form a large bloc, they will balance each other out in the public’s opinion. This united camp will not look too leftist or too rightist. After all, in the United States the equivalents of all these parties are found in one party, the Democratic Party, and there is still room at either end.

And what about Moshe Kahlon? Under such circumstances, it would be worth it for him to join, too. Faced with a united centrist bloc, whose popularity will be overwhelming, the chances for an independent party to succeed are reduced. Like Lapid, Kahlon might also conclude that it’s worth it for him to join the large bloc.

What will this large bloc achieve? True, there are unions whose costs exceed their benefits, because they lose votes at the margins, and there are combinations that are worth far more than the sum of their parts. I am completely convinced that in this instance, the latter is the case. The public is yearning for something new, big and powerful.

It’s better to hunt a bear together than to be torn apart by it separately, one after the other. The emergence of such a bloc will change all the rules. Hordes of voters who have lost hope, who say “what difference will it make?” and may stay home, will get off their easy chairs and vote. That’s the critical mass that will change the balance. Suddenly it will emerge that the right is a minority. This bloc, together with the ultra-Orthodox and the Arabs, will be able to form the next government.

It will not be a mere upset. It will be a revolution. Fomenting revolution requires enthusiasm and self-confidence. It requires faith that we can save the state that we founded. Pessimists don’t make history.

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