Smooth Campaign for New Meretz

Unlike its competitor on the left, Labor, Meretz has sailed through this year's electoral campaign. Chairman Haim Oron surrounded himself with an impressive array of public servants, intellectuals and cultural figures willing to sign on to the enlarged bloc led by his party.

Meretz was founded in 1992 as a coalition of three left-wing Zionist parties: Ratz, Mapam and Shinui. Its platform focuses on social democracy and green issues.

The left's "big bang," as some have called the New Movement, has pulled in a galaxy of stars including former MK Uzi Baram, novelist Amos Oz and television journalist Nitzan Horowitz.

Last month's military operation in Gaza, however, nearly brought the new bloc's growth to a halt. At first it supported the operation, then issued urgent calls for a cease-fire, disillusioning vast swathes of its electorate, who had expected it to primarily tread its familiar territory of green and cultural issues.

The campaign, which originally had been intended to focus on air pollution and gay and disabled rights, had been forced to articulate a coherent political worldview.

Oron has plunged headfirst into the effort, his image shown casting a Sharonesque glare skyward accompanied by the motto, which could be applied to any other party, "We will not compromise."

But the polls indicate they will. Their dream of securing a double-digit presence in the Knesset will have to be deferred, and they will probably have to be content with about seven seats.