The Idea of Voting Green Turns Brown Around the Edges

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This should have been the finest hour of the ecologically-oriented parties. In view of the sharp rise in environmental consciousness at home and abroad, the hopes of parliamentary seats for those manifestly green did not seem at all far-fetched. But both parties coming under this denominator - the Green party and Green Movement-Meimad - are now facing an election completely overtaken by security and economic agendas.

And if that wasn't enough, many potential voters simply have trouble distinguishing between the two so closely similar contenders. At this time, it seems that neither ticket is going to secure any seats at all.

The Greens, headed by Peer Visner, are scarred by defections by both senior members and local activists. They are trying to cast themselves as the "veteran" movement with a more venerable track record, which, they say, includes a successful struggle to maintain open areas and prevent environmental hazards. They had no qualms about linking their activity to the security agenda, issuing a slogan that "the IDF guards the borders, the Greens guard the land." They also joined their colleagues from the Green Movement this week in arguing that a new Israel Defense Forces base near Arad should not be occupied due to exposure to severe pollution.

Green Movement-Meimad is seeking comfort in the success it has had in simulated polls held in high schools and army preparatory seminars. A survey held in Jerusalem's Mahaneh Yehuda market indicated that the movement would not pass the electoral barrier. It relies heavily not only on the membership of veteran environmental activists, but also on the power base of Meimad, which enjoys considerable support among religious communities in Jerusalem.

"We made a very fast connection, ideologically speaking, said Professor Alon Tal, No. 3 on the movement's ticket, which is led by Meimad's MK Rabbi Michael Melchior. "We all see it as a long-term cooperation project, whatever happens at the polls," Tal said.