In 1973 Shulamit Aloni established the Ratz party. Ratz’s main issues were the separation of religion and state and human and civil rights. The party was also called the Movement for Civil Rights. Ratz acted as an independent party until 1992, except for a short period in which it joined Lova Eliav and another period in which it was a part of the Alignment faction (“HaMaarach”). In 1992 Ratz joined the parties Mapam and Shinui. And so Meretz was established. Since then, Meretz has been and still is today the party most important and most active regarding social issues in the Knesset. Knesset member Ran Cohen of Meretz led the efforts for the Public Housing law being passed by the Knesset. The most active Knesset member of the Finance Committee for many years was Haim “Jumes” Oron. The best Minister of Education Israel ever saw was Yossi Sarid, according to all of the mayors and municipal council heads, many of whom belong to other parties. Shulamit Aloni, the founder of Meretz, is one of the most impressive and principle-driven women the Israeli political system has known. In 2000 Aloni won the Israel Prize in the Contribution to Society category. The judges’ justification for her win was “her fight for human respect and for humans’ fundamental and natural rights, her acting as a voice for citizens, her fight for correcting injustices, and standing for equality of the different peoples and faiths in Israel and for mutual respect.”
The judges added that “many of the issues Aloni fought for bravely as a vanguard have become public domain, some of which are no longer disputed.”
Knesset member Zehava Galon, today the chairperson of Meretz, continues to follow the path of the movement’s founders in her unrelenting struggle for human and civil rights, freedom, equality, justice and peace. In the current Knesset, Gal-On has been named “the number one legislator for women.” The other Meretz Knesset members, Ilan Gilon, Esawi Freij, Michal Rosin and Tamar Zandberg, are active in many various fields, such as good governance and fighting corruption, legislation for fighting violence against women, gender representation, cancelling discrimination against the gay community, legalisation, minority rights, public medicine, and so on. A study performed by ‘The Social Guard’ determined that “Meretz acts to promote social legislation more than any other faction.”
Meretz views itself as a left-wing Israeli party that promotes human and civil rights, a social-democratic economic policy, a vehement opposition to continuing the occupation, and political moderation. Meretz believes in and promotes the values of equality, morality, justice and peace and is not ashamed to say, loud and clear, things that no other party dares to.