In an article quoted from below, Aluf Benn writes nostalgically of one-time Meretz leader Shulamit Aloni, the first of three equal leaders of Meretz when as a bloc of three political parties in 1992 (not yet coalesced into one), it was at the height of its influence with 10% of the seats in the Knesset. He also writes hopefully of Meretz today (but prior to Livni's reentry into politics):
"Missing Shulamit Aloni": The former Meretz Knesset member will celebrate her 84th birthday this week, giving us an opportunity to yearn for the left-wing leadership that was.
.... [Labor's Shelly] Yacimovich is charismatic and likes to engage in battle no less than Aloni. But their positions are completely different. The Labor leader doesn't object to the primacy of the army, the settlers and the ultra-Orthodox when it comes to dividing up the national pie. You won't find Yacimovich aggravating the religious, or criticizing the combat ethics of the Israel Defense Forces or land theft in the territories. She is willing for Meretz [to] have some of Labor's left-wing voters, as long as she is comfortably located in the political center.
The rightward shift of Yacimovich and Lapid, along with the dissolution of Kadima, will bring Meretz back some of the voters who abandoned it in the past decade, and it's looking like those extra votes will be enough to win Meretz more seats in the Knesset. But to what end? True, the Meretz of today is conveying the same messages as it did in Aloni's time, and it's hard to find flaws in their platform. Just the fire is missing. Meretz's "Leftists come home!" campaign seems more like an invitation to a party than an indication of a war for the home front.
The political circumstances of this election mean that Meretz has a rare chance to stand out from the pack that will be crowding around Netanyahu's expansive coalition after the election. That's what Aloni did in the Shamir era, with bells and whistles, and that's what she would be doing today if she were still involved in politics. And it's what Zahava Gal-On, the current Meretz leader, must do if she wants to create a genuine left that is not just alive, but kicking.