Former Meretz Knesset Member Professor Uzi Even, Israel’s first homosexual MK, recently announced that he is leaving Meretz and joining the Labor Party.
According to Even, he felt comfortable to join Labor after the party promised equality to all citizens in its election manifesto.
“As a community, it is important that we be involved in a major party,” he said.
Nevertheless, he evokes Meretz’ contribution to the community: “We will never forget that it was the first party to care for the community.”
Also Itai Pinkas, one of the homosexual community leaders and a member of the Tel Aviv Municipality City Council, recently announced that he was leaving Meretz and joining Labor.
Professor Even, despite not being politically active lately, has been a leading figure in the community for the past 15 years.
His achievements include changing the General Staff’s commands after a 1993 Knesset appearance, banning discrimination in the workplace, and especially promoting the gay community's agenda in the public discourse.
Before the last elections, Even thought about leaving Meretz after failing to qualify for a Knesset seat, but only today did he decide to join Labor partly because of the party’s program and partly because of Pinkas’ decision.
As someone who is identified with the Meretz party, how do you feel about leaving the party that was your home?
“It is true that it’s not easy to leave the party I was in for years, but it was a necessary move. You see, Meretz’s situation is very similar to Labor’s, and I have been thinking for a long time that these parties should unite. Unfortunately this never materialized, and now, after Amir Peretz was elected to lead the Labor Party, it seems time has come for me to join them.”
“It's a combination of many things. First of all, I suffered a personal disappointment with Meretz. Although I served as an MK, I was pushed to number 8 on the party’s list (in the previous elections), and then with all the predetermined spots on the list I was pushed to number 15, which was not a realistic place. This caused me to suffer personal frustration. I invested a lot of effort, I had hoped to do things and I thought I wasn’t the worst person in Meretz.”
Amir Peretz seems capable of promoting the community’s issues in Labor?
“Peretz brought a new atmosphere to Labor, politically and socially. I call on those who find this suitable to join Labor. If you read the first clause of the Labor party, you see he assures our rights. He supports the institutionalization of free partnership. It is an important achievement for us that the Labor Party recognizes such a clause and all this would not have been possible without the defection of Meretz activists to Labor.
"Itai Pinkas and others spoke to Amir Peretz, he asked if I would join and gave his blessing to the move. I think that as a bigger party, Labor is a better platform for passing laws for the benefit of the community.”
And now you are preparing to become a political activist with Labor?
“I have experience and social status, and if they ask I will do so. At the moment, Itai Pinkas is leading the process and I will help him.”
And what are the plans for the future?
“Do you know what my wet dream is? To have gay representation in Shas. Does it sound unrealistic? But if I would have told you years ago that we will be represented in Labor it would have also sounded unrealistic, right?”