Shulamit Aloni, Founder of Ratz & Meretz, Dies at 85

Shulamit Aloni, Founder of Ratz & Meretz, Dies at 85

Shulamit Aloni, 1928 – 2014, Z”L

We announce with sadness the passing of a dear friend.  Shulamit Aloni was a leading progressive politician, a member of the Knesset from 1965 until her retirement from party politics at the end of 1996, but she remained an outspoken advocate for progressive causes.  For example, she served on the board of the Israeli NGO, Yesh Din (There is Law), established in March 2005 to provide legal representation for Palestinians suffering from the arbitrary dictates of the occupation authorities.

Born in Tel Aviv, she was a member of the Hashomer Hatzair socialist Zionist youth movement and the Palmach.  Early in her career, she worked as an attorney and as the host of a radio show advocating for women’s rights and human rights in general.  
She was first elected as a Labor Member of Knesset in 1965, but split to form Ratz, the Citizens’ Rights Movement, in 1973.  In 1992, she led Ratz into the new bloc of three dovish parties (with Mapam and Shinui) known as Meretz, winning 12 seats at the head of its joint electoral list,  becoming Yitzhak Rabin’s main coalition partner.  She served in the Rabin cabinet as education minister and later as minister of communications, science and culture.
Shula had a special relationship with our organization.  It was as a result of meeting her nearly 25 years ago, that Harold Shapiro was inspired to help create the American Friends of CRM, a support group for her Ratz party, which merged in 1997 with Americans for Progressive Israel to form Meretz USA, now Partners for Progressive Israel.  She also gave of her time, more than once in her retirement, to meet with our visiting “Israel Symposium” delegations.
We encourage our readers to share reflections and remembrances about Shula, as comments here (but please understand that comments do not post immediately, as we check for spam and incivility). In the coming days, we may provide you with more on her momentous life and times.  In the meantime, you may wish to read the following articles, linked below, from Haaretz and JTA:  

Shulamit Aloni, former minister and staunch civil rights supporter, dies at 85; Aloni, an Israel Prize laureate, was born in Tel Aviv and first elected to Knesset in 1965.

Former Israeli education minister Shulamit Aloni dies Shulamit Aloni, a former Israeli minister and leader of the left-wing Meretz party, died. 

By | 2014-01-24T20:02:00-05:00 January 24th, 2014|Blog|4 Comments


  1. Lilly Rivlin January 25, 2014 at 6:07 am - Reply

    I got several emails re: Shulamit Aloni’s death: From Letty Cottin Pogrobin: She was the first Israeli whose politics and passion radicalized me way back in the early 1970s when she came to the Ms. magazine editorial board to talk to us about the Israel/Palestine conflict and the less-than-Utopian status of women in Israel. She was a truly unique human being — a powerful organizer, brilliant thinker, legislator, feminist, and peace activist. Unlike most people, she knew how to work both from the outside in, and from the inside out. We owe her big-time.

    I will ask my list to try out this blog as if you are attending a Memorial and you want to leave a note behind.

    My first memory of Shula was from a Jewish Women’s Conference so many years ago that i don’t remember if it was the 70’s or 80’s, I just remember that Esther Broner and I wanted to educate her about American Feminism. Imagine our Chutzpah. It was then that I realized how brilliant she was, and how steeped she was in the Jewish “classics”. She was a warrior. I hope others will share their memories of her.

  2. Laura Wharton January 25, 2014 at 7:14 am - Reply

    She was an amazing woman and a source of inspiration.

  3. KerenL January 26, 2014 at 10:27 am - Reply

    I am feeling sooooo sad indeed bereft. Ok Shula had not been seen around for a while but as we did not know her age we did not quite expect her demise. She was a remarkable woman and very tough. I have lovely memories of her.

  4. Alex Hershaft January 26, 2014 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    In 1961, I made aliyah to Israel and organized a demonstration against religious coercion. This led to the formation of the League for Abolition of Religious Coercion in Israel, which eventually fell apart with the nation’s preoccupation with the 1967 war. It was Shulamit Aloni and Ratz who took over the struggle against religious coercion in Israel after the war and has championed it ever since. Thank you, dear Shula.

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