Yifat Solel: Meretz Activist for Reform & Peace

Yifat Solel: Meretz Activist for Reform & Peace

On the evening of Tuesday, July 9, Partners for Progressive Israel hosted a meeting with an up-and-coming young leader of Meretz, Yifat Solel, at the New York home of Harold & Myra Shapiro.  By profession, Ms. Solel is a lawyer who specializes in civil rights & social rights issues. She co-chairs the party’s “Forum against the Occupation” and was #9 on the party’s Knesset electoral slate.  Solel was a leader in Israel’s social justice protests of 2011, and, in the role of chair of “The Cooperatives Alliance for Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice,” continues to be engaged with the new cooperative ventures that have emerged from these protests. She is currently in the US on a visit sponsored by the US State Department.

In her discussion, she criticized Yair Lapid, the head of the new “Yesh Atid” (There is a Future) party, which benefited somewhat from the 2011 social protest movement of which she was a part.  But instead of a true social reform agenda, Lapid is pursuing “neo-liberal” policies as Benjamin Netanyahu’s finance minister: regressive sales taxes have gone up twice and corporate taxes have been reduced.  In particular, she mentioned a near give-away to private companies for the exploitation of Israel’s new off-shore natural gas fields; she’s been campaigning to raise the rate of royalties due the government.

She continues the impetus of the social protest movement by working to promote cooperative economic alternatives to private and corporate ownership.  Some co-op businesses have been established, including a pub and vegan restaurant on the very street where the first co-op was established in what was then Palestine, in Tel Aviv in 1916.  And activists are starting a co-op bank.

She has also accused the national Histadrut leadership of not fully supporting workers’ interests.  In this connection, she recounts the social workers’ strike of three years ago, at a time that government social services were being privatized.  The social workers’ union went on strike for a collective bargaining agreement that would protect the salaries & benefits of workers in programs that were newly privatized or under NGOs.  Solel indicates that 80% of social work graduates will now work in programs that are no longer run by the government or municipalities, and are therefore provided lower wages and benefits.  She accuses the Histadrut of selling out the social workers by forcing them to sign an agreement that builds in this differential disadvantage for most social service workers.

As for the peace issue, Solel is fully aware of the linkage between the ongoing conflict and Israel’s social ills: i.e., the importance of ending the subsidies to the settlements and other expenditures involved in continuing the occupation.  This open recognition was a major difference that Meretz had with the way in which Labor campaigned in the last election.  Solel indicates that Meretz and the left must persuade Israelis that the conflict is “not a zero-sum game,” that both sides will benefit from a peaceful resolution.  

By | 2013-07-25T14:14:00-04:00 July 25th, 2013|Blog|2 Comments


  1. bronxite10 July 25, 2013 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    Of course both sides will benefit from peace. No one needs to be convinced of that. What both sides need to be convinced of is that it can be done honorably and safety and security for each side.

  2. Werner Cohn August 1, 2013 at 10:11 pm - Reply

    so meretz has a forum against the occupation. does it also have a forum against antisemitic incitement ? no, I didn’t think so. as long as meretz sees the root of all evil in the Jewish population of Israel, it will never get more than five percent of that Jewish vote. the technical term for these five percenters is mishugayim

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