Meimad

(Dimension)
   Acronym for Tenua Mercazit Datit, "the Movement for the Religious Center." Founded in 1988 as a reaction to the sharp move to the political right of the National Religious Party (NRP), it is a dovish religious political party drawing much of its membership from those formerly affiliated with the NRP. Meimad seeks to promote dialogue and lessen polarization within Israeli society. On matters of peace and security, it follows the principle that the "good of the people and State of Israel takes precedence over political control over the entire Land of Israel." Meimad's founder is Rabbi Yehuda Amital, the prominent head of the Har Etzion yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut. It did not win any seats in the 1988 or 1992 Knesset elections, but Rabbi Amital agreed to serve as minister without portfolio in the government formed by Shimon Peres following the November 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Meimad did not submit a list of candidates for the 14th Knesset elections (1996), but it did publicly endorse the prime ministerial candidacy of Peres, in part to demonstrate that the "whole religious community is not on one side" of the political debate. It continues to work with other groups in Israel and the Diaspora toward the goal of achieving reconciliation both on the peace process and the contentious "Who Is a Jew" debate. Rabbi Amital and other Meimad activists have also participated in meetings with the religious leaders of the Muslim and Christian communities in Israel.
   In the spring of 1999, Meimad agreed to join with Labor and Gesher to form the One Israel coalition that won 26 seats in the 15th Knesset and formed the new government, under the leadership of Ehud Barak, with Meimad represented by its political leader, Rabbi Michael Melchior, who was appointed a minister in the prime minister's office with responsibility for Israel-Diaspora relations and social affairs. In 2003, Meimad once again joined Labor in contesting the election to the 16th Knesset but this time taking only 19 seats. On 10 January 2005, Meimad joined the governing coalition headed by Ariel Sharon, with Melchior serving as deputy education minister. In June 2005, Melchoir was appointed deputy minister in the prime minister's office, with responsibility for Diaspora affairs and social affairs. In 2006, Meimad again participated in a joint electoral coalition with Labor, winning 19 Knesset seats.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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