Social protest movement leader joins Labor Party
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Social protest movement leader joins Labor Party

Itzik Shmuli, head of the National Student Union, seeks Knesset seat

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

National Student Union chairman Itzik Shmuli, right, one of the leaders of the summer 2011 social justice protests, shakes hands with Shelly Yachimovich as he joins the Labor Party on October 17, 2012. (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
National Student Union chairman Itzik Shmuli, right, one of the leaders of the summer 2011 social justice protests, shakes hands with Shelly Yachimovich as he joins the Labor Party on October 17, 2012. (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

In a move that could have a significant influence on younger voters, a prominent leader of the social protest movement and National Student Union chairman, Itzik Shmuli, announced that he will be joining the Labor Party and running in its primaries ahead of the coming elections.

Shumli was one of the driving forces behind the grassroots movement that in 2011 flooded the streets of Tel Aviv with demonstrators calling for “social justice.” The announcement, which was long predicted by political pundits, came at a joint press conference on Wednesday with Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich.

“From my perspective, what started on the street has to end in the ballot box,” Shmuli said, adding that he never had any doubts about joining Labor, despite offers from other parties. “The biggest challenge facing me and my colleagues is to make sure that the clear agenda of the upcoming campaign is a socioeconomic agenda.”

By joining Labor Shumli is following on the heels of fellow activist Stav Shaffir, who announced last Friday that she is heading for the Knesset on the Labor ticket. The two former co-activists will now compete against each other in the Labor party primary elections, due to be held in late November.

The social protest movement, which championed a range of social issues from food prices to housing rights, struck a chord among many Israelis and led to demonstrations attended by hundreds of thousands of people.

Along with Shumli and Shaffir, journalist Miki Rosenthal announced that he, too, would be joining the Labor list for the early elections, scheduled for January 22, 2013.

Meanwhile, Boaz Nol, who spearheaded a campaign to introduce a universal national draft for all, and in particular including the ultra-Orthodox sector, said he would join Yair Lapid’s new Yesh Atid party. The national service debate was one of the prime reasons that Kadima entered a coalition with Likud earlier this year, and the reason the same coalition fell apart shortly afterwards.

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