views updated


SHINUI , Israeli center-liberal party that underwent several transformations after it was founded in July 1974, following the Yom Kippur War, by Amnon *Rubinstein, Mordechai Wirshubski, and others. The new party was the outgrowth of several protest movements that had emerged against the background of the meḥdal ("failure") which had led to the 1973 War. The founders of the party believed that deep political, economic, and social defects in Israeli society threatened the state's security, moral steadfastness, and ability to function properly, and that these could not be repaired by means of public protest alone, or by means of activity within the existing parties.

The ideological platform of Shinui was drafted in the form of eight principles, which included willingness to negotiate with Israel's neighbors on the basis of territorial compromise; amendment of the electoral system to ensure the responsibility of the representatives to their voters as well as the democratization of the parties and legally sanctioned state supervision of their proper operation; securing basic civil rights, guaranteed in a written constitution; avoidance of government intervention in the economy to advance sectorial interests, and intervention only for national requirements, and for the existence of the welfare state; basing the state public administration on the principle of personal responsibility, and the appointment and promotion of employees only on the basis of merit; organization of the education system with the goal of equal opportunities for everyone and ensuring a proper education for everyone, suitable for a democratic society with developed technological and scientific standards; closing the social gaps through an appropriate improvement of the taxation system, the salary policy, demographic planning and the organization of state welfare services; a fundamental change in the standards of public life and the services granted the citizens, by means of education, the upholding of the law, and suitable legislation.

In 1975, Shinui considered uniting with the Civil Rights Movement (crm-Ratz), but the following year joined – on an individual basis – the new *Democratic Movement for Change (Dash), that received an impressive 15 seats in the elections to the Ninth Knesset in 1977. The dmc joined the government formed by Menaḥem *Begin despite Shinui's objection. Two days before the signing of the Camp David Accords in September 1978, the dmc disintegrated, and seven of its members established a parliamentary group by the name of Ha-Tenu'ah le-Shinui ve-Yozmah (the Movement for Change and Initiative). By July 1980 five members were left in the group, which changed its name to Shinui – The Center Party. In the elections to the Tenth Knesset in 1981 Shinui gained two seats, and in the elections to the Eleventh Knesset in 1984 – three seats. Shinui joined the National Unity Government formed in 1984, and Rubinstein was appointed minister of communications. In the course of the Eleventh Knesset Wirshubski left Shinui and joined the crm, while Rubinstein resigned from the government in May 1987, because he felt that the government was not doing enough to advance peace, and because of the return of a member of Shas to the government. Shinui was then involved in an attempt at the establishment of a new Center movement with the Independent Liberal Party and the Liberal Center, but this attempt failed. Shinui received two seats in the Twelfth Knesset, and remained in opposition. Prior to the elections to the Thirteenth Knesset in 1992 it created a single parliamentary group and election list with the crm and *Mapam, called *Meretz. Meretz won 12 seats in the elections, of which Shinui received two. Meretz joined the government formed by Yitzhak *Rabin, and Rubinstein was at first appointed minister of energy and infrastructures, and then, in June 1993, minister of education, culture and sports in place of Shulamit *Aloni. In the elections to the Fourteenth Knesset, Shinui once again received two seats of the 10 won by Meretz. After Meretz registered as a party, one of the two members of Shinui – Avraham Poraz – chose to remain outside the new party, and in March 1999 formed an independent parliamentary group together with Eliezer Sandberg, who had broken off from *Tzomet, which assumed the name of Shinui. In 1999, before the elections to the Fifteenth Knesset, Prof. Shalom Reichman, a staunch advocate of a constitution for Israel and founder and president of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliyyah, who was head of the Shinui presidium but was not interested in running for the Knesset, managed to convince journalist Yosef (Tomi) *Lapid to assume the political leadership of the party. Shinui, in its new incarnation, was now identified with efforts to reduce the flow of public funds to the religious parties and to enlist religious youths for military service. Shinui gained 6 seats in the Fifteenth Knesset, and chose to remain in opposition. In the elections to the Sixteenth Knesset, it won an impressive 15 seats. Most of its 15 members were new faces in the Knesset, who came from the professions and academia. Its declared goal after the elections was to convince the *Likud, under the leadership of Ariel *Sharon, to form a secular government with Shinui and the *Israel Labor Party. But when Labor leader Amram Mitzna resisted entering such a government, Shinui entered the new government in a coalition that also included the *National Religious Party and the National Union, with Lapid serving as minister of justice, Poraz as minister of the interior, Joseph Paritzky as minister of national infrastructures, and Yehudit Na'ot as minister of the environment. However, in December 2004, not long after Paritzky was replaced after being involved in a political scandal and Na'ot resigned after becoming fatally ill, Shinui left the coalition. The reason for its decision to leave the government was its objection to the decision to add more funding to the religious parties in the 2005 budget. Paritzky finally received the status of a parliamentary group in May 2005, and Shinui remained in opposition with 14 seats.

Intraparty strife in January 2006 following the party primary in which Lapid, though winning, faced a challenge to his leadership and Avraham Poraz was ousted from the number two position, led to Lapid and Poraz leaving the party. The ensuing split created two factions and Shinui's status was seriously undermined. The party won no seats in the Knesset election of March 2006.

[Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)]