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August 2, 2015 / 17 Av, 5775
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Who is the Real Naftali Bennett?

Now, the NRP is getting nervous. They should have looked more carefully before signing the Ketuba, marriage contract with Bennett.
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There’s a phenomena I’ve noticed in both Israeli Knesset Elections and in our local elections for the Mazkirut (sort of town council) here in Shiloh.  The less known the candidate the more votes he or she gets.  I guess it’s because those people haven’t yet made enemies and their weaknesses are still unknown.  In the forty plus years I’ve been living in Israel, I’ve seen so many political parties and “leaders” come and go.

Many people, including a substantial number of English-speaking immigrants, regarded you as a breath of fresh air in Israeli politics. You promised to bridge the gap between all sectors of the population. You promised to honor the Torah and the world of Torah learning. You promised to strengthen the Jewish settlement in every corner of our beloved homeland….

Naftali Bennett is a wealthy man, having made his fortune by selling an innovative high tech company, the dream of many.  Many people had hoped that he’d be the dati le’umi (national religious) version of Jerusalem’s very competent and successful Nir Barkat.  But Bennett has been increasingly disappointing his voters. Arutz 7 has an op-ed/blog by Rabbi Lazer Brody that expresses the disappointment many of Bennett’s voters feel.

Naftali, where are those values in your pact with Yair Lapid? Why have you taken the cheap populist stance of drafting the Haredim, as if thousands of them aren’t already serving today? Why are you strengthening Lapid’s hand in limiting deferments to 2,000 Torah learners? … You could have been the individual that forced the IDF to be more sensitive to the needs of Haredi soldiers. You could have been the one who tripled the size of the Nahal Haredi and the IAF programs for Haredi hi-tech specialists. You could have been the one to make sure that a soldier doesn’t get kicked out of officer’s school for refusing to listen to women singing, or other ridiculous anti-religious excuses. You could also have been the hero that puts an end to the deligitimization of the holy Yeshivot and those who truly learn Torah… Naftali, talk is cheap; your “unbreachable pact” with Lapid shows exactly who you really are. We all make mistakes. We can all correct them, too. I urge you, for the sake of Torah and Eretz Yisrael, to reassess your position…  I implore you to rethink your position. Go out to the field and talk to Hashem for an hour – ask Him if you are doing His will. Seek His help and He’ll be glad to guide you. If you make your “unbreachable pact” with Hashem, you’re bound to succeed…

As my regular readers know well, I’m not an NRP-a.k.a. Bayit Yehudi voter and never was.  The main reason is that I don’t think a political parties should be rooted, labeled as religious or secular.  I prefer an inclusively Israeli-Jewish political party that recognizes the importance and centrality of Judaism to the State of Israel.

The stodgy old NRP-National Religious Party has been around since before the establishment of the State of Israel.  It had been loosing support over the past couple of decades.  The NRP has been looking for an attractive marketable head to bring it back to “its former glory.”  Bennett has been flitting around the Israeli political scene ever since he came back from his great financial success in the USA.  It had looked like a good match, and Bennett also seemed to be coated with teflon.  He had no big problem wiping away the complaints about himself.

His short time with Moetzet YESHA was easy to blame on Moetzet YESHA, and his departure from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s inner circle was even easier to blame on Sara Netanyahu.

Now, the NRP is getting nervous.  They should have looked more carefully before signing the Ketuba, marriage contract with Bennett.  Who are the two people closest to Bennett?  From what I have read, they are Bennett’s wife and his long-time sidekick Ayelet Shaked, who joined him as the token secular in the NRP.  Both of those women are secular.  In the Israeli political/ideological scene that puts them and therefore him in a very different mindset from your NRP-Bnai Akiva circle.

Just think about it…

P.S. This isn’t lashon haraa, evil speech.  Nothing I’ve written is secret, and these sorts of observations are permitted when it comes to public figures who are vying for national leadership.

About the Author: Batya Medad blogs at Shiloh Musings.

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