I truly believe that if they open their heart and open their mind to cooperate with other people that share the same values, then we can have a big party. Otherwise the party will continue with three mandates.
YM: Do you feel offended by their opposition or take it personal?
AS: No, this is politics. I don’t take it personal. As I told you I respect their view and it’s also a legitimate view.
YM: Given all of the above, why on earth are you getting involved davka in the Jewish Home Party? Do you really need the headache?!
AS: I’m doing this because I believe in it. I have many close friends who are religious Zionists and I think if we can be good friends, work together and serve in the army together, then there is no reason we should not be part of the same party. Moreover, since we believe in the same values and hold similar opinions then I think we should go fight for them in the Knesset.
YM: It’s better to do this via the Jewish Home Party than via the Likud?
AS: It’s a dilemma. I was a Likud member for many years. The problem in the Likud is that every leader takes the Likud to the left. It wasn’t easy for me to take this step.
YM: Okay, now that you’ve decided to go full steam ahead, what are the burning issues you’d like to address if and when you become a member of Knesset?
AS: The first item is to develop a strong Jewish identity in all of the Jews in Israel. This needs to be part of the education system, not just in the religious schools but in the school of my son as well. When Zevulun Hammer was the Minister of Education there was a specific department responsible for the Jewish identity in the schools. This needs to be reestablished.
I’m also already very involved, personally and via MyIsrael, in all the issues regarding the post-Zionist organizations and their attempt to change Israel from a Jewish democratic state to a “nation of all its citizens”. So if I become a member of Knesset I want to be involved in hasbara (public diplomacy) in Israel and around the world in order to expose the intentions of some of the extreme left-wing organizations and stop their penetration into the country. These organizations are involved in a wide range of anti-Israel activities such as the delegitimization of IDF soldiers, divestment of Israel around the world and aid for what they call African refugees even though most are in fact infiltrators.
Finally I’d like to encourage women to go out and work, to become involved in the business world, in public life or whatever they want. Of course I’m only talking about women that want to do this. I have friends who prefer to stay at home and raise their kids and I respect this. But regarding those who want to work and have a career we need to find ways to enable this.
YM: Even if you should succeed in addressing these issues, what other areas of Israeli society need to be changed in order for Israel to become more in line with the type of country you’d like it to be?
AS: First of all I want to say that I believe Israel is a miracle and I think we’re a very healthy country. We have a strong economy, a high level of mutual concern compared to other countries and overall there is a lot of good here.
The most important thing we need to do to make it even better is to reduce the socioeconomic gaps in the society. This needs to be done through the education system so that a child in the periphery will have the same opportunities like a child in my Tel Aviv neighborhood.
YM: Let’s change the subject to Naftali Bennett. After meeting a few years ago while working together in Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, when did the two of you decide to join forces in trying to make an impact in Israel?
AS: After both of us left Netanyahu’s office we tried to decide what is the best thing to do; to go back to the private sector or to remain in public life? Personally I strongly admire the private sector and I told Naftali many times that if you can establish a big company that can create thousands of jobs, do it. It’s one of the most important things in life to provide someone with a job.
About the Author: Yoel Meltzer is a freelance writer living in Jerusalem. He can be contacted via http://yoelmeltzer.com.
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