For many months we continued debating this subject until Naftali decided that he wanted to devote his life to the people of Israel and that the best way to do this is through the public sector. So he went to work with the Yesha Council and I returned to the private sector.
It was at this time, on the side of our new jobs, that we jointly created together the MyIsrael national movement.
YM: What exactly is the MyIsrael movement?
AS: It’s a national movement of about 100,000 people that are mainly right-wing and share the same values and ideas. There are so many people that want to be involved and give of themselves for various causes yet they don’t want to stop their lives. So MyIsrael is a way, via the internet and Facebook, to activate these people for certain issues. In many ways we’re like a large lobby group. For instance we’ve pressured Knesset members to pass certain laws, we fought a campaign against Galei Tzahal (Israel Army Radio) and their predominately left-leaning agenda in order to have more balance in their programs and we stopped some boycotts of Israel. Believe me, when 20,000 emails are sent to someone overseas who wants to boycott Israel he’s going to think twice.
YM: In addition to you and Naftali, who are the other members of your group that are trying to get in to the Jewish Home Party?
AS: First of all there is Rabbi Ronsky, the former chief rabbi of the IDF. He actually hasn’t made up his mind if he wants to be a candidate but he’s very involved with us. He shares the same views as us and believes it’s very important that religious and non-religious work together. Naftali introduced him to me a few months ago and he’s actually the one who pushed me into this. We’ve become very close and the three of us, Naftali, Rabbi Ronsky and myself, speak every day.
In addition there is Moti Yogev, the former Secretary General of Bnei Akiva, and Dr Yehuda David, the Israeli physician who fought for the truth in the Mohammed al-Dura story.
Of course there is also current MK Uri Orbach who was very instrumental in convincing Naftali to get involved and run for the chairman of the party.
YM: Regarding Rabbi Ronsky, is he a sort of spiritual advisor providing guidance to you and Naftali?
AS: He’s much more than just spiritual. He’s working very hard, going to chugei bayit (parlor meetings), giving interviews and basically doing everything that I do. Personally I really admire him.
YM: What does he have to say about all the controversy regarding your candidacy? Has he spoken to you about it?
AS: Sure, he’s spoken to me many times about the issue and he encouraged me to run in the primaries. He’s so against the splitting up into separate sectors.
YM: What would happen if you receive a top spot in the primaries but Naftali loses in his bid to become the chairman of the party? Do you think the party has a chance of making a real impact without Naftali as the leader?
AS: No, I don’t think so. Without Naftali we’ll probably just get a few mandates. Although personally I’ll still run it would be very sad if Naftali is not with us.
YM: On a technical note, what happens to the two candidates (out of a total of three – Naftali Bennett, Zevulun Orlev, Daniel Hershkowitz) who lose in the election for the party chairman? Are they guaranteed a spot in the party or are they out of for good?
AS: They’re not guaranteed a spot but they can run in the list since the election for the head of the party is one week before the election for the rest of the list. Therefore if someone wins by a big margin and there is no need for a second round, then the two that lose can run in the list with everyone else. By the way, Orlev and Hershkowitz said that if they lose the election for the head of the party they’re not going to run in the list.
YM: I recently read that an internal committee of the Jewish Home Party decided to lower the amount of candidates that voters can choose in the primaries from five to three. In comparison to the Likud primaries of 2008 where members were allowed to choose 12 candidates for a general list as well as a few more for regional spots and new immigrants, these numbers are ridiculously low. They’re also lower than the 2008 Labor primaries where members chose between 5-8 candidates for a national list.
About the Author: Yoel Meltzer is a freelance writer living in Jerusalem. He can be contacted via http://yoelmeltzer.com.
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