At this juncture, two and a half weeks before the coming elections for the 19th Knesset, the big surprise – unless we due for some shocking turn of events – is going to be the success of the Jewish Home list led by Naftali Bennett. All the polls are promising the Jewish Home will triple its power, and some optimists are predicting an even bigger victory.
In any event, this will be the first time that the Jewish Home party, built on the ruins of the old NRP, has turned from a purely sectoral party into a wide-ranging Israeli party supported by voters who are religious and secular, Ashkenazi and Sephardi Haredim (it’s a fact!), young people voting for the first time and older people, men and women.
Now, it’s true that King Ahab of Israel has cautioned: “One who puts on his armor [before the battle] should not boast like one who takes it off [after the victory].” (Kings I 20:11) Perhaps for that reason, or perhaps because he wants to stop Jewish Home activists from resting on their laurels, Naftali Bennett has been trying, in meetings with supporters and on other occasions, to cool down the excitement and to lower expectations. He speaks “only” about 12 seats, which is also, you’ll have to admit, a nice figure compared to where he started.
The big questions, of course, are where does the Jewish Home get its new votes? Where do these 7 to 10 additional seats that are adding up in the polls come from? And who are the Jewish Home’s new voters?
We’ll start with the most natural pool of voters: the National Religious public that in the past rejected the politics of both the NRP and the National Union, deserting both of their organic parties to roam instead in foreign lands. The stale image that stuck to the brand NRP also did it in. The National Religious are used to joking that there’s no such thing as a guy under 40 wearing a knitted yarmulke who’s ever voted NRP. Young people who graduated from the national-religious school system—the NRP’s baby—studied in Hesder yeshivas—also cultivated by the NRP—and went to college in Bar Ilan—once again, a creation of the NRP, for some reason have been opting in their later years to kick the NRP down, ignoring the most basic obligation of gratitude. Let’s not go into a long discussion of their reasons for the moment.
THE RIGHT OF RETURN
The enormous pool of voters whose ingestion and birth took place inside Religious Zionism has been scattered in the wind. It landed in the Likud, in Shas, in Labor, in Torah Judaism and in Kadima. Their slogan used to be: anything but the NRP. The image—not necessarily true—of their organic party as an assembly of hacks seeking patronage jobs has kept them away from their natural home.
Now they’re coming back. They utilize their right of return. They’re returning from the Likud, following a list of deep disappointments:
Netanyahu’s commitment to the concept of “two states for two nations,” and his insistence on holding on to it even nowadays (never mind MK Hotoveli’s utterly nonsensical claim this week that Netanyahu’s 2-state slogan was only a tactical move).
Netanyahu’s housing construction freeze in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, reminiscent of the British “White Paper” of 1939, a decree no leftist government had ever imposed.
The indifferent, even criminal attitude regarding to infiltration by 60 thousand Muslim illegals from the Sudan and Eritrea, most of whom are criminals and certainly not refugees.
The torpedoing of the Certification Law proposed by MK Zevulun Orlev, which would have prevented the needless destruction in Migron, Ulpana Hill, and other places.
The bowing before the corrupt “Cult of Justice,” whose nine high priests on the Supreme Court only this week empowered terror-supporter Haneen Zoabi to run for the Knesset, depriving the State of Israel of its right to defend itself against the fifth column within.
Had the Likudniks minded public opinion, they would have taken more seriously the findings of the Ma’agar Mochot survey from November, 2011, which reported that a huge majority, 75 percent of the public, thinks the high court has a leftist bias. Leftist? They’re leftier than leftists. If only the Likudniks were loyal to their voters… How did it happen that out of the 55 thousand attorneys practicing law in Israel, only the anti-nationalist Yehuda Weinstein was picked for the job of Attorney General? Have they not yet internalize the idea that justice must also be seen?
And if that’s not enough, now we’ve had the leaks about the plan to appoint Ehud Barak—the number 1 abuser of Jewish settlers—as defense minister in the next government, possibly seated next to Shelly, Tzipi and Yair, who would all be dictating a strong steerage to the left, to the point where Disengagement II is now a realistic possibility in Judea and Samaria.
With such heavy concerns, is it any wonder the lost children of NRP are returning home?
The ever more left leaning Labor party is also providing those lost children a good reason to come home, despite all of Shelly Yachimovich’s efforts to dialogue with the knitted yarmulke public. Yachimovich can hug the knitted yarmulke folks from now until next Tuesday – it won’t make them ignore the presence of several shady characters on the Labor list, like Meirav Michaeli (4th), a foundation of the delirious left, granddaughter of Israel Kastner who was accused of being a Nazi collaborator (the high court overturned his conviction) – the same Meirav Michaeli who supported the elimination of the Jewish State in favor of a state belonging to all its citizens, a la Haneen Zoabi – and called on Israeli mothers to stop their sons from enlisting in the IDF.
But Michaeli is not alone, hers is not just a one-time glitch. Anyone voting Labor will also send Stav Shafir (8th) into the Knesset, friend of a myriad Muslim infiltrators from the Sudan and Eritrea, the same Shafir who claimed that Netanyahu was capable of starting a war to drown out the social protest.
And Labor voters will also be sending Raleb Majadele (17th), a big fan of poet Mohammad Darwish, who called on the Jews to remove their belongings and their dead and go back where they came from. And, possibly, even Professor Yossi Yonah (20th), who signed on to these pearls: “I don’t connect to the word Zionism, it does not express who I am,” and “Israel’s behavior over the past few decades does not permit letting it join the community of enlightened nations,” and he proposed to conduct a “united” day of mourning commemorating both the IDF fallen and the victims of the “Nakba,” or Catastrophe, the Palestinian term for the Israeli War of Independence, and many more delusions rife with hate. THE ETHNIC TEAR
The movement of returning to the Jewish Home is joined by Shasniks, too. Not many, but some. These include people who were shocked by the comeback of convicted criminal Aryeh Deri, who was (together with his pal Chayim Ramon) among the tricksters who performed the “stinking maneuver” of 1990, intended to topple an Israeli right wing government. Later, Deri was a senior partner in the Oslo calamity of 1993, providing a Jewish majority to an agreement that has so far cost us some 1,600 victims. And they’re also shocked by the anti-social policy that used the housing ministry to sectoral ends. Voting Jewish Home may be their way of protesting Shas’s delirious campaign attempting to liven up the fire of brotherly hatred, calling the Likud-Beiteinu a party of “Russians and Whites,” only to deepen the ethnic tear for the sake of a few more votes. And maybe they loathe Shas’s efforts to align itself according to the dictates from the arrogant and superior Torah Judaism – supporting their fanatical campaign to save some gentile graves in Ashkelon at the expense of building life-saving emergency rooms.
And the biggest surprise: some are coming to the Jewish Home for the very first time in their lives – you won’t believe this – from the Torah Judaism party. One of my own friends from Bnei Brak, a Haredi Jew for all intents and purposes, has told me that he and “at least 60 others in my neighborhood alone will vote for Bennett.” When I raised an eyebrow, he explained that these are all Haredim who work for a living or serve in the army, but receive no support from the Haredi political leadership. “We’ve reached the conclusion that our leaders prefer that we continue our lives of poverty and ignorance, because that’s the only way they’d be able to keep fooling us.”
But an even bigger surprise comes from those myriad secular voters, young and old, supporters of the Jewish Home. Neither knitted nor black, but see-through yarmulkes . These are adults searching for something refreshing, and multitudes of secular youths, the pub and club crowd, not religious but not anti-religious either, in search of a politician they could identify with. Whom are they going to identify with – Shelly? Tzipi? Yair? Even Bibi no longer suits them. They like a guy who’s young, religious but not an extremist, former member of the special forces Sayeret Matcal (served on the same squad as the late hero Lieutenant Colonel Emanuel Moreno), an hi-tech wizard who did an amazing exit, with excellent English skills, loyal to the triple banners of the Nation of Israel, the Torah of Israel and the Land of Israel, whose messages are straight forward, as opposed to Bibi yesterday versus Bibi today – what’s there not to like?
This trend is pulling in secular Jews who feel robbed of their Judaism. They are scattered among the left wing kibbutzim, in towns and villages, searching for a path to their Jewish identity – and they’re finding satisfying answers in the Jewish Home. They’re not necessarily Shabbat observers, but some do check out the synagogues that open in their neighborhoods. They feel that they’re good Jews, despite their see-through yarmulke, the kippa of heaven. They, too, will be joining the trend that’s changing a party no one counted into the third largest party in Israel.
It’s not over till it’s over – but it’s not just an idle dream, either.
About the Author: Born in Tel Aviv in 1943. Graduated Bar Ilan University (Political Science and History) and Haifa University (Political Science). Chaired the Maariv political desk for 24 years. Married with children and grandchildren. Living in Raanana.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.
If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.