Naftali Bennett should not take my vote for granted. Until this week I’ve been wavering between voting Likud, Bayit Yehudi or Yachad (Otzma Yehudit).
I’m not happy with any of them, though some would say the definition of elections is voting for the candidate you least dislike.
Obviously, I wouldn’t vote Kulanu, whose members go from Left to very Left. Or Yisrael Beytenu, when Liberman can’t construct a simple statement of intent that doesn’t leave himself open to maneuvering and interpretation – that really turns me off.
There’s a certain logic to voting for the Likud. They’re the biggest party, they hold the reins, and they control the checkbook. Netanyahu is an amazing orator. And better a strong Likud in power than Labor.
There’s a lot of good people in the Likud. There’s Hotovely, Danon, Edelstein, Elkin, Kara… But there are some bad apples on that list too who I don’t want to see in the Knesset.
But as a party they lack a unified ideology other than security and pragmatism. They could easily swing left if they felt their security concerns were properly addressed, or had to be sacrificed for something they felt was equally important.
I also dislike what they did to Feiglin.
But most importantly, I’m concerned Netanyahu will try to form a unity government with the Left if he feels it’s in his best interest to do so.
I entertained the idea of voting for Yachad.
I like Eli Yishai. I think he has always been an excellent minister, and it will be good if he were a minister in the next government.
I’m not exactly blown away by anyone else on his list, though having Baruch Marzel there does at least give him strong right wing credentials. But I don’t actually know enough about Marzel’s positions on anything other than Hebron and the Settlements for me to be willing to give him my vote.
But Yachad has some serious downsides.
They may not pass the electoral threshold, and that’s not a risk I want to take with my vote.
And even if they do pass, there is a good chance that Netanyahu will simply leave them out of the coalition (or at least Marzel). In which case, we’ve already seen how powerless a rightwing party is when excluded from a supposedly rightwing coalition.
This leads me back to Naftali Bennett and Bayit Yehudi.
Bennett was great on security issues. Of that there’s no doubt. He was great representing us in the international media during the Gaza war. I believe he may one day be our Prime Minister, and he’ll probably be a good one.
He was also amazing on economic issues.
And while other parties were proposing solutions to the housing problem, Bayit Yehudi actually implemented solutions that worked.
But I’m was disappointed in his party’s performance last time around in another important area.
In the religious sphere, one of the most important things he could have done was get us a Religious-Zionist Chief Rabbi – and his party failed at that – spectacularly.
While they did manage to block Elazar Stern’s bad ideas on religion and state, Bayit Yehudi failed to implement some of the good ones too.
In fact, for a Religious-Zionist party, I feel they haven’t emphasized their religious side enough – and I believe that problem comes from the top.
Too many of the Bennett commercials are about attracting secular Jews – and I understand he wants to widen his voter base, but as a result, he’s ignoring his religious base, or taking it for granted. Choosing soccer player Eli Ohana was a symptom of that thinking.
I’m certainly not interested in Rabbis running the party (they should run for office if they want to be in politics), but I do want to know how Bayit Yehudi envisions the future of religion and state, and what their practical solutions are for dealing with the tough problems we face in those areas (agunot, the Chareidi monopolies, conversion, Kashrut, Shabbat, etc.) – and not just what solutions they plan to block.
I would have liked to have seen Eli Yishai as a member of Bayit Yehudi. True, he is Chareidi (or Sephardi Chareidi which is different), but I think he would have brought some much needed religious character back to the party.
But it comes down to this…
I don’t trust Likud to not freeze settlements or do something else leftwing. I don’t think Yachad will be influential enough to change anything if they do manage to get in, and that leaves Bayit Yehudi.
When Bayit Yehudi party members say that a large Bayit Yehudi party will have their hands on the steering wheel alongside Bibi making sure he doesn’t turn left, there is a straightforward undeniable logic to that.
So given the options at the voting booth, it seems the only option is Bayit Yehudi.
Naftali, please don’t make me regret my choice.