Polls that showing that Eli Yishai’s Yachad party won’t pass the minimum electoral threshold. Neither will Michael Ben-Ari’s Otzma Yehudit party. As a result, they could lose at least 4 seats that could have gone towards a right-wing coalition.
But joined together, the two are not only more likely to get in, but could possibly get as many as 7 seats.
But it comes at a cost.
Bayit Yehudi drops from 15 or 16 in the polls to 13 seats. Shas will also take a hit and drop back down to 6, after rallying this past week.
While Bayit Yehudi will take a small hit, in the big picture, Bayit Yehudi and Yachad would then bring 20 seats to the coalition, not 15 – assuming Naftali Bennett agrees to work with them after the elections.
It’s clear that neither the Yachad nor the Otzma party chiefs plans to step down for the greater good and ensure Bayit Yehudi gets their otherwise lost votes, so the only sane option left is for them is to join together for the elections.
The question is, will their ideological handcuffs allow them to do the right thing?
A new poll on Friday showing the possible demise of Shas should make Sephardi Rabbi Chaim Amsalem and right-wing Otzma leader Michael Ben-Ari think twice about running the elections, but their egos probably will seal their ears.
If each of them insists on running in their own independent parties, they are unlikely to win the minimum number of votes to enter the Knesset and will waste tens of thousands of votes that otherwise would go to the Jewish Home and the other two Sephardi parties.
That means the other parties, particular those on the center-left, get a bigger slice of the pie and could end up with enough votes to form a coalition government, thanks to those who are dead-set against it.
It will be tougher for a party to enter the Knesset this year because the new threshold has been upped to 3.25 percent of the vote, meaning that a party needs approximately 125,000 votes to win representation.
In the last election, the threshold was only 2 percent, but Otzma still missed being elected.
Ben-Ari is known to support the Lehava anti-assimilation group, whose leader Bentzi Gupstein and nearly a dozen others were arrested this month.
Ben-Ari is a true ideologue. He compares Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with Labor party chairman Yitzchak Herzog, both of whom are left-wingers in his opinion. He calls himself the real “right wing,” a label Likud Knesset Member Danny Danon claims for himself in his campaign to defeat Netanyahu as party chairman in elections next week.
As for taking votes away from the Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi) party and ending up with zero seats in the Knesset, Ben-Ari apparently has no answer. When asked by Channel 20, “Aren’t you afraid of wasting right-wing votes?” he simply blamed Yisrael Beitenu for raising the threshold, as if blaming someone else for the likely result justifies his being the reason.
Ben-Ari’s anger at right-wing politicians who compromise in order to stay in power is absolutely correct but also proves why he should not be in politics. There is an old expression, “Would you rather be right or be president?”
In his case, he would rather be right, in both senses of the word, a position that could help Herzog and his sidekick Tzipi Livni become the rotating prime ministers.
Rabbi Amsalem’s Am Shalem party, like Otzma, failed to enter the Knesset in the last elections, and he is not likely to fare better this time around.
That did not stop him from meeting with supporters this week to discuss tossing his kippa into the political ring again and splitting up the Sephardi religious vote that already is divided between Shas, headed by Aryeh Deri, and Eli Yishai’s new party.
And now for today’s poll released by Panels, rated as one of the most accurate election campaign polls.
Shas would not win enough votes to enter the Knesset, and Yishai would win only four, which is marginal, compared with nine Shas MKs in the Knesset that disbanded this month.
That means votes for Shas are wasted.
The poll was taken before Ben-Ari announced his intentions to run and it gave the Jewish Home a very impressive 18 seats in the Knesset.
The Otzma party could easily cut that down to 16.
Here is the lineup if elections were held today, according to Panels:
Labor-Livni – 24;
Likud – 24;
Jewish Home -18;
Arab parties – 13;
Lapid (Yesh Atid) – 11;
Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) – 7;
Yehadut HaTorah (Ashkenaz Haredi) – 7;
Meretz – 6;
Yisrael Beitenu – 6;
Eli Yishai – 4.
If Amsalem enters the race, he could take away enough seats away from Yishai to leave the three religious Sephardic parties with zero.
Former MK Michael Ben-Ari is back and running again for Knesset. His revamped party is now called Otzma Yehudit.
In the previous elections, Ben-Ari’s party, then called Otzma L’Yisrael, just missed passing the Knesset’s minimum threshold by 9000 votes. In this election, the minimum threshold for entry is even higher.
The new party is clearly trying to distinguish itself from Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi, and defines itself as the real Right – and saying that the right-wing doesn’t talk about “two-state solutions”.
They hope to push the point that Bennett isn’t a “real” right-winger, which interestingly enough, may work to Bennett’s benefit, as having a party to the right of Bayit Yehudi may make Bennett look even more moderate and appealing to a larger voter segment.
There is also talk of Otzma Yehudit wanting to join forces with Eli Yishai, but at this point it’s just talk.
Israel’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by nationalists Michael Ben-Ari, a former Knesset Member, and Itamar Ben-Gvir, to demand criminal charges be filed against MK Haneen Zoabi for her participation in the IHH terrorist-backed Mavi Mamara flotilla in 2010.
Ben-Ari and Ben-Gvir took their case to the court after government prosecutors decided not to indict her. They noted that the court did not ask to review all of the evidence before deciding against the appeal.
This is the second time the court has stepped up to bat for Zoabi. The Central Election Commission last year decided that Zoabi’s activism on the Mavi Mamara precluded her from running for election in the Knesset. The court overruled the decision.
Former National Union Michael Ben-Ari, who teamed up with colleague Aryeh Eldad to run in the Otzma (Power) party and come out with zero seats in the Knesset, announced Sunday he is forming a new party – the one that will really solve all of Israel’s problems.
After he and Eldad split off from the merged National Union-Jewish Home election list, citing it as too soft on the Arabs, Ben-Ari is politically divorcing Eldad.
Both former MKs are characters in their own right, Ben-Ari is an ordained rabbi and holds a doctorate degree, and the secular Eldad, a professor, is recognized as one of the foremost medical doctors in Israel. Both men share nationalist ideas.
Eldad and pulled off several great stunts as Knesset members, such as marching with an Israeli flag in Umm-el-Fahm, the head of the northern branch of the radical Muslim and anti-Zionist Islamic Movement.
Their most brilliant act was to highlight the plague of the infiltration of Africans into the country by buying paying the entrance fee for dozens of Sudanese to splash in a upper middle-class area swimming pool in northern Tel Aviv.
The locals were enraged and accused Eldad and Ben-Ari of incitement, but the MKs got their point across to all of the limousine liberals who could care less about illegal immigrants so long as they are in someone else’s territory.
Although they provided lots of color to the Knesset, remaining on the fringe of the fringe, apparently there is no room in the same room for super-egos.
Israelis suffered from more than 30 political parties in the last elections, and Ben-Ari apparently thinks he is so charismatic that he can duplicate Tzipi Livni with a party that is modeled after himself and can attract clones as running mates, such as his partner Itamar Gen-Gvir.
“Today, more than ever, the voice of the rightwing, the true voice of our path, will be heard in all of the country. The fight is for the identity and existence of a Jewish state,” according to his plea. Nothing more and nothing less – Ben-Ari and only Ben-Ari represents the real Jews.
“I call on all of you to join a new political movement, one that works to fulfill the vision of returning the Jews to their land” against internal and external enemies.
An associate of Ben-Ari, Hila Gorani, told the Jewish Press that is not fair to declare Otzma a failure because they actually won two seats in the Knesset but were a lacking a few thousands votes to cross the minimum number of votes needed for entry into the legislature.
She also explained that Otzma was formed because Ben-Ari and Eldad could not agree to be a part of the Jewish Home agenda due to party chairman Naftali Bennett’s acceptance of the Palestinian Authority in parts of Israel.
Gorani said Ben-Ari is working without Eldad because they do not have the same focus. Eldad has declared on numerous occasions that the Palestinians have a state of their own – Jordan. Ben-Ari has focused on the idea of granting Arabs the status of “residents” of Israel with the obligation to observe and respect Israel and Jewish laws, similar to the concept of “ger toshav” in the Bible.
Of course, Ben-Ari’s agenda may be exactly what should be – in the World to Come.
For all those interested, he will launch his new party with a bash on Wednesday in Petach Tikvah, adjacent to Tel Aviv.
Every journalist in Israel should wish Ben-Ari great success because he will provide lots of good headlines.
Please being $13 dollars with you, but $7 is enough if you are under 18.
The Jewish Home list led by Naftali Bennett was fined 72,000 shekels (just under $20,000) for disobeying an order of the Chairman of the central elections committee Justice Elyakim Rubinstein to remove campaign ads showing the Bennett next to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Reshet bet radio reported.
Rubinstein had made clear that candidate lists running for election may not trifle with injunctions issued by the Chairman of the Central Election Commission, even if they do not agree with the rulings. “Obedience to the law and the provisions of the courts should be a guiding light for anyone who considers himself a member of the Israeli Knesset,” said Rubinstein.
At the same time, Justice Rubinstein also announced that he respects the Supreme Court ruling that confirmed the election broadcasts made by Power for Israel, even though he personally believes they contained a racist message. Rubinstein said that in Israel, a Jewish state, racism should be off limits.
The commercial in question shows MKs Michael Ben Ari and Aryeh Eldad lecturing on the idea that one must fulfill one’s duties in order to be entitled to rights – but they do it in fluent Arabic.
National religious Israeli voters like yours truly have three choices this coming Tuesday:
Vote for Likud-Beitenu and strengthen the hand of Benjamin Netanyahu, whose party list includes at least six national-religious candidates in realistic spots. The polls are giving them between 32 and 38 seats.
Vote for Jewish Home, so that it would be large enough for Netanyahu to be forced to include it in his coalition government and necessarily stick to pro-settlement, anti-Palestinian state policies. The polls are giving them between 12 and 16 seats.
Or vote for Power for Israel, a small party made up of vehement lovers of the land of Israel and the Jewish nation, and which has been teetering between 3 and 4 seats and the prospect of not passing the blocking percentage at all.
Power for Israel has captured the much disdained corner of Israel’s political map once occupied by “right wing extremists” from Rabbi Meir Kahane to Rehavam Zeevi (both of whom were assassinated by Arabs), to rabbi Benny Alon and Benny Begin, who are considered more moderate (and are very much alive, thank God).
But in the process of taking on the mantle of ultimate right wingers, the two co-leaders of Power for Israel, MKs Michael Ben Ari and Aryeh Eldad have done a lot to make being right wing extremists sound cool and very much in.
Like the time they challenged Tel-Aviv’s wealthy liberals, who support letting illegal workers from Africa stay in the country—as long as they hang around the poor neighborhoods in south Tel Aviv: Ben Ari and Eldad got 50 Sudanese illegals together, bought them bathing suits, and took them into the prestigious Gordon swimming pool off of Dizengoff. The wealthy north-Tel Avivians were irate, they decried the “provocation,” and Power for Israel scored a great point.
Or their latest campaign, “No Duties, No Rights,” which demands—in signs written in Arabic—that Israel’s Arabs start paying taxes, obey traffic laws, submit formal requests for home extensions, and declare their loyalty to the Jewish state. Both leaders taped a video in Arabic stating all these points. The campaign was accused of racism, but the point was made, loud and clear.
I’ve been enamoured with political circuses since 1968, when legendary street theater performers like Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Danny the Red) and Abbey Hoffman used humor and pathos to defeat state systems. The fact that Danny and Abbey were on the left and Michael and Aryeh are on the right is trivial. They’re all good Jews, as far as I’m concerned, teaching the world that a little sense of humor and political conviction can defeat lines of cops in riot gear, and even, on occasion, tanks.
I shudder at the thought that the Palestinians might some day develop a sense of humor. But then I remember Hanan Ashrawi and I know we’re safe for a while.
Still, looking at MK Aryeh Eldad, the last thing that comes to mind is a radical provocateur. His co-chairman, Ben Ari, looks the part, with the salt and pepper hair and beard, the burning, dark eyes and the big mouth, full of teeth. Eldad, in comparison, looks like someone you’d ask to do your taxes.
He comes from radical stock, though. His father, the late Israel Eldad, was a leader in the Lechi underground (the Stern gang, as the British named it). Incidentally, a disproportionate number of today’s leaders in Israel are children of Stern gang members: Tzipi Livni, Yair Shamir, Dan Meridor, Tzahi Hanegbi. Surprisingly, many of them are center-left, if not altogether leftists.
I ask him if, as an ex general (he was chief of the IDF medical corps), and a famous plastic surgeon, he’s not setting foot in political water that’s too murky for someone of his stature.
“You say murky water,” Eldad responds with a glint in his eye, “but my engagement in medicine has taught me that in order to heal one must come in contact with the most repulsive things you can imagine: birthing, draining abscesses. I don’t have the privilege to be spoiled.”
A story that made the rounds a few years ago has Dr. Eldad, then chief of the Hadassah Medical Center Dept. of Plastic Surgery, taking care, free of charge, of a teenage girl from Gaza, who was honor-burned by her family. The girl would come in frequently for follow-up visits. One time she was caught on her way to his Jerusalem clinic, wearing a suicide vest. It turned out that her family told her they would forgive her romantic transgressions if she blew up the doctor who healed her.