Bayit Yehudi pivots back to its base

By Lahav Harkov, JPOST

Bayit Yehudi had a bad week. Its poll numbers have been in free-fall since the debacle that took place over two weeks ago, when party leader Naftali Bennett appointed soccer legend Eli Ohana to the party’s list and Ohana dropped out three days later amid vocal disgruntlement from party MKs and members. They hit a nadir on Saturday night, when Channel 1’s poll gave them only 11 seats, a steep drop from a high of 18 – coincidentally from the same pollster, Teleseker – since the election was announced in December.

The 11-seat showing was somewhat of an outlier, as the party averaged 13 seats in last week’s polls, but it enough to drive everyone on the Bayit Yehudi campaign, from MKs to advisers to activists, crazy.

On Sunday, the party hit back by announcing that it would demand the Public Security portfolio for MK Ayelet Shaked, who came in first place in its primary, and backed up the call by listing her hard-right credentials: opposing prisoner releases and passing laws to limit them in the future, activism against illegal migration, calls for the police to reassert itself in the Negev and Galilee, which Bayit Yehudi voters will recognize as code for “Arab villages.”

Plus, homeland security issues are important to the party’s voters, and tapping Shaked for a high-ranking portfolio drives home the message that, if Bayit Yehudi doesn’t get more seats, the ministry will likely go to someone else, maybe someone from Likud.

The announcement was part of the latest phase in the Bayit Yehudi campaign, in which Bennett is taking a break from trying to prove to everyone that he is the coolest dude in politics, who can be your bro too, even if you’re not religious, even if you used to support the disengagement (like Ohana – who now regrets it), even if you go jogging around Tel Aviv in spandex (like two women in an early campaign video about Bennett’s economic policies).

This is a break, a pause in the “Bennett is everyone’s bro” mode, which we will surely see again before March 17, to pivot back to the base that felt forsaken and betrayed after Ohana was plucked from the world of sports to theoretically attract secular and Sephardic voters.

A look at the Bayit Yehudi campaign’s recent output – they are one of the more prolific YouTube video producers of this election season – shows that the party’s current efforts are two-pronged: Bayit Yehudi is highlighting its hard-right bona fides, while making sure not to forget its religious roots and supporters.

For the first part, Shaked plays a key role, since she was one of the most active MKs in the last Knesset and never wavered from the Right. As a secular woman, her job is also to try to make sure that longtime Bayit Yehudi supporters who are not Orthodox still feel at home.

Along those lines, the videos being highlighted by the campaign of late are all about being consistently Right-wing. One, called “A Country in Treatment,” shows a patient named “Chaim Shelanu” (our life) who has been in a coma for 20 years, while the doctors tried everything – “Oslo A, Oslo B, Wye Accords, the disengagement, Annapolis…” – and he did not wake up, until a doctor prescribed Bayit Yehudi.

Another video, rife with emoticons, mocked Zionist Union’s Tzipi Livni (represented by a princess emoticon) for flip-flopping on whether to negotiate conceding the Golan Heights or not.

A third features a running ticker of the number of Palestinian terrorists released by Israel, going up to 2,833, and shows reports from when Bennett threatened to leave the coalition if more are set free. “In the next term, we’ll stop their summer camp in prisons,” it concludes.

The second prong, the religious-Zionist base, is less convinced by YouTube videos, though there are a few of those. There are introductions to MK Orit Struck and Bezalel Smotrich candidates from Tekuma, an even more hard-line party running on the Bayit Yehudi list, after Bennett was accused of “hiding” them, plus speeches to a Hesder Yeshiva and a religious Mechina (pre-army academy).

Bayit Yehudi recognizes that religious Zionism has as many tribes as the Biblical Israelites and is sending each of its potential MKs in to the field to talk to the group that best relates to each of them.

Whether it’s Bennett talking to women who wear jeans but say “Baruch Hashem” and are debating between Bayit Yehudi and Likud in a video filmed in an apartment near Jerusalem’s Machaneh Yehuda shuk, to Beersheba-native Deputy Education Minister Avi Wortzman in the South, to MK Motti Yogev appealing to more conservative voters who could be considering Yachad, each candidate appeals to a different part of the public and each one is making sure to directly speak to them through campaign events, parlor meetings, and even whatsapp messages, among other channels.

Such appeals don’t necessarily make exciting YouTube videos, but they’re happening, quietly, in religious-Zionist strongholds across the country, from Gush Dan to Samaria, from Sderot to Maalot, and in places where Bayit Yehudi was a smash hit in the 2013 municipal elections.

Now, Bayit Yehudi’s its campaigners are praying for a better weekend, and hoping the party will be able to translate its appeal to the base into a boost in the polls and, ultimately, more votes.

February 9, 2015 | 34 Comments »

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34 Comments / 34 Comments

  1. @ yamit82:
    Correct if I am wrong Yachad will be your party of choice? Just curious here.

    I think they will take a couple of seats from Bayit Yehudi and a couple from Shas. I will say they get 5 seats plus or minus one seat. I think they will have a good chance to get into the coalition.

    This may end up being a pragmatic far right party. Time will tell.

  2. @ ArnoldHarris:

    Russia is skating on thin ice: Cheap oil, Western sanctions and years of mismanagement have sent its economy into a deep freeze.

    Now everyone is wondering when the ice will crack.

    As things stand, Russian GDP is expected to shrink by 5% (or more) this year, inflation has soared to 15%, the ruble is trading near record lows, consumer and business sentiment is on the slide, and its companies are shut out of financial markets in the U.S. and Europe.

  3. @ ArnoldHarris:

    Besides the ego trip of Deri from Shas and yishai ex Shas leader I would say tha Yishai represents the more nationalist right from Shas and Deri the pragmatic left in Shas. Otzma missed out last elections by a few thousand votes probably due to a lot of election polling place shenanigans by Likud and some others Because many polling stations barred them from being observers. This time Yishai needed them to get accross the threshold and Otzma in order to get into the knesset on a ligitimate ticket agreed to only one member to be in the top five and that was Marzel but had to promise to desist going up to the Temple mount.

    Otzma agreed..

    My take is they will take a lot of votes from Bennet and Shas and possibly a lot from Likud that were in the feiglin camp. I see them from 6-8 mandates which could prove critical for BB in forming a coalition if he gets to form next government. Last polls have labor and likud dead even at 23 each but there are still too many undecided. some 25% of the polled electorate. BB has the block numbers but they are fickle Shas will go with anyone as will the Haredi parties. khahlon, Lieberman, lapid will go either likud or labor depending on the price asked and given. All hate BB and none trust him to honor any agreement. He is a pathological liar and manipulator so the axes are being sharpened. Only if the Likud and Bennett win big will they be forced to come to BB and Likud without heavy demands.

    At this point it doesn’t like like that will happen maybe the Speech to congress will sway enough at the end as it’s scheduled for 2 weeks before the elections and such a campaign advert is worth gold if BB can pull it off. Ther more he gets put down by Obama< American Jews and the democrats the more votes he will get here… They are BB's best political asset. They don't understand the Israeli man in the street. I hate BB but will defend the rat against his enemies in America Jew and Gentile….

    39 days away from elections to soon to pay too much attention to polls here. 3 weeks out is when they start to have real meanings.

  4. SHL, Yamit, Ted:

    What are your individual or collective takes on Yachad/Otzma Yehudit? They seem to be passing the Knesset vote percentage cutoff, with present polling showing as many as five seats. If he is the same man, I met Baruch Marzel, along with and Rav Toledano, in early 1991 at a Kach reorganization meeting following the Arab assassination of the great Rav Meir Kahane a few months earlier.

    If so, then I think that particular political ticket will support hard-core Zionism the way I define it. And assuming Netanyahu sticks with the program, they would be more useful in his coalition than Kahlon’s political fashion show.

    Let us all know what you think.

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  5. @ SHmuel HaLevi 2:


    Your assessments concisely fit mine. Yamit’s denigrative arguments about Russia’s real power sound more than a little like those espoused by Hitler to his adoring Nazi cronies just before he launched Operation Barbarossa against Stalin’s USSR in 1941. Russia is too gigantic to be blockaded, bankrupted, conquered, or even frightened by much of anything the European Union, NATO, or Obama’s USA can say or do.

    Also, I agree with you that the Russian/Chinese/Indian fighter bombers are better for Chail HaAvir’s military needs and pocketbook than the overpriced aerial junk that Washington wants to sell to Israel, and the Eurasian powers supply military hardware with few or no strings attached.

    I think you are also correct in your projection that unmanned and remotely controlled aircraft and rockets will dominate aerial warfare. That process mirrors what happened when aircraft carriers came to dominate naval warfare in place of 45,000 ton battleships with their 15-inch and 16-inch guns, but which could be sunk by a handful of dive bomber, torpedo bomber, and horizontal bomber aircraft and their intrepid pilots in World War II — Japan’s unforgettable contribution to naval science.

    I too have been following Israel’s strategic openings to the Eurasian powers, and I agree they shall prove to be Israel’s best way to reduce exclusive reliance on the European Union and the new and shrunken version of the US power that has been put in place not only by Obama but also by other recent presidential administrations in Washington.

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  6. @ Bear Klein:
    It now includes parts of Haifa and Afula and is not my poll but I help the youngsters. 🙂
    Again. we are honest by declaring that the results are biased by the fact that a large portion of the voters are not responding.

  7. @ ArnoldHarris:
    Thank you for your comment. Very important one at that.
    Mr. Netanyahu cannot at this point water down his obligation to be exacting and forceful on his speech before Congress. Any vacillation will certainly end his career.
    I have met Kohalon when he was slipped into the likud years back. He was posted as assistant to Dr. Landau but not much… Nothing there to be of any relevance. His choice of rejected general Galant is a further negative.
    RUSSIA. Some prominent US and local media talking heads qualify Russia as a failed state. Then again that comes from an US loaded with a 18 trillion debt. I doubt huge Russia owes that much if at all. Russia has short term cash flow problems and that is not lethal if well handled.
    Israel maintains to a degree, good relations with Russia’s top layers. That is far better than the ruinous conditions favored by the present US administration.
    Israel has made very ample moves to the East, in fact omen of a real shift away from the EU and the present administration.
    Purely from the technical standpoint many of us would prefer Russian-Chinese-Indian aircraft rather than the failed F-35’s. Israel has vastly reduced the order and voided the V-22 order completely.
    The future is for the remotely controlled or self controlled aircraft and rockets.
    All of that is going to be very much affected by the Netanyahu action in Washington.

    The Livni-Obama-Hertzog ticket will not win.

  8. New Saudi king opens door to reconciliation with Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood

    @ yamit82:
    the drama is going full circle. Qatar and hamas and saudi and egypt all being “reconciled”. qatar was the original leasher of hamas for the GCC. I always felt that Israels initial targeted bombing in cast lead, where they never went in afterwards, was as much for the GCC as for Israel…. wiping out the iranian influences. I beleive they will reconcile with the MB because they will reconstitute the leadership and hierarchy in egypt to be compliant and subservient. Morsi was not a team player, too independent. See, everyone getting back together like it never happened. 🙂

  9. yamit82 Said:

    we can’t offer anything to the Russians to make them become active enemies or opponents to our regional enemies including Iran.

    I agree, there is no reason for them to trade the billion muslims for the few million Jews who will trade with russia anyway. The russians dont have a large population who is sympathetic to Israel or the Jews so there is no pressure on leadership to that end. If it were up to the executive or the state dept the US would have dumped israel. the best thing goin on for Israel is the arab spring and vlad harassing the euros. Obama has a very low rating so I doubt that he will get much support in the spat.

  10. @ yamit82:
    it was the hitler story that came originally from the site i posted the link. I do get the impression that there are many family names which were both Jewish and muslim or christian from that area.

  11. ArnoldHarris Said:

    Liberman could prove useful in Netanyahu’s expected talks with Putin in Russia.

    Lieberman isn’t Russian he comes from Moldavia. In Russia he is a joke and being able to speak Russian is no big deal.

    Russia today is bankrupt and it’s by anybodies definition a failed state. That said at the moment we can’t offer anything to the Russians to make them become active enemies or opponents to our regional enemies including Iran.

    A couple of years ago I was in favor of closer relations with Russia but today they are too weak to be dependable and their confrontation with America and the West is not in our interest to get in the middle of it.

  12. @ bernard ross:

    Ouch!! I never checked, egg on my face, I should have know by the details that contradicted information I also knew to be true yet the kernal that is true is that there are many clans of Jews that were converted to Islam. I doubt Christianity but Islam for sure I know a few.

    Sorry about that but thanks for the correction… 🙂 🙁

  13. @ SHmuel HaLevi 2:


    I too am convinced Netanyahu will easily win the coming Knesset election. But 73 Knesset seats for the coming Likud-led coalition seems like a stretch. Bennett has shown himself as ideologically sound from our collective point of view; but along with that, he evidences few political skills, if any. The least-dependable element of his likely coalition would be Kahlon’s Kulanu list. I once thought better of him, but what I see now is political opportunism trumping all.

    For Netanyahu’s sake as well as Israel’s, that address to the US Congress had better be the most critically important performance of his political career.

    Liberman could prove useful in Netanyahu’s expected talks with Putin in Russia. Few Israpundit commenters share my view that Israel should develop a strong and friendly relationship with Russia. But necessity gives birth not only to invention but also to flexible international policies; from the Jewish nationalist standpoint, counting on the USA for support may well prove to be as much a futility in the future as it has been in the past. The very presence in office of a Barack Hussein Obama as president of the United States should serve as a strong warning of the correctness of an assessment of the steadfastness of the USA that I understand the Soviet foreign minister once said to Abba Eban:

    “You are leaning against a weak reed, my friend.”

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  14. @ SHmuel HaLevi 2:

    Netanyahu determined to give his Iran speech to US Congress
    DEBKAfile February 9, 2015, 8:27 PM (IDT)

    Despite the criticism he faces from the opposition at home and Democratic circles in Washington, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Monday emphasized his determination to appear before the US Congress and tell the American people that a dangerous nuclear accord is taking shape with Iran. He denied reports appearing in some international media that he was considering alternatives to the speech to the two Houses. Differences between the Israeli and US governments have cropped up in the past, Netanyahu noted, but the friendship binding the countries remained firm.

  15. @ yamit82:

    If what you state is true, why hasn’t Israel plucked him from the Argentine and bring his ass to Israel to stand trial.
    He must have paid the govt a pretty sum to protect his ass.
    Again, if it is true, go get him Israel.

  16. @ yamit82:
    I have not been in Argentina for half a century.
    Nazis residence there. It has been the most wide open “secret” for everybody to know that Nazis were incorporated into Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, US, etc. With deep collaboration of the Dulles clan. And the Church.
    Eichmann was not there alone…
    The nuclear and aviation industry of Argentina openly named former Nazi regime specialists.

  17. @ yamit82:
    True. That is why we use it for reference only. Nevertheless I fail to see why it is more representative a poll centered in Tel Aviv.
    So far this poll is steadily confirmed except for the falsified Obama-Livni. Mozes,_Hertzog ticket. Those numbers are false or loaded by hidden operatives.

  18. @ SHmuel HaLevi 2:

    As our resident Argentinian what do you think???

    FBI: Hitler Didn’t Die, Fled To Argentina – Stunning Admission

    Hidden in plain sight. Hitler fled to Argentina and all of the details are available to view on the FBI’s own website:

    The Intelligence Community Knew.

    Recently released FBI documents are beginning to show that not only was Hitler and Eva Braun’s suicide faked, the infamous pair might have had help from the director of the OSS himself, Allen Dulles.

    In one FBI document from Los Angles, it is revealed that the agency was well aware of a mysterious submarine making its way up the Argentinian coast dropping off high level Nazi officials. What is even more astonishing is the fact that the FBI knew he was in fact living in the foothills of the Andes.

  19. I hope he doesn’t change his mind. It’s important for Congress and the American people to understand the real threat Iran poses to not only Israel but to the US.

    Ovomit is controlled by his handler Valerie B. Jarrett an Iranian born communist.

  20. I don’t have a pony in the race however, I support Israel and I know Israel needs a strong PM to withstand the abuse from Ovomit and his WH cronies.

    G-d bless Israel and keep her safe.

  21. I am very proud of the young people conducting the cumulative poll. There is no way to believe fully any poll still as the undecided are numerous.
    Nevertheless the Northern poll is in my view the most credible.
    Netanyahu is solidly ahead.
    LIKUD 26 Steady
    Hertzog-Obama-Mozes-Livni: 19 unstable
    Bait Yehudi: 15 recovering
    Islamics: 12 solid
    Lapid: 9 gaining
    Orthodox: 8 well organized
    Kohalon: 7 erratic
    Lieberman: 7 regaining some leverage
    Meretz 6
    Shas: 5
    Yishai-Otzmah: 5

    There are shifting mandates still.

  22. If for no other reason, Israelis should vote to re-elect Netanyahu because Ovomit opposes him. Ask yourself why.

  23. Channel 10 Poll: Likud 23, Zionist Union 23, Bayit Yehudi 14, United Arab List 13, Yesh Atid 10, Koolanu 10
    Knesset Jeremy Poll of Polls – Weekly Average #10: Likud 25.3, Zionist Union 23.6, Bayit Yehudi 13.0, United Arab List 12.0, Yesh Atid 10.4, Koolanu 7.5
    Teleseker/Channel 1 Poll: Likud 27, Zionist Union 23, United Arab List 12, Bayit Yehudi 11, Yesh Atid 11, UTJ 8

  24. Outdated item. Bait Yehudi is back to 14 and likely to return to about 17 come election day.
    Likud solid 27. Obama-Hertzog-Livni remain at 19.