Bennett increases control of his party

Uri Ariel’s Tekuma faction weakened, radical rabbis ditching party for Shas renegade Eli Yishai’s.

By Chaim Levinson, HAARETZ

bENNETT4The decision of Tekuma’s Central Committee to join with Habayit Hayehudi in the upcoming elections has not decided the political battle that the latter’s chairman, Naftali Bennett, and the former’s, Uri Ariel, have been waging for the past two years.

While the disagreement is supposedly about Tekuma’s representation in the elections, the actual issue is much deeper. Bennett wants to erase Tekuma and integrate it into Habayit Hayehudi, which would entrench his autocracy over the religious Zionist party in preparation for a future bid for the premiership. Ariel wants to continue doing what he has been doing for years, with impressive political skill: using a platform of 60,000 national-Zionist Haredim as a base for political power.

Using this platform, he extracts more and more funds for the most pampered sector in the country: the hesder yeshivas, the small, religiously observant groups that establish new communities, the religious academies and so on. Tekuma has never run on its own in Knesset elections, and even after the current round it is alive and kicking, and will continue to be a political force.

The immediate significance of the decision is the weakening of Tekuma within Habayit Hayehudi. The next Knesset will be much friendlier to Bennett. Instead of four slots out of 12 on the Knesset list, Tekuma goes down to four out of 18. In a reasonable scenario of 15 to 16 seats, Tekuma will have only three. Yoni Chetboun, Bennett’s bitter rival, has already left. In addition, Ariel promised not to vote in the government against the faction’s decision, and it was agreed that he will no longer be able to challenge laws; only Bennett will be able to do that.

Also, the rabbis’ power in the parties is shrinking. Rabbis Dov Lior and Elyakim Levanon have already announced that they will support right-wing Shas renegade Eli Yishai, and many members of the Haredi national-Zionist community are expected to follow in their footsteps. Supposedly, Bennett bought a pig in a poke here. He paid for the Knesset members, but did not get all the votes. But at the bottom line, it is doubtful whether Bennett is disappointed. If there is anything he is allergic to, it is rabbis’ interference in politics. The more rabbis who quit, the happier Bennett will be.

Now people are focusing on the party primaries that will be held on January 14. A new name was thrown into the ring yesterday: that of Professor Asher Cohen, who wishes to represent the “religious-lite” population. In the competition for the 10th spot, which is reserved for a member of the Central Committee, Nir Orbach, the party’s director-general and a Bennett loyalist, announced that he would run.

The battle over realistic spots on the Knesset list is close indeed, as Deputy Minister Eli Ben Dahan, who came from Tekuma, joins the existing Knesset members, as do strong candidates whom the chairman supports, such as Danny Dayan, Ronen Shoval and Rabbi Avichai Rontzki. The wild card could be the Muslim Zionist candidate, Annette Khasikya. Due to the promise of representation for women, the wave of enthusiasm could carry her to the 12th spot on the list, after Ayelet Shaked and Shuli Moalem.

December 23, 2014 | 2 Comments »

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  1. The strength that the Jewish nationalist and religious Haredim equates to the strength of the cutting edge of modern Zionism, namely, the impulse that establishes and builds authentic Jewish settlements all across that most authentic once and future Jewish homeland area of Eretz-Yisrael: Shomron and Yehuda, and especially Area C which comprises about 62 per cent of those not-yet annexed territories.

    Leftist “Haaretz” describes the Haredim as “pampered”. I say that for what these authentically Jewish men, women and their numerous authentically Jewish children represent, they are nothing less than the most significant element of the Jewish nation, if Israel and the Jewish nation are to regain and hold the Jewish national heritage of Jewish land and Jewish spirit, and decrease the Jewish and Israeli dependence on the non-Jews who circle the Jewish nation and state akin to a flock of vile buzzards.

    As for Naftali Bennett and his party, many of us have come to realize that he and they must become the core of the coming generation of Knesset leaders, to replace the tired and aging would-be compromisers of Jewish national rights that make up Binyamin Netanyahu’s key supporters in HaLikud and the Knesset.

    The time has come — and indeed is overdue — for Israel and he Jewish nation being reborn and redeveloped in Israel — to build its national strength, and with that strength, free the Jews from dependence on the decaying western democracies, all of which have been condemned by their own self-induced weaknesses to play a lesser role in the world as a whole. A growing confluence of Russia, China, and India shall be the Eurasian powerhouse that will control the strategic future of the eastern hemisphere. Western Europe can have no such future unless their independent societies find a way to fight off the growing threat of Islamization. And North America — the USA and Canada — will decay into the status of a mere regional power center unless they ditch their present pursuit of national social decay brought on by ultraliberalism — that disease of the republics.

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI