Primary Bayit Yehudi candidates court Anglos – 5-7% of the party

By Lahav Harkov, JPOST

SaltanWith less than a month until the January 14 Bayit Yehudi primary, the party’s candidates are courting English-speaking voters, who make up 5 percent to 7% percent of its membership.

There were 3,000,-4,000 Anglo members out of about 57,000 ahead of the party’s online membership drive, which began last week and ends on December 29.

More than 10,000 people joined Bayit Yehudi in the past week, making it the second-largest party after the Likud, which has some 99,000 members.

More of the English-speaking members made aliya from the US than from anywhere else and a plurality of them live in the 02 area code, meaning Jerusalem and the surrounding area.

Bayit Yehudi English Forum chairman Jeremy Saltan takes credit for enlisting nearly 3,000 members ahead of the 2013 general election and is working on more, calling for native English speakers to join the party and increase their impact.

“The Anglo vote was a significant voice in the last election and served as a kingmaker for several candidates.

With a larger field, it will play an even bigger role in this election,” Saltan said on Monday. “It is the Western olim who succeeded in pushing the agenda of democratic values of accountability, transparency and representation in the party.”

One Anglo candidate has officially entered the Bayit Yehudi race – Yossi Fuchs, the US-born chairman of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, who moved from Likud – and two high-profile party members are strongly considering doing so: Detroit-born Bayit Yehudi faction chairman Uri Bank and Torah Metzion kollel network CEO Ze’ev Schwartz, who hails from Johannesburg.

Bank, who was involved in National Union politics for 12 years and ran on the its list in the past, resigned from the party on Sunday to join Bayit Yehudi, a strong indication that he will run in the primary. He told fellow party members that he prefers Bayit Yehudi’s more liberal ideas on religion and state, now that the rabbinically oriented Tekuma faction is all that is left of the National Union.

Several Sabra primary candidates said that they hope to specifically address Anglos in their campaigns.

“[Anglos] joined in large numbers in order to influence the party, and I am in direct contact with them,” said Amiad Taub, chairman of the Bayit Yehudi Council of Chapter Leaders, who will either run in the general primary or for the 10th spot, reserved for a central committee member.

“I think they have an influence. Every united population with specific needs can increase its chance to meet those needs if it works together,” he added.

At the same time, Taub said he advocates immigrants integrating into general Israeli society and that Anglos do a good job with that and do not necessarily vote as a bloc. As such, he posited that his campaigning in Hebrew is effective for English-speaking voters, though he also recognizes their specific needs, as someone who lives in an area of Modi’in with many Anglos.

English-speaking Bayit Yehudi members “show great involvement in the party and in what happens in the country,” Rabbi Dr. Doron Danino, who is also running in the primary, said. “They care and that is important and I will listen to them. I think I can faithfully represent their needs.”

Danino suggested that he had a lot to offer to English-speaking Bayit Yehudi voters as someone who is a rabbi, a member of the Tzohar rabbinical association, and an academic, who lectures at Bar-Ilan University.

He said he has many ties to the Anglo community, having “adopted” many new immigrants who spent time in Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, where he lives and having served as a Jewish Agency emissary in Europe for four years.

MK Motti Yogev pointed to “the Ingathering of Exiles” as one of Bayit Yehudi’s values, saying that he turns to immigrants to join the party not because they are worth so many votes, but because immigration and absorption is close to his heart.

Anglo immigrants “can contribute a lot to the country with their talents,” he said.

If those candidates want to know how to get the thousands of Anglo voters on their side, Saltan said: “The community is focused on issues such as public diplomacy, our connection to the Diaspora, absorbing new immigrants, and a more inclusive brand of religious Zionism.”

December 23, 2014 | 10 Comments »

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  1. @ David Chase:
    I believe annexations of places in Judah and Samaria will need to be piecemeal (e.g. Gush Etzion, Jordan Valley, a list of cities and towns), starting with only Jewish Areas to minimize the issue with residency for Arabs in annexed Areas). I am a believer if Sherman’s ideas get off the ground they should be tried first in limited locals such as an Arab village next a Jewish Town. See what problems are run into and learn from them. I have written him this. Sort of like a corporation starts with one franchise and then offers more.

  2. @ Bear Klein:
    One last comment. I don’t have a specific plan but I think we need specific concepts- creating incentivization to leave and not to stay and then give a real carrot of some financial incentive to give them the final push out. It has to be a LONG-TERM thinking but giving in and creating policies to ease the plight of the Arabs is only counterproductive and doesn’t lead to more peaceful coexistence. One can’t believe in both Jewish rights to the land and full annexation and some form of peaceful coexistence at the same time. No one says he should talk like Kahane (even though Kahane was right) but he should never stop thinking like him.

  3. I think some long-term thinking which incorporates Sherman’s ideas is the right way to go- very slowly if necessary. By talking about implementing ideas now which would actually have the opposite effect Bennett may inadvertantly and probably be sabotaging any future hope of implementating any of Sherman/Kahane-like ideas down the road. That’s my objection. Even just talking like that energizes the Two-Staters just like talking about having the PA run Gaza and create a united government between Gaza and Judea and Samaria would also be a bad idea. I think this was Netanyahu’s main reason for not wiping out Hamas altogether. It would strengthen the Two-State argument. I do still like Bennett but I think even if he’s not committed to such a plan he should be careful what he say’s publicly because, if his agenda is really the eventual annexation of all of J & S then he shouldn’t be making statements like that- it’s counterproductive and could be thrown back at him in the future..

  4. @ David Chase: I believe Bennett has the view if you can co-exist with the Arabs so much the better.

    He is leaving open the possibility than they can run their own lives in area A. He is offering a carrot for co-existence. Do I think the plan is perfect, No. I also do not believe that he thinks the plan is perfect. He is open to changing it.

    More than likely if this plan ever starts getting to the implementation level it will change greatly.

    What are the alternatives: (1) Glick’s One State Solution ( a terrorists dream, runaround Israel with an Israeli ID card), (2) Sherman’s
    vision to pay the Arabs to leave (could be tried but this will probably never get out the theoretical stage).

    If Bennett did not offer a possibility of a carrot for peaceful co-existence and instead offered Meir Kahane’s vision of driving the Arabs out he would be dismissed out of hand by too many.

    Do you have a better idea than Bennett that has chance of implementation? I do not?

  5. @ Bear KleinI agree with you and i still support bayit hayudit and still feel that Bennett is one of our best spokesman for no TSS.and also our rights to defenf outself. He IS unapologetic when he speaks amd he’s not afraid to speak his mind. It’s just disappointing when he seems to cave when he talks about ideas like improving the Arabs lives for public consumption. It’s no better than Netanyahu’s Bar-Ilan speech-don’t you think?
    disappointing when

  6. @ David Chase:
    I believe it is very imporant that an Israeli leader is finally talking to the world about the need to have plans other than the TSS.

    Yes his very general plans about annexation are not detailed to a practical level. At this point this is just getting new concepts accepted and other points of view.

  7. @ Bear Klein:
    I know. I belong to Bayit HaYehudi for the exact reasons as expanded in your comment BUT, and it’s a big but (but it’s true) that Bennett has verbalized a desire to open up the Arab areas by closing checkpoints and even taking down the security barrier to make the “Palestinians” life BETTER. You can’t say things like that and espouse annexation at the same time. Just annexing area C is no good either because it would be impossible to delineate clear borders or prevent infiltration so that’s no good either. As good as that seems, it’s unrealistic. Talking about taking steps to improve the Palestinians lives and talking about a realistic annexation plans are completely contradictory. Any long term annexation plans has to deincentivize the Arabs from staying otherwise one is talking out of both sides of their mouth and, in Bennett’s case, takes away from him having any serious credentials to be the kind of realistic I supported him for being. I think he blew it when he announced his ideas for improving the economic life of the Palestinians in the territories which only whets the appetite of the TSS crowd and does nothing towards making any eventual annexation plan feasible.

  8. @ David Chase:
    People in HaBayit HaYehudi are clearly against a TSS solution as clearly repeatably spoken and written about in English and Hebrew by the head of the party Naphtali Bennett. The party is clear pro Jewish building in Judah and Samaria. A vote for HaBayit HaYehudi is clear a PRO Nationalist Zionist vote and against a Pali State. No ambiguity here!

  9. There’s no talk in this article from candidates about how to railroad the TSS. I’m sure they can come up with why Anglo should vote for them- especially because of their push for more immigration and absorbtion- something close to home-so to speak but will these candidates then be too “moderate” to push and fight against TSS pressure and work with those calling for asserting our legal rights and making our case clearer to, not just the world, but within Israel itself. I need to hear candidates more idealistic on that level and not just how, because there are a lot of Anglos in Modiin how a particular English speaking candidate can relate to their needs. Is the settlement enterprise and some annexation/one-state solution plan important to them. Where do they stand on that?