Time to Come Together; Time for 'Yachad'

The "Yachad Haam Itanu" party fills a real need within Israeli society.

MK Yoni Chetboun,

OpEds MK Yoni Chetboun
MK Yoni Chetboun
Flash 90

"Politics" is the ability to translate values and ideals into an effective practical force. This premise requires that the determination of those values and vision predates the methods of execution. This is true in every field of life, in public service, business, education and the military. First come the values and only then the politics.

Regarding its vision, the Jewish Home Party has decided to become an Israeli "right-wing party". Actually, one could also call it the "General Israelis'" party. Consciously - and legitimately -  and reflected in the different candidates for the up-coming primaries (Jews, Druze, Muslims, secular and religious), the trend in the Jewish Home Party is to shake off the label Religious or Religious-Zionist.

Over the last two years I led a very profound ongoing discussion in the Jewish Home Knesset faction about the nature and identity of the party. But a decision was made; today the Jewish Home is a general Israeli right-wing party.

In order to strengthen the entire national camp, it is important for Israeli right-wing parties to be strong. I certainly wish my friends and former political home success But in the current reality it is clear that Israeli politics needs a significant political movement that will proudly bear the values of the Torah without apologetics and without fearing what the electorate in the"State of Tel Aviv" will say. The nationalist camp needs a truly Religious Zionist movement.

The past two years have shown that claims of "a wave of anti-religious legislation" whose goal is to undermine the relationship between the Torah and the state while disrupting Jewish family values, are not unfounded.

Joining political parties that pose as "liberal" (Yesh Atid, for example) creates a distancing from the traditional public that loves the Torah and loves this country, the public that lives in the periphery, that is not part of the "middle class" for whom those "liberal" parties supposedly speak.

In my opinion, it is also of great importance to create a connection between the Religious-Zionist public and the Hareidi community. Most of the members of these communities are tired of the hate discourse to which they have been subjected and crave this natural and unafraid relationship.

I have come to see that the public has a real and even a moral need for the establishment of a grass-roots religious party in which Religious Zionists, the Hareidi sector and traditional Israelis feel at home. There is a real need for a movement that will take care of those who do not live in "State of Tel Aviv". There is a real need for a movement that is not afraid and will not apologize for the kippa that’s on its head, a movement in which the ideal of  "ראשינו בעמקי תורתה" (our minds search the depths of Israel's Torah) is no less important than "כפינו ברגבי אדמתה" (our hands are deep in Israel's soil). That is why I chose to join my friend MK Eli Yishai in the establishment of “Yachad Ha’am Itanu” -  "The People are With Us" Party. This is our message .

For the first time in Israel's history there is an historic opportunity for religious, hareidi and traditional Jews to work together in a significant political movement in the right wing bloc; to work together in order to strengthen the values of the Torah and the Jewish spirit, with a real concern for all of the nation - from Safed and Kiryat Shmona in the north to Netivot and Ofakim in the south, religious, hareidi and traditional. Yes, the people are indeed with us.

In the last decade, the right-wing bloc adopted a style that is less religious, less traditional, less connected to every socio-economic level of Israeli society and less oriented towards social welfare. The results were not long in coming, and we are losing seats to the center-left blocks who stress social welfare - to Kachlon, Shas and the Labor Party. A strong popularly-based religious party is what the national camp needs, one that will bring these votes to the right and will serve as a “Jewish anchor” in the next coalition.

Contrary to all the rumors, I left the Jewish Home party despite the fact that I knew of two main surveys that determined that I would achieve a high spot in the primaries for the Jewish Home Knesset list. Also, I joined my friend Eli Yishai for the establishment of "The People Are With Us" only after making sure I would not harm party financing funds for the Jewish Home, which would have been unacceptable to me, and it was important for me to make sure to do things the right way.

Finally I will clarify that unity within Religious-Zionism was relevant to me as long as the Jewish Home Party really defined itself as Religious-Zionism. However, since the decision now is to be an Israeli right-wing party, true unity is precisely in the connection between religious, hareidi and traditional. With God's help I will do all that is in my power to achieve that goal.