No fear of Religious Zionist primaries: Let the people decide

There is a battle raging in the Religious Zionist movement, which consists of at least three parties, over whether to have primaries.

David Rubin

OpEds Jewish Home party convenes
Jewish Home party convenes
David Rubin

The new election season, the third a year, has revealed a silver lining on behalf of true democracy. Politicians should take notice and take action.

The right-of-center Likud is in the midst of a snap election campaign for primaries that are scheduled for December 26. Prime Minister Netanyahu is to be commended for agreeing to face his contender Gideon Saar in the primary, despite his incumbency and certain desire to run again without opposition within his party. 

However, the people decided, and the Likud, as a democratic movement, determined that the membership will determine the leadership.

To the right of the Likud, there is a battle raging in the Religious Zionist movement, which consists of at least three parties – Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home), Ichud Leumi (National Union), and Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power), with the New Right party of Naftali Bennet and Ayelet Shaked currently planning on running alone, with the possibility of joining later. Recent polls have revealed that approximately 80% of the religious Zionist public wants the leadership and list of this important movement to be selected through open primaries. Sadly, at least a few of the influential party hacks in the Jewish Home party have been struggling to cling to their individual power by refusing to hold primaries.

They apparently believe that only the party hacks have the wisdom to select its leadership. On Monday, such an arrogant announcement was made, through an incredible statement rejecting primaries, stating, “right now it is a task which we cannot gather together for, whether because the New Right will not take part in it, or whether out of concern that the face of Religious Zionism may change."

Ah, so the hacks know better than the people. The self-appointed elite of the Jewish Home party should know better. The people are not fools and won’t allow such deception to go unanswered. A primary empowers the people, thereby strengthening the party and creating vibrancy, by giving its membership the right to choose its representatives. Fear of losing a primary is a poor excuse for turning a once vibrant movement into a Bolshevik old boys club (It should be mentioned that Blue and White, Yisrael Beytenu, UTJ and Shas do not have primaries.In the first case, an inside group selected candidates, in the second Liberman does so by himself, UTJ and Shas consult with thei respective Rabbinic Councils to ensure candidates who are suitable religiously).

The result of such a near-sighted policy, if enacted, will be more division in, and a weakening of the Religious Zionist camp. Without a free and open primary for the Religious Zionist public, some voters will flee to the Likud and others to the New Right, which would subsequently avoid a union with a declared party of political hacks. 

This is, indeed, the moment of truth for the Jewish Home. Let the people decide!




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