Op-Ed: Where Has the Orange Camp Gone?
Dr. Ron BreimanDr. Ron Breiman is former chairman of Professors for a Strong Israel and represents the Hatikva faction in the National Union party.
The Orange Camp is a name given to the lovers of the Land of Israel.
Following the elections in 2006, I wrote about the Orange Camp's missed opportunity of attracting secular sympathizers. Namely, about the loss of votes of secular lovers of the Land of Israel, not because there are none,
The list is explicitly defined in a written agreement as a nationalist-Jewish list (and not a national-religious one).
but because the election campaign did not target them at all. Criticism directed at the joint list of the Ichud Leumi (National Union) and the Mafdal (National Religious Party) was that it consciously preferred to only target the religious electorate, placed a sole candidate who does not wear a skullcap in its list as a 'token secular' (Prof. Arieh Eldad), and was satisfied with its small share of the electorate, instead of targeting additional thousands of potential voters.
Consequently, as a lesson learned from this failure, my colleagues and I established the Hatikva (the Hope) Party, mainly as an address for the Orange secular public. There was no available data about this sector's size, only estimates. We promised concerned members and sympathizers that if there was a risk that Hatikva would not pass the voting threshold, then the party would not run independently, in order to prevent their votes going down the drain. Thus, the Ichud Leumi (National Union) list was established just before the election. The list is explicitly defined in a written agreement as a nationalist-Jewish list (and not a national-religious one). It consists of four parties that maintain their uniqueness and independence, including Hatikva. Our candidates were placed in the third (Eldad) and eighth slot (the undersigned) in the joint list.
Unfortunately, the opportunity was missed. Albert Einstein defined insanity as the tendency to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. Would it not be appropriate to apply this saying in reference to the rerun of the Ichud Leumi as a religious list again, although it is not defined as such, while ignoring the many thousands of secular people loyal to the Land of Israel? It was a conscious and erroneous giving up of their votes. I warned time and again that giving up these votes can result in the loss of the Land of Israel. However, mine was a voice crying in the wilderness to those who announce that they obey their rabbis, think and speak a 'Mafdal' language, even when they did not run on a joint list with the Mafdal. The outcome: a list which could not be marketed to the public in the Tel Aviv and the Center regions, and a meager achievement in the election - only four members of Knesset.
It appears that we will never have accurate data on what would have caused a greater loss of votes: Hatikva running independently and not passing the vote threshold, or joining forces with religious parties that deter the secular electorate.
Another element which either attracted or lost votes is the participation of the Eretz Israel Shelanu (Our Land of Israel) party in the Ichud Leumi list. Although the heads of this party - Baruch Marzel and Rabbi Wolpe - were not included in the list of the Ichud Leumi, their representative, Dr. Michael Ben-Ari, is in the fourth place. He has become a member of the Knesset. It is not clear what is greater in terms of numbers, the gain or the loss, the addition of voters or the deterrence of potential voters.
Unsurprisingly, the media began to attack this element in the Ichud Leumi and present it as racist, fascist, Kahanist, transferrist. Obviously, it is problematic, but the real problem is located somewhere else. It is not surprising that no one can identify the intention of any element in the 'right-wing camp' to perform a violent transfer of people from their homes. Yet, a violent transfer of people (Jews) was carried out less than four years ago by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with the backing of the legal system and the media. Not even one person in the legal system thought it was appropriate to act against Avshalom (Abu) Vilan, then a member of Knesset, who (in an interview with Haaretz) supported the use of live fire to expel Jews from their homes if they would not willingly be expelled. Why did the legal system, law enforcement, the self-righteous media and the so-called human rights activists keep silent at these outrageous words of this transferrist and his ilk? I have already warned about leftist fascism in the past.
The nationalist camp needs to immediately examine its methods. This is especially relevant in light of the large
It is important to begin preparations for the next elections (2011?).
number of voters who found it difficult to vote for the Likud, on the one hand, and for a list characterized as "religious" on the other. Unwillingly, they greatly contributed to the rise of Avigdor Lieberman's Israel Beiteinu party.
The Ichud Leumi was established as an improvisation just before the elections. It is important to begin preparations for the next elections (2011?) by presenting two separate lists: a national-religious one and a Zionist-nationalist one - Hatikva - in order not to miss the opportunity again. In this way, the elements which deter secular voters - political or religious extremism - would be placed in the religious list. Then Hatikva will be able to target the secular-nationalist electorate in its own language and style, presenting a list of both male and female candidates, and promising commitment to the voters - not to the rabbis. Before joining the Ichud Leumi, Hatikva had such a list.