How Much Unity?

Ben Packer,

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צילום: ערוץ 7
Ben Packer
Originally from Petersburg, Virginia, Ben Packer moved to Israel in 1999, where he served in the IDF's Givati Brigade in the Gaza Strip. Ben served as a Rabbi on campus at Univ. of North Carolina and at Duke Univ. Ben now serves as Director of the Jerusalem Heritage House (www.heritagehouse.org.il) and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives (www.youngjewishconservatives.org). He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

Every time there is an election in Israel (this year we are so blessed to have 2 in one year!), we hear all about the need for unity. However, sometimes "unity" pays off and sometimes less so. For example, for the Ashkenazic Haredi parties, unity paid off big time in the past election and they went up. However, in a previous election, the Likud ran with Avigdor Lieberman and they did not go up. In short, its not so simple. 

That brings us to the current situation of the "right-wing" parties. The main story of the recent election is not Lieberman's obstinance, its all the votes squandered by right-wing voters. Estimated at about 300,000. These were people who voted for Yamin HaChadash (Bennett and Shaked) and Zehut (Moshe Feiglin). Neither party passed the electoral threshold, despite the polls saying they both easily would, and their votes were consequently reassigned across the political spectrum. 

The obvious solution to this debacle is unity. The question is how much unity is a good thing. In my humble opinion, there are only 2 options and one (#2) seems better than the other:

1) A unified front of all small right-wing parties - Ichud HaYamin (Peretz, Smotrich), Otzma, Yamin HaChadash (Bennett, Shaked?) and Zehut. 

This sounds great, everyone gets in, but as has been pointed out by many political analysts, this could cost the right a good deal of voters who will leave to Likud or elsewhere rather than vote for the likes of Smotrich, Otzma or Zehut. There likely are also folks on the extreme right who can't bring themselves to vote for Bennett/Shaked and would possibly just not vote at all. That brings us to the second (better) option. 

2) One bloc of Smotrich, Otzma and Zehut and another of Peretz, Bennett, Shaked. This option virtually guarantees that everyone gets in, minimizes bickering and optimizes the potential for electoral success (ie. gets the most votes for the right wing) 

I have yet to see this suggested anywhere, but it makes the most sense to me.