The Jewish Home party held a press conference on Wednesday to introduce its candidates and positions. During the conference MK Zevulun Orlev spoke out against “hilltop youth” and “Marzels,” saying they had no place in the religious-Zionist camp.
Orlev, formerly head of the National Religious Party, began by telling reporters that the Jewish Home seeks to join the country's leadership, not oppose it. There is no place in the party for those who throw stones during protests or who refuse to enlist in the IDF, he said.
The party will be “without 'hilltop youth,' without [Rabbi Meir] Kahane and without all kinds of Marzels,” he said, the latter being a reference to Baruch Marzel of the Jewish Front faction, which has joined with other nationalist factions to form HaTikvah-National Union (NU).
A report asked Orlev if his rejection of Marzel, followers of Rabbi Kahane and the “hilltop youth” contradicted the spirit of religious-Zionist unity promoted by the Jewish Home. “Marzel and the hilltop youth desecrate the name of religious Zionism,” Orlev responded. “He who throws rocks at IDF soldiers, curses and fights the state of Israel, is not part of religious Zionism. That's why we not only pray for the country but give our lives for it.”
Jewish Home head Rabbi-Professor Daniel Heshkowitz also spoke at the gathering. The party's primary goal is to improve education in Israel and to bring back Jewish values and identity, he said.
Hershkowitz, Orlev and candidate Uri Orbach criticized some factions of HaTikvah-National Union for forming an independent party after agreeing to join the Jewish Home. There was no ideological basis for the split, Hershkowitz said. “To my regret, I realize that the conflict is not ideological. The land of Israel is no less important to me—and maybe more important—than it is to any member of the National Union,” he said.
National Union: We'll Join After the Elections
Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh), head of the National Union, responded to criticism of his party by expressing sympathy for the Jewish Home. “I understand the pain of the National Religious Party, which has been left alone and sees forces uniting around the National Union,” he said.
Despite the criticism against the NU, he hopes for the Jewish Home's success, he continued. “We call on kippah wearers who vote for Labor, Meimad and Kadima and who identify with Zevulun Orlev's ideas to strengthen the Jewish Home,” he said.
The National Union will be happy to include the Jewish Home in a nationalist voting block after the elections, Ketzaleh concluded.
Other members of the party were less sympathetic. “That schemer and quarrel-monger should take off his shoes before attacking the Jewish hero Baruch Marzel, who gave and continues to give his all for the IDF and the land of Israel, and unlike Orlev gave up a spot in the Knesset for the sake of unity,” a Jewish Front spokesman said of Orlev.
MK Aryeh Eldad, the founder of HaTikvah, pointed out that the NU had wished the Jewish Home success at an earlier press conference. “At a press conference held by what remains of one party after a failed attempt to disguise itself as a party representing religious Zionism as a whole, its representatives came to sling mud,” Eldad said.