Daily Israel Report

Third Contender Challenges Orlev, Bennet

We have no photo of Yehuda Cohen, the new challenger in Jewish Home primary race, because that is how he wants it.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 10/30/2012, 7:56 PM

Jewish Home candidates
Jewish Home candidates
Israel news photo

Since Minister Daniel Hershkovitz dropped out of the race to head the Bayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party, talk has focused on the two front-running candidates, newcomer Naftali Bennet and MK Zevulun Orlev.

However, there is still a third candidate in the race: Yehuda Cohen, an educator from Jerusalem. Cohen spoke to Arutz Sheva this week in his first media interview since entering the race.

“I decided to run because of my understanding that the religious community has reached a crossroads between becoming the tail end of the Likud, in both spiritual and practical terms, and taking leadership of the country and the nation when it comes to security, justice, education, and so forth,” he explained.

Cohen, of Jerusalem, is a biologist and teaches biology in the religious school system. He has a daughter in national service and younger children in school.

He previously worked in research and development in the field of biotechnology, and also took part in building the Visitors’ Center in the City of David. He has volunteered for the Mafdal (National Religious Party), which later became the Jewish Home party, but is not among the party’s better-known activists.

Despite his disadvantage as a virtually unknown candidate, Cohen was adamant that he does not plan to cut deals with others in the party. “I don’t plan to cut deals, so the option for support from public figures is down to a few special people,” he said.

In addition, he said he does not plan to badmouth his competitors. “The other candidates can express themselves at least as well as I can, and they did not ask me to be their spokesman,” he said.

Cohen said he is not worried about his lack of political experience. “There have been those who succeeded and those who failed among both the experienced and the inexperienced,” he said. “There are different types of experience, and different types of politics.”

He is also not deterred by the fact that he has not been included in elections polls. “Publicly assessing the odds is a propaganda tool used to scare opponents in any human competition,” he argued.

His primary platform is “deeds, not ideology,” he related. He has declined to release his picture for publication. “I’m not running to be a model,” he said. “Who does the picture even represent? The candidate? The hair stylist? The tailor? The photoshop program?”

Cohen said he might publish his picture as elections grow closer, but for now, will continue to campaign as he has to date – quietly, through face-to-face meetings, with no pictures or public relations involved.