Daily Israel Report

Bennett’s First Speech: ‘Fearless Leadership’

Naftali Bennett takes on tycoons, unions and the Rabbinate in his first Knesset speech, and calls for “fearless leadership.”
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 2/12/2013, 8:27 PM

Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Naftali Bennett, head of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party, focused on challenging the status quo in his first speech in the Knesset on Tuesday afternoon.

“For the first time we have 47 new Knesset members, a record number, which creates an interesting mix of public representatives who are not chained down by obligations: to those who bought votes, to the tycoons, to union workers, or to ideological stagnation,” he began.

“We can make partnerships that we used to think were impossible, in order to bring the nation of Israel to achievements we used to think were impossible,” he declared.

What Israel is hoping for, he said, is “a generation of fearless leadership.”

Bennett then launched into a series of challenges to the status quo of financial, political and religious power. He began by calling to pass a law aimed at ending monopolies and increasing competition in the marketplace.

“I don’t hate tycoons, but our cost of living cannot be set by wealthy people holding several strings at once as if in a puppet theater,” he said. “They hold several of the groups and businesses that control our lives at the same time. It’s dangerous… And all we need is the courage to stop it.”

He continued with an example, “We all know that the monopoly on the ports does critical damage to the entire state of Israel. There are powerful committees that hold the entire country hostage, that shut down a port for two days over nonsense.

“But nobody is ready to take them on. Because there is a political price. So let us be the ones to do it. Let us have the courage,” he urged.

The same issue can be seen in Israel’s religious establishment, he said. “Friends, let’s admit the truth: the religious services in Israel have become a giant apparatus for producing jobs, which creates alienation.”

“It’s no wonder that one-third of couples marry outside the Rabbinate,” he added. “Let’s have the courage to turn the religious services into a center for true Judaism that will be a light for the entire nation.”

“Yes, it’s true, friends, we don’t agree on everything,” Bennett noted. “But seventy percent of Israel agrees on seventy percent of the issues – so let’s do it! Let’s not be afraid.”