The Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party has chosen its candidates for city council in the city of Haifa, a former socialist stronghold that has been moving to the right over the past decade.
Party members Shai Blumenthal, Paz Glickman and Galit Amihud were chosen to head the list.
Blumenthal is the current deputy Mayor of Haifa.
Glickman, an attorney, formerly played a major role in making the notoriously secular and left-wing University of Haifa more friendly to religious Jewish students with a religious-Zionist “core group” on campus.
Amihud, a teacher and community activist, was born and raised in the Hadar neighborhood. The central Hadar area fell into disrepair following a shift in demographics, but has been making a comeback in recent years; Amihud has been among the activists working to restore the neighborhood’s infrastructure and resources.
The effort to improve Hadar is part of the battle for Haifa, Amihud told Arutz Sheva. “There’s only one center to the city, which has to be Hadar, nothing else makes sense. Without a city center it’s not a city,” she explained.
Bayit Yehudi plans to work on behalf of Hadar and other troubled neighborhoods along with the rest of Haifa, she said.
Neighborhood residents said they were pleased to see a Hadar native on the list. “I’m very excited,” Hadar resident Ilana told Arutz Sheva. “I think it’s great that someone from our community is in a position to be in power in Haifa, to help the neighborhood and the city.”
“I’m also really excited it’s a woman,” she added.
Haifa was formerly a Labor party stronghold, but over the past decade has become increasingly right-wing. The staunchly secular Shinui-Green party is the largest on the current city council, and Likud is in second place.
Bayit Yehudi is hoping to increase its local representation to at least three of the 31 city council seats. The party succeeded in doubling its power at the national level in the last elections, but may face opposition in the largely secular city of Haifa.
Secular residents of Haifa have nothing to fear from a traditional Jewish party, Amihud said. “A free city and a Jewish city are one and the same,” she declared.