Daily Israel Report

Bennett: I'm no Feminist, but...

Terminology notwithstanding, Bayit Yehudi head says it is good for Israel to advance women.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 10/1/2013, 12:02 PM

Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett expressed satisfaction Monday with the fact that a woman is heading the party's list in the municipal elections at Givat Ze'ev. The candidate is Ilana Dror, a senior manager at the Central Bureau of Statistics.

"I am very pleased that the list at Givat Ze'ev is headed by a woman,” he said at an event in support of Dror, held at a private home in the community, which is located just north and west of Jerusalem.

"We still have a considerable way to go on this matter, in religious Zionism,” he said, in reference to the advancement of women.

In a visit to nearby Maaleh Adumim, where a woman is second on the list, Bennett said: “I am not a feminist, but in my company, more than half of the managers were women, not because I am a feminist, but because they were excellent and it was in the interest of the company. Including women is in the interest of the state.”

Bennett also stressed the importance of having secular people in the party's lists. “It is no secret that for many years, the National Religious Party was a sectorial party,” he said, in a reference to the party that was Bayit Yehudi's predecessor as religious Zionists' main political home.

"Nowadays, on the national level, we are no longer second-rate. We know how to lead in the military and in the business world. There is no longer a need for a purely sectorial party. Our aim is not to sit in the back seat of the bus anymore, but to put a hand on the steering wheel – and we succeeded in this mission. We are not the only hand, but we have a hand on the wheel.”

Naftali Bennett himself is probably the most prominent current exemplar of a religious Zionist who has excelled both in the military and business fields. He is an officer in the IDF's most elite infantry unit, Sayeret Matkal, and co-founded a very successful hi-tech company. Israel's military was seen as primarily secular until recent decades, in which religious Zionists have become very prominent in its ranks.

The field of hi-tech, too, has a distinctly secular image. While religious people are making inroads into that field as well, they still have a way to go, as a recent Hack-a-Thon for Israel showed. The event was held on Shabbat.