With national elections less than two months away, the fight for the religious voter has become nasty.
First to take off the gloves was the new HaTikva party, led by MK Prof. Aryeh Eldad, who is currently a Knesset Member for the National Union. HaTikva placed advertisements in news outlets that serve the religious public, in which the National Religious Party (NRP) is mocked as being 'Kadima with a kippah' – that is, a dovish liberal party for the religious public.
HaTikva's banner advertisements lead to a website which quotes some recent statements by Prof. Daniel Hershkovitz, the NRP's new leader. Hershkovitz said in a news conference that the NRP is neither a right-wing party nor a left-wing party. Hershkovitz also said that the party's Knesset members would enjoy freedom to vote according to their conscience on matters pertaining to the diplomatic process and that the question of territorial concessions is a 'pragmatic' one on which people have differing opinions.
"The NRP and [MK Zevulun] Orlev have completely buried the National Union," the advertisement proclaims. "The Jewish Home is not a nationalist party… Hershkovitz even refused to commit himself to opposing a retreat from the Golan. Do you really feel at home in a party like that?"
Prof. Hershkovitz was quick to respond to the new campaign. "After he failed to receive a reserved slot in the Jewish Home and in view of the results of all the polls, Aryeh Eldad is responding 'hysterically' and slinging mud at the heads of the NRP."
MK Eldad was quick to hit back, however, and said that "Hershkovitz and [MK Zevulun] Orlev lost five Knesset seats in the past two weeks." He was alluding to the fact that the NRP has dropped from nine Knesset Members to four projected members in the latest poll.
Eldad noted that the statements he quoted were made by Hershkovitz himself and therefore could not be termed "cheap personal attacks."