Where to, Naftali Bennett?

The Jewish Home-National Union party is at a crossroads.

Former MK Yaakov Katz

OpEds נפגשו. בנט ונתניהו
נפגשו. בנט ונתניהו
פלאש 90

If Naftali Bennett is planning on becoming Israel's prime minister one day, it might be a good idea for him to join up with former Likud minister Gideon Sa'ar, Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) or Yvette Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) in order to increase his chances of being chosen.

But he would do well to remember that the potential Jewish Home-National Union voter base is looking for leaders who have something to offer beyond charisma, gift of the gab, political savvy and a horde of advisors planning their every move. It demands and expects someone whose idealism is deeply ingrained in his character and has been evident in his actions over a long period.

That is the reason that in the elections for the 19th Knesset three years ago, a time of great hopes and dreams of change, the Jewish Home-National Union attained 12 Knesset seats while in the elections held only a year ago for the 20th Knesset it went down to a mere 8 seats. What happened was that when those voters looking for a man of stature to lead the country had to decide between two politicians who seemed to be characterized by overwhelming personal ambition, they chose the original rather than the imitation.

The Religious Zionist public makes up the majority of those who vote Jewish Home-National Union, all of them connected to some extent to rabbinic figures who are the source of spiritual strength and educational guidance. When, for various reasons, the Religious Zionist rabbis ceased to be the spiritual and ideological backbone and basis of the Jewish Home-National Union party, those who took their place were good looking, smooth-tongued media personalities with kippot on their heads, confident of their ability to promote politicians or destroy them at whim. Just recently, these all-knowing stars have informed us that leftist Yair Lapid has become a sincere right winger willing to sacrifice his very soul for the land of Israel and that Yitzchak Herzog is now a centrist absolutely nauseated by the same left that was his pride and joy just a few days ago.

Lapid and Herzog, of course, have not changed an iota. What is actually changing is the character of the people living in this country who are gradually becoming more patriotic, idealistic – and careful. In the framework of this political game, with the thinking public smack in the middle of it, politicians, advisors and journalists are forced to deceive, scattering promises they have no intention of keeping. If the naïve public swallows these falsehoods hook, line and sinker, it may in the end get another meal consisting of Netanyahu as the entree and his imitators as side dishes. Netanyahu is much more adept than his imitators at political maneuvering.

One of the basic truths about politics is that one must be wise enough to preserve idealistic aspirations within a hard reality that does not always allow them to be realized. But "when there is no vision, the people perish" (Proverbs 29:18), and those leading our wonderful people must, first and foremost, prove themselves as men of vision and deeds.

The banner of the Religious Zionist-National Union party leadership must be raised by idealists, people of integrity and spirit, leaders moved by the spirit of Jewish heritage and tradition.   

Translated from the Hebrew Arutz Sheva site by Rochel Sylvetsky, Arutz Sheva Op-ed and Judaism editor.