Bennett Flash 90

Yisrael Harel, founder of the Yesha Council, formerly the editor of Nekuda and now a commentator in Haaretz, hopes that the New Right party will survive.

"I still wish Bennett and Ayelet will pass. There are quite a few of us who are happy about Naftali Bennett's bad luck. Bennett really did a bad move in the way it was done because, in essence, it was positive, but the way it was done left a bitter taste.

"But a person so talented who did a lot of things for religious Zionism and for security, education and many other things - it’s a shame that he should remain outside the political system. I do not speak of Ayelet, who has a place in Likud, but if Bennett leaves, I find it difficult to see how he would come back. Israeli politics is losing a very talented person."

According to Harel, many religious Zionists do not see themselves in the religious Zionist lists because they do not want to be like the haredim, who are subordinated to the rabbis. "I, too, as a Bnei Akiva [religious Zionist youth movement] graduate, do not want too much influence of the rabbis. We are not ready to be haredim whom the Council of Torah Sages tells what to do and, even if it is not official, the influence of the rabbis on the conduct of the politicians is decisive.”

"Sometimes the interests of the rabbis and their institutions influenced, as it was at the time of the Uprooting from Gush Katif when the rabbis separated us, who opposed and fought, from the forces because they had to keep their budgets. They did not show national leadership but rather interested sectoral leadership, and most of the sector does not accept this. The rabbis should be the moral leaders and not the political leaders."

Harel believes that, despite the election results, there is no room for feelings of regret following the elections. "True, it is sad that the United Right list received only five Knesset seats and Bennett and Shaked are apparently out, but religious Zionism has achieved very significant achievements. In the past, there weren’t kippa-wearers in other parties [besides the religious Zionist party], but the Likud today has more kippot than the United Right does. Today there are representatives of religious Zionism in almost all the parties, including in Blue and White, people like Hili Tropper, a religious Zionist in his entire being who did things that religious Zionism can take pride in. The kippa-wearers in Likud today are the elite group and their influence is great - all this didn’t exist before.”

Hebrew audio:

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