Following the announcement by Jewish Home party head Rabbi Rafi Peretz that he intends to hold internal party primaries in the event that elections are called in the near future, Arutz Sheva spoke with former Jewish Home MK Motti Yogev, asking him for his opinion on the future of the party and of the status of Religious Zionism in the State of Israel in general.
“First of all, it’s important that we know exactly what the Jewish Home party should be,” Yogev said. “What we need is a Religious Zionist party that operates honestly and transparently, that aspires to unite its supporters and involve the community. When we attain this goal – and it has yet to be attained – we’ll be able to turn to the general public and ask that they restore their faith in us. Ours is a party that used to be at the forefront of Israeli society but in recent years has descended to a historic low point with less than half of a percent of Israeli society supporting it.”
Yogev expressed his view that, “Religious Zionism needs to raise its banner and once again become a leading force in society, and not remain in the degraded position in which it currently finds itself. Personally, I feel a great sense of responsibility to achieve this. What should be done in order to attain this goal? Let’s first wait and see if elections are actually going to be held,” he noted. “I very much hope that they can still be averted, but if not, and the Jewish Home holds primaries, I will definitely be considering how best to participate in order to raise Religious Zionism to the place it rightly deserves in Israeli society.”
Although he did not win a Knesset seat in the last elections, Yogev is actually second on the Jewish Home’s party list. “The head of the party and the director of the party’s committee downgraded my position in the party using underhand tactics and various devious means – they did not show responsibility and did not learn the lessons of the past,” he asserted.
“It should be obvious that in order to fix what went wrong, we need to be in a position of influence,” he added. “Otherwise, nothing is going to change. In the past, we tried to work together with the party’s head and we supported Rabbi Rafi Peretz and did our utmost to have him appointed Education Minister, but ultimately we gained nothing from our cooperation. In the future, if I stand for election in the primaries, I will stand for the chairmanship,” he added.
Yogev was asked if he would consider joining the Yamina party (which Jewish Home split from in order to join the unity government) or even another party, if he concludes that he cannot bring about the changes he feels are necessary from within the Jewish Home. “Religious Zionism is not just about a single personality,” he said. “My personal view is that the values of the Jewish People and of Religious Zionism are above all political considerations, and that these are the values that should be guiding the State, with both strength and humility. The Jewish Home is my political home, despite all that has happened, and so I will be aiming initially to achieve our goals via the party, but the values upon which the party was founded are what will determine how we act going forward.”
Responding to Yogev’s comments, the office of Jewish Home party head Rafi Peretz issued a statement saying that, “At the present time, we are engaged in an effort to unite our supporters and prepare for democratic elections for the party’s Knesset list. It would be better if those intending to stand for a position on the party’s list would refrain from making public statements to the media, and would instead focus their energies on strengthening the party from within. Only in this way can we regain the public’s trust in us.”