New religious Zionist police recruits
New religious Zionist police recruits Yoni Kempinski

Religious Zionism holds an esteemed place in Israel for its service to the nation – in the IDF, in the National Service civilian program for girls, in the vast network of yeshivot, mechinot, and midrashot - strengthening Torah learning and commitment to Judaism. Furthermore, the dedication and self-sacrifice of this sector in the rebuilding of the Land of Israel receives occasional praise from the secular Zionists of the Likud and from the haredi non-Zionists.

The images of Prime Minister Netanyahu (Likud) visiting the pioneering Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and planting trees are legendary, as are the periodic public statements supporting Jewish growth in Judea and Samaria, recently repeated by MK Meir Porush (UTJ). The problem is that we hear the praise, and we receive the visits, mainly during election campaigns. Can these words of praise be trusted?

Netanyahu, as a master campaigner, has always viewed the Religious Zionist public as a prime target for votes, even if his policies in action usually don’t reflect his rhetoric. In every election, he has succeeded in cutting substantially into the votes of the flagship national-religious parties that don’t just express, but also advocate for the values of this Torah-true community.

Similarly, Porush of the UTJ has learned from the Likud master well, and in this election campaign, Porush is now taking the low road, blasting MK Bezalel Smotrich's Religious Zionism party for supporting National Service for girls, and proclaiming, “How dare they market such a party to the haredi public?” In other words, it’s okay for a non-Zionist or even anti-Zionist party to appeal to the national-religious public for votes, but when the Religious Zionism party, which sees the value of a year of national service to the people of Israel, appeals to haredim for votes, that is suddenly chutzpah!

Smotrich, to his credit, has been mainly focused on the positive. After all, he has consistently been recognized as an extraordinarily serious parliamentarian by most politicians across the political spectrum, many of whom don’t share his consistently right-wing policy positions. Likewise, his former colleagues in the Yamina party have received similar praise for their professional dedication to serving the public, but unfortunately, they have toned down their public passion in this campaign for the traditional Religious Zionist positions.

After a couple of months of speaking only about Corona and the economy, Yamina leader Naftali Bennett, in an obvious last-ditch appeal for votes from his former base, is now speaking more about the usual right-wing positions, since his main rival, who he hopes to surpass, Gideon Saar of the New Hope party, is mainly appealing to centrist, more secular voters.

Meanwhile, Religious Zionism is an ideological party composed of several components. Smotrich and his party represent the traditional national-religious base, advocating fiercely for all of the idealistic values cited above, plus aggressively promoting an end to judicial rule of the radical Left, while calling for a true separation of powers, more similar to the American system, particularly between the legislative and judicial branches. The smaller factions running under the Religious Zionism umbrella are attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir’s more hawkish Otzma Yehudit, plus the socially conservative Noam faction, which places great emphasis on traditional Jewish identity and values, including a special focus on encouraging the traditional Jewish family.

All told, the Religious Zionism Party (letter "ט" on the voting ballot) is is a broad values-based party with a range of views, but all fall under the unapologetic umbrella of those who recognize G-d’s hand in the Jewish revival in Eretz Yisrael.

The Religious Zionist public has long played the patsy, often confusing its loyalty to the State of Israel with support for the values of secular Zionism and for some, support for the far less nationalistic Torah values of the haredi public. In this election, it’s time for the national-religious public to vote with its own values. Religious Zionists should be proud of what they believe in, and, finally, vote according to the national-religious idealism of those beliefs. Will that finally happen on March 23rd?

David Rubin, former Mayor of Shiloh Israel, is the author of the book, “Trump and the Jews” and five other books. Rubin is the founder and president of Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund, established after he and his then three-year-old son were wounded in a terror attack. He can be found at www.DavidRubinIsrael.com or at www.ShilohIsraelChildren.org .