Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer
Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer Courtesy
Before the most recent Israel national elections, I was asked by many of my readers, and by others who regard my judgment as worthwhile, how I recommend they vote. I endorsed Yamina. This was my thinking:

1. The election might have ended up in yet another stalemate. However, if a government would be formed, the lead government partner probably would have been Likud, and Binyamin Netanyahu probably would have emerged as prime minister.

2. Bibi, to my mind, has a history of campaigning solidly on the right, promising steps aimed at attracting religious Zionist votes away from traditional conservative, right-wing, and Orthodox parties. As a result, he occasionally has attracted much of Yamina’s and Smotrich’s bases of support, as well as voters from Bayit Yehudi (the traditional Mafdal religious Zionist base that sat out this last election) and even the Haredi UTJ and Shas parties. However, once he wins those votes, he repeatedly backs off from his promises, election after election, and shifts away from solid right-wing towards a reduced and diluted center-right position when the time comes actually to govern.

3. Thus, he has campaigned on a promise to annex the Jordan Valley. He had maps, made promises, even generated an international outcry. However, once in office, he backtracked. Likewise, he regularly promises to increase building communities and housing in Judea and Samaria, but once in office he slows it to a snail’s pace. And so on. This is his electoral M.O.

4. In the prior government, Naftali Bennett truly did a splendid job as Defense Minister, and Ayelet Shaked did very nicely in the government before that as Justice Minister, finally acting as the first Justice Minister in Israel’s history to change the direction of judicial appointments meaningfully to the right.

5. In any event, “Yamina” means — literally — “right wing.” Bennett, I reasoned, surely would not use his seats to form a government with leftists like Labor, Meretz, and outright Muslim Brotherhood Arabs. He even promised he would not govern alongside Yair Lapid.

6. My followers and I are dyed-in-the-wool religious Zionists. We believe G-d rules the world exactly as the Torah — the Written Law and Oral Law — teaches. G-d gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish people as an eternal inheritance. Israel must never cede an inch of Judea or Samaria. With almost 800,000 Jews now living “beyond the green line,” it now is imperative to increase the population of Jews living in East Jerusalem and the rest of Judea and Samaria to one million. The Negev belongs to Jews, too, and illegal homes built there by Arabs should not be connected to public utilities, but Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria should be. Same as to all of Area C. If Jews want to plant trees in the Negev, they should plant.

7. Moreover, as religious Jews, my followers and I regard Torah as supreme.

-Public transportation should not run on Shabbat.

-The so-called “religious status quo” must be preserved.

-Chametz (leavened food) should not be allowed in hospitals or the army during Passover.

-The Chief Rabbinate must be fixed and improved, but foremost it must be protected and preserved.

Judaism is the basis for Israel; Torah is what distinguishes Israel from being a Hebrew-speaking Portugal. The Kotel is a holy site where non-Orthodox forms of worship must be banned, just as Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and other forms of alien worship are not conducted at the Kotel.

Similarly, 3300 years of Judaism define a Jew as someone born of a Jewish mother or who converts to Judaism according to the halakhic standards set by centuries of mainstream, normative rabbinic rulings. Judaism is not a game of forum shopping for an outlier rabbi, though he be even a revered scholar, whose interesting outlier opinion diverges from all accepted mainstream rabbinic authority.

Fortunately, I reasoned, Yamina not only is a right-wing party but also rooted — from its very founding — in adherence to halakha. In fact, its leader Naftali Bennett wears a yarmulka, observes Shabbat and kashrut, and is by all measures an Orthodox Jew.

8. I deeply oppose the bogus prosecution of Netanyahu on supposed crimes that truly are not crimes in any country that is normal. On the other hand, I do not trust Bibi one bit to honor his word on anything. Because I do not trust Netanyahu — not when he campaigns, not when he speaks, not when he tweets, not even when he talks in his sleep — I wanted Naftali Bennett and Yamina to emerge from the elections with the stength this time to hold Netanyahu to his campaign pledges, for Bennett to continue as Defense Minister, and for a right-wing Justice Minister to assure the appointment of right-wing Supreme Court justices and right-wing district judges.

Thus, I reasoned, a strong Yamina could threaten every single day to break up a Likud/Netanyahu-led government any time it deviates leftward.

Based on the above considerations, I endorsed Bennett and urged my followers in Israel to vote Yamina. I would note that Caroline Glick once even ran under his banner [before departing from his perfidy ].

Unfortunately, to my enormous dismay, Bennett stole those votes and tens of thousands of others.

Undoubtedly, some of his 273,836 voters approve his decision to have formed a coalition with Lapid, Labor, Meretz, and Mansour Abbas’s Ra’am Muslim Brotherhood-associated party because they share Bennett’s stated view that the highest priority for Yamina was to prevent the need for the country to go to yet another round of elections.

In that case, he should have changed his party’s name to “Last Elections” (perhaps “Bechirot Sofiyot” or “B.S.” for an acronym), and he should have campaigned clearly that way. Instead, he promised “Yamina” — a right-wing government.

Amichai Chikli
Amichai Chikli i24NEWS

I regard Amichai Chikli right now as a political hero. It is possible, in the months or years to come, that he will disappoint me as much as all the others do. But right now he has acted bravely. When Idit Silman decided miraculously to jump from Yamina next, Bennett realized he needed to act more decisively against Chikli, making an example of him by branding him a “Defector.”

That designation almost surely will keep Chikli out of the next Knesset unless he forms a new party, though he argues compellingly that the Anti-Defector Law was meant to deter sleazy Knesset members who sell out their parties for personal gain — like the low-lifes whom Yitzchak Rabin bribed to support his disastrous Oslo agreement, buying them off with cars and cabinet-level appointments. Here, by contrast, Chikli has acted from conscience and has not received any personal benefit, only isolation and political quarantine.

Regardless, the penalty is not all that bad. In time, his courageous image will be sought by another party, and he can be appointed to some plum government role in the meantime. Meanwhile, he should not stand alone. So, for the record, like Amichai Chikli, I also am a proud Yamina Defector.

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