Habayit Hayehudi completed its membership drive at midnight between Sunday and
Monday with about 40,000 people joining the religious- Zionist
When the drive ended, all three candidates for the party
leadership claimed their pieces of the membership pie. When added up, the 30,000
claimed by MK Zevulun Orlev, 26,000 by Naftali Bennett and 15,000 by Science and
Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz totals 71,000 members.
running for Knesset with the party also say they have signed up thousands of
members not included in the 71,000 claimed by the leadership candidates. Former
MK Nissan Slomiansky claimed close to 10,000 and American-born candidates Jeremy
Gimpel and Ari Abramowitz about 3,000.
The party will now work on
publishing its membership list by September 20. After that, it will be clear
which candidates were telling the truth.
“The drive has been proven a big
success,” said the party’s election committee chairman, Rabbi Daniel Tropper.
“It shows there has been a great awakening in religious Zionism.”
confirmed that more than 21,000 people joined online, by far the most who ever
joined a party via the Internet during a primary. Bennett claimed to have
personally signed up 21,226 people via his website.
“We’ve already made
history,” said Tropper.
Now that the drive is done, the candidates can
rest a bit before getting ready for the November 6 leadership race and the
November 13 contest for the party’s Knesset list.
Gimpel and Abramowitz,
whose 3,000 members could potentially make them kingmakers in the leadership
race, said they would consult with Israel’s rabbis, thinkers and opinion-makers
before deciding which leadership contender to endorse or whether to remain
independent. They said they would not endorse a candidate who is not committed
to ensuring that all religious- Zionist parties run together in the next general
“The only way to advance religious Zionism is to have one
united bloc,” Gimpel said.
“I want to coerce them into signing that they
will run together. If I can do that, it’s more important than getting into the
Gimpel said he gave the leadership candidates the benefit of
the doubt that they are counting each other’s supporters in their membership
totals rather than outright lying. He said that after working hard to sign up as
many people as possible, he was glad to finally get some rest.
been living on energy drinks and Snickers bars for the past few weeks,” he said.
“I don’t ever remember working this hard.”