Habayit Hayehudi took two steps on Sunday and Monday that could discourage
immigrants from English-speaking countries from participating in its November
primary. Its election committee ruled out reserving a slot for an immigrant and
the committee’s chairman said ballots would only be available in
The election committee turned down a proposal, submitted by MK
Zevulun Orlev, that would have conditionally reserved the fifth slot on the
Knesset candidates list.
There are currently no immigrants from
Russian-speaking countries running for seats on the Habayit Hayehudi list. But
American natives Ari Abramowitz and Jeremy Gimpel are running, as is Yehuda
David, who moved to Israel from France.
“There is a limit to how many
reserved slots you can have,” said the head of the election committee, Rabbi
Daniel Tropper. “In addition to slots reserved for a woman and a young
candidate, Sephardim also wanted a reserved slot. In a primary, we cannot take
away people’s right to choose.”
Orlev called the committee’s decision
“unfortunate and mistaken,” but said he would accept it and that he hoped an
immigrant would rank high on the party’s list without a reserved
Asked whether ballots in the primary would be available in multiple
languages, Tropper said having ballots in languages other than Hebrew could make
it hard for the party’s computer system to scan and count votes.
know that there is a substantial non-Hebrew speaking voting population out there
we might have to consider it, but I personally think immigrants have the
rudimentary knowledge needed to vote,” Tropper said.
Gimpel said he would
meet with election committee officials this week in an effort to persuade them
to make ballots available in multiple languages.
“We want Habayit
Hayehudi to open its arms to the English-speaking community,” he
“Being as inclusive as possible will help the party get more votes
in the general election, so it’s in Habayit Hayehudi’s interests to facilitate
In a step that could help enable immigrants
to join the party, Tropper said the party could accept membership forms
submitted in English.
When immigrants complained to Abramowitz and Gimpel
that they could not understand Hebrew membership forms, they created English
forms themselves but had members sign Hebrew forms as well just in
The election committee decided to change course and allow members
to vote for five candidates in the November 13 Knesset primary after it had
earlier decided on three. Members can give four points to their top choice, two
to their second-favorite candidate and one each to their third through
The committee also decided to retroactively approve some 1,500
membership forms submitted by telemarketers employed by party leadership
candidate Naftali Bennett that had been challenged. Those members will be sent
emails asking if they approved the party’s bylaws. According to the committee’s
decision, such members will only be disqualified if they answer
They will be counted if they do not respond.
day and age this is a legitimate way to join a party,” Tropper said.