BAYIT YEHUDI leader Naftali Bennett speaks at a campaign launch event for party candidate Ayelet Shaked in Tel Aviv December 30.
(photo credit: BAYIT YEHUDI SPOKESMAN)
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and his MKs reached out to Sephardi voters in light of divisions in Shas Tuesday night.
“This is a historic opportunity to bring Sephardi voters to Bayit Yehudi.
By the way, I’m half Iraqi,” faction chairwoman Ayelet Shaked said at her primary campaign launch event in Tel Aviv, which attracted 20 other candidates and a large crowd of supporters.
Bennett talked up the party’s Sephardi bona fides, pointing to Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, the “Sephardi symbol of Bayit Yehudi.”
Ben-Dahan, in his speech, talked about Sephardi voters’ importance to the party.
Bennett also touted his efforts to help haredim, hyping his work to create jobs for them and saying that he served as the bridge between haredim and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid to come up with a conscription bill that would be fair to the ultra-Orthodox.
“Rabbi Yohanan was a shoemaker, Rashi was a vintner and Rambam was a doctor,” he said, encouraging haredim to work. “Come home to Bayit Yehudi.”
Bennett pointed to the crowd, which included Jews, Druse and Muslims, saying that what they all have in common is that they are unequivocally in favor of the State of Israel, echoing the party’s slogan of “No apologies.”
“This election is between those who apologize and those whose heads are held high, between political correctness and truth,” he declared. “Why are people who aren’t classic religious-Zionist voters joining us? Because we are straight talkers.
“Bayit Yehudi is for those who love the people of Israel, the Land of Israel and the Torah of Israel,” he concluded, repeating a Bnei Akiva religious- Zionist youth group slogan.
Bennett seemingly succeeded in attracting nontraditional voters to his party, as Bayit Yehudi’s twoweek membership drive came to a close at midnight Tuesday, with over 20,000 new members. Several thousand joined the party in the last few days.
The drive brought the party to over 77,000 members, making it the second-largest in Israel after Likud, which has about 99,000.
All the new members will be able to vote in the January 14 primary, which has over 50 candidates, including 14 women.
Bennett called the 20,000 new members “the greatest declaration of trust a party could get.
“We’ll continue serving the people and working for the people in the next Knesset,” he vowed.