Rally in solidarity with southern Israeli citizens at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square. .
(photo credit: Lahav Harkov)
Right-wing party leaders were invited to speak at a major rally planned for Sunday in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, but Bayit Yehudi is considering skipping the event.
Titled “United for the Land of Israel,” the rally is being organized by Nachala, an organization run by former Kedumim mayor Daniella Weiss that focuses on building outposts, and the United Headquarters for the Land of Israel, in response to Saturday night’s left-wing demonstration, which they said called for “replac[ing] the government and establish[ing] an Arab state in the heart of the Land of Israel.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett, Yahad leader Eli Yishai, Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) and senior members of their parties have been invited to attend, Weiss said, adding that Netanyahu’s and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s security staffs already have discussed arrangements with her.
Sources in Netanyahu’s office say they are examining the possibility of his attending and giving a speech, while Bennett’s spokesman said he has not yet decided. Yishai plans to be there, she said.
Transportation Minister Israel Katz (Likud) called on the masses to attend the demonstration and say “yes to a strong, safe Israel.”
“We are members of the nationalist camp, proud Jews, religious and secular Jews from different origins who respect tradition and the symbols of Judaism,” Katz said. “We say no to a left-wing government and unite for the Land of Israel.”
However, Bayit Yehudi lawmakers continued to debate whether to take part, finding many disadvantages to doing so at a Sunday night meeting, according to a report by Army Radio’s Ido Benbaji, including that Weiss does not have the resources to plan an event bigger than the left-wing rally Saturday night, which had an estimated 30,000 attendees.
If the Right cannot bring a larger crowd than the Left, the demonstration should be canceled, MK Orit Struck said.
Bennett interjected, however, that it doesn’t matter how many people attend a right-wing rally, the press will say there were fewer people than were there.
Someone else at the meeting, meanwhile, expressed concern that a general right-wing rally will contribute to the idea of “it’s us or them” – Netanyahu versus Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog – and will help the Likud while hurting Bayit Yehudi.
Shimon Riklin, a television commentator who is on the party’s PR team, meanwhile, recounted controversial comments against religious and Sephardi people by artist Yair Garbuz Saturday night and warned that “someone could say something stupid on the stage and ruin everything.”
Weiss said she understands the concerns but is not considering canceling the event.
“Everyone is concerned that the other will take votes away from him, but I say the Land of Israel is above everything and we will boost the whole Right and bring it seats, credit and a chance to win,” she said.
As for doubts about the turnout, Weiss said “many hundreds” of buses have been ordered to bring in people.
“I was very calm after I saw the left-wing rally,” she said. “They didn’t have such a huge number of people and it was like a ghost town.”
The planned event was postponed from Saturday night to Sunday out of concern that Shabbat-observant participants from the periphery would not be able to make it to Tel Aviv in time, as well as to maximize media exposure since a Saturday-night rally would be more likely to begin long after the 8 p.m. news.
People across the country, from Safed to Sderot, have decided to come to the rally because of the change, Weiss noted.
Meanwhile, Weiss mocked former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who cried during his speech on Saturday, saying he was worried about the country.
“He was crying over the country? Is that why we established the state, to whine? We have such a great country and they just whine like cats.”