(photo credit: Courtesy)
Yoav Kisch, 46, a fighter pilot and lieutenant-colonel in reserves and an El Al pilot who flies a Boeing 777, has been in the political game for years.
Kisch’s name first became well-known when he helped found “Camp Sucker,” the protest tent camps set up in 2012 to promote equality in the burden of national service. Within months, he became the reservists’ representative to the Knesset’s Plesner Committee, which was dedicated to passing a haredi conscription bill.
Now in the 19th position on the Likud’s candidates list, which is reserved for a resident of Gush Dan, he is running for the Knesset a second time after getting voted into an unrealistic spot ahead of the last election, and he hopes to continue working in the Camp Sucker spirit.
“I don’t think I’m a sucker. I think it’s a privilege to do reserve duty. The phrase just caught on,” he explained, apologetically, at a café in his Ramat Gan neighborhood on Wednesday. A large banner featuring his face and the Likud logo could be seen hanging from a balcony nearby.
When asked about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s willingness to give up on criminal sanctions for haredim who do not serve in the IDF or national service, Kisch pointed out that they have not been implemented yet, and said he did not think they would be effective, anyway.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, whose party pushed for the criminal sanctions, “pretends he achieved something, but all he did was stick a finger into the eyes of the haredim,” Kisch said. “I’m not anti-[haredi], I’m not working out of spite.
“I understand the prime minister’s constraints. There are prices we have to pay to form a coalition. I wish we could have a government with 61 Likud MKs, so we could be more dominant,” he added.
Kisch pointed to two contradictory aims when dealing with haredi conscription. One, he said, is the ideal of having one law apply to all citizens.
The other is the political need to have haredim in the coalition and to not alienate a large population group.
“Despite all of our goodwill, we will face pressures from the haredim and I don’t know how much progress we can make, but I’m sure we can give more to those who contribute more to the state,” he said, proposing scholarships for combat soldiers and loans for those who served to buy homes.
The Likud candidate plans to focus on social issues in the next Knesset, and hopes to be a member of the Finance and Economics committees, as well as the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
In the summer of 2011, Kisch briefly joined the social protests and met now-Labor MKs Stav Shaffir and Itzik Shmuli who were among its leaders.
“I think their agenda and their call for social justice was right... but I saw clearly that they wanted to attack the Likud, so I didn’t join the leadership,” he explained.
Kisch, who has been a Likudnik his whole life and whose mother was a member of the Likud central committee, said he believes in Likud’s neoliberal policy, which he described as promoting a free market and competition, with government intervention “in places where it’s needed... to fix market failures.
“Despite the worldwide economic crisis in 2008, a Likud government created a stable economy and continued economic growth. We can argue about the budget and where the money should go, but [the Left] forgot that we have a strong, growing economy. If we have left-wing policies, there won’t be a budget to distribute anymore...
We’ll have worse economic problems,” he said.
Still, Kisch admitted that not enough was done to reduce housing prices and called the government of the last two years “paralyzed,” because the Likud did not have enough seats in the coalition.
The only way to lower housing prices in the short term, he suggested, is for the government to lower prices for land and accept that its revenue from land will be lower than it was in the past.