The battle for the women’s spot on the Habayit Hayehudi list is heating up, with
national-religious women’s organization Emunah working on a behind-the-scenes
campaign to take down candidate Ayelet Shaked, who is not
According to a senior party source, Emunah chairwoman Leora
Minka is trying to convince one of the other two females running – former MK
Gila Finkelstein and Shuli Mualem – to leave the race.
Minka’s goal, the
source said, is for there to be one strong, religious woman who can face Shaked,
who has a high profile because of the controversy over her secularism and the
campaigns she led in recent years as the co-founder of the popular My Israel
Meanwhile, Shaked’s camp challenged Minka’s criticism of
the candidate on religious grounds, pointing out that Shaked has the support of
several influential national-religious rabbis.
“She is a very talented
woman that proved herself in leadership positions. Beyond that, she has good
qualities and is idealistic,” Beit El Chief Rabbi Shlomo Aviner wrote about
Shaked. “As for a female MK or a secular MK – there have been such things in the
We should not focus on what separates the nation, but what we have
in common, which is much greater.”
Former IDF chief rabbi Avihai Rontzki,
who, like Shaked, is running with Habayit Hayehudi leadership candidate Naftali
Bennett, took credit for convincing her to join the primary. He explained that
she identifies with the party’s values, and can be instrumental in spreading
them outside of the national-religious sector.
Though Minka did not
confirm that she is working to convince female candidates to leave the Habayit
Hayehudi race, she openly came out against Shaked running for the fourth spot on
the party’s list on Friday.“That spot is saved for a national-religious woman.
We need someone who can represent their interests,” the Emunah chairwoman said.
“For there to be a woman who is not religious [in that spot] seems ridiculous
Minka added that she has nothing personal against Shaked,
having never met her, and said the candidate could be a good fit for the fifth
spot, which is for someone under 40.
However, according to Minka, as a
secular person, Shaked cannot understand religious women’s issues such as
national service and representation in religious courts.
neither Finkelstein nor Mualem were willing to back down this
Mualem, deputy chairwoman of the IDF Widows and Orphans
Organization, said she appreciates the support of Emunah, but that she is not
running against Shaked – rather for a place on the list.
said that the issue of Shaked’s candidacy is one of Habayit Hayehudi’s
“Are we Likud number two, or are we a national-religious party?
This is a question of the party’s meaning, its views and who can best represent
its members, especially the women,” Mualem said, adding that she can represent
Habayit Hayehudi voters in issues such as teaching religious values in schools
and women’s status in rabbinical courts.
Finkelstein, an English teacher
and former principal of the Tzeitlin religious high school in Tel Aviv who was a
member of the 16th Knesset, would not refer specifically to the other women in
Instead, she highlighted her three-and-a-half years of
experience in the Knesset, including legislation to help special-needs students
The former MK said only that “we are in the middle of a new
process, on the eve of a primary that does not require a period of membership in
“In light of my experience, I believe in my power to get the
public’s support,” Finkelstein added.