Likud or Jewish home?
One of the hottest topics currently being discussed in the broadly defined national camp is whether to vote for a seemingly more right-wing Likud or for a revitalized Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) in the upcoming elections.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett Photo: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post
One of the hottest topics currently being discussed in the broadly defined
national camp is whether to vote for a seemingly more right-wing Likud or for a
revitalized Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) in the upcoming elections.
quality candidates such as Yariv Levin, Tzipi Hotovely and Moshe Feiglin in the
Likud versus Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and Uri Ariel in Bayit Yehudi, not
surprisingly many people are having a difficult time deciding who to cast their
vote for on January 22.
For me, however, the choice is rather simple, and
the title of The Who’s classic rock and roll hit “We Won’t Get Fooled Again”
says it all.
In other words, although the candidates with a more
nationalistic orientation certainly fared well in the recent Likud primaries,
and Moshe Feiglin instead of Dan Meridor will undoubtedly strengthen the
ideological backbone of the party, for the most part it’s basically the same
people who were elected in 2009 and who were subsequently unable despite their
good intentions to prevent the building freeze, the Bar-Ilan speech and the
evictions from both the Ulpana neighborhood and Migron.
failed to prevent the prime minister from caving in to pressure from both the
media and the attorney general on several key bills designed to curtail the
ever-expanding power of the courts, and were likewise unsuccessful in their
attempts to have the prime minister adopt the findings of the Levy
This being the case, why should we expect anything different this
time around? After all, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is still the head of
the Likud and as the past four years have taught us, he is the one who
ultimately makes the decisions.
Moreover, although most agree that the
Likud merger with Yisrael Beytenu was simply a way for Netanyahu to all but
guarantee a victory in the upcoming elections, it’s quite possible the prime
minister had another reason for joining forces with Yisrael Beytenu leader
Avigdor Liberman. Assuming that, politically speaking, Netanyahu remains
Netanyahu, the merger with Yisrael Beytenu will easily allow Netanyahu to
continue with his policy of neutralizing what he considers to be the more
right-wing elements of his own party.
For in the event that the prime
minister is unable to enforce party discipline on a key ideological issue, a
scenario which in the Likud is almost certain to happen, his partnership with
Liberman means that he will now have at his disposal a party based upon
near-total obedience to the demands of its chairman.
Thus, even if
several members of his own party are opposed to his stance on a certain issue or
on a specific vote, all Netanyahu needs to do is to close ranks with Liberman to
circumvent the will of his own party.
Equally important, on the key issue
of Palestinian calls for statehood west of the Jordan River, the realization of
which many consider would pose a threat to the continued existence of the Jewish
state, Liberman, like Netanyahu, publicly supports a version of the two-state
CONSIDERING ALL of the above, it’s difficult to take seriously
the recent declarations about building in E1, or the ads being placed in
right-leaning newspapers with pictures of Netanyahu, Feiglin and Hotovely
ironically appearing on the same page.
After all, the real test is not a
month or two before elections, but a month or two after elections. Moreover, the
fact that Netanyahu supposedly doesn’t want the Bayit Yehudi in any future
coalition only strengthens the idea that the prime minister, despite his newly
discovered right-wing stance, really doesn’t intend on veering to the Right
after the elections.
For all of these reasons, the choice for Bayit
Yehudi should be obvious. For not only do the respective leaders of the two
merged parties (Bayit Yehudi-National Union), Naftali Bennett and Uri Ariel,
oppose the suicidal two-state solution, from the outset they have projected a
clear pro- Israel line that resonates with more and more Israeli voters from all
walks of life.
Moreover, the genuinely positive atmosphere being created
by diverse candidates relinquishing their egos in order to harmoniously work
together for a larger cause has left many in Israel with the feeling that
finally something positive is happening in the ugly world of Israeli
In addition, the greater the party’s success in the January
elections the more difficult it will be for Netanyahu to keep them out of any
future coalition. Needless to say, Bayit Yehudi’s presence in the next coalition
would make it more difficult for the prime minister to continue with his habit
of ignoring the more right-wing members of his own party.
endorsement of Bayit Yehudi, however, and in fact the future growth of the
party, is contingent upon the party finally parting ways with its “sector
Although people like Naftali Bennett, Ayelet
Shaked and many others appear to understand this point, there are still some
voices in the larger Bayit Yehudi world that are stuck in the sector
Such people fail to understand that although the party
sprouted from the beautiful ideals and morality of the religious-Zionist world,
and though it still carries these assets with it, it is no longer a narrow
“religious Zionist party” which is meant to cater to the needs of one specific
sector, but rather has evolved into a broader party which is meant to embrace
and eventually provide leadership for all of the Jewish people. If Bennett and
others around him can succeed in conveying this message both internally to the
party and externally to the voters, then the sky is the limit.
ultimate goal, however, in spite of everything written above, is that eventually
all the good, quality MKs will sit together in one party.
For that to
happen, Bayit Yehudi needs to blossom into a party of at least 15-20 seats while
concomitantly the Likud needs to continue to strengthen itself
If both of these things happen then it’s realistic that
within five to 10 years a true nationalist leader will be elected as the head of
When that happens, the two parallel parties will truly be
superfluous, a precondition which will allow them to merge into one in order to
finally have a powerful leadership party based upon the requisite ideals and
vision to lead the nation.
Moreover, it’s irrelevant whether this merged
party will be called Likud, Bayit Yehudi or some other name, since the party is
merely the vessel to provide the leadership.
God willing, that day is
Yoel Meltzer is a freelance writer living in