Habayit Hayehudi ends membership drive with 40,000

All three candidates for the party leadership claim their pieces of the membership pie.

September 11, 2012 02:24
2 minute read.
Hershkowitz and Bennet at Habayit Hayehudi debate

Habayit Hayehudi English debate 370. (photo credit: Yehoshua Sigala)


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Habayit Hayehudi completed its membership drive at midnight between Sunday and Monday with about 40,000 people joining the religious- Zionist party.

When the drive ended, all three candidates for the party leadership claimed their pieces of the membership pie. When added up, the 30,000 claimed by MK Zevulun Orlev, 26,000 by Naftali Bennett and 15,000 by Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz totals 71,000 members.

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Candidates running for Knesset with the party also say they have signed up thousands of members not included in the 71,000 claimed by the leadership candidates. Former MK Nissan Slomiansky claimed close to 10,000 and American-born candidates Jeremy Gimpel and Ari Abramowitz about 3,000.

The party will now work on publishing its membership list by September 20. After that, it will be clear which candidates were telling the truth.

“The drive has been proven a big success,” said the party’s election committee chairman, Rabbi Daniel Tropper. “It shows there has been a great awakening in religious Zionism.”

Tropper confirmed that more than 21,000 people joined online, by far the most who ever joined a party via the Internet during a primary. Bennett claimed to have personally signed up 21,226 people via his website.

“We’ve already made history,” said Tropper.

Now that the drive is done, the candidates can rest a bit before getting ready for the November 6 leadership race and the November 13 contest for the party’s Knesset list.

Gimpel and Abramowitz, whose 3,000 members could potentially make them kingmakers in the leadership race, said they would consult with Israel’s rabbis, thinkers and opinion-makers before deciding which leadership contender to endorse or whether to remain independent. They said they would not endorse a candidate who is not committed to ensuring that all religious- Zionist parties run together in the next general election.

“The only way to advance religious Zionism is to have one united bloc,” Gimpel said.

“I want to coerce them into signing that they will run together. If I can do that, it’s more important than getting into the Knesset.”

Gimpel said he gave the leadership candidates the benefit of the doubt that they are counting each other’s supporters in their membership totals rather than outright lying. He said that after working hard to sign up as many people as possible, he was glad to finally get some rest.

“I have been living on energy drinks and Snickers bars for the past few weeks,” he said. “I don’t ever remember working this hard.”

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