Millionaire Bennett donates NIS 160,000 to himself

Habayit Hayehudi candidates clash in English debate.

July 6, 2012 04:46
2 minute read.
Hershkowitz and Bennet at Habayit Hayehudi debate

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


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Former Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria director-general Naftali Bennett donated NIS 160,000 to his campaign for the leadership of Habayit Hayehudi, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira’s website reported Thursday.

Bennett, who sold his hi-tech security startup Cyota for $145 million in 2005, also received a NIS 10,000 donation from his parents, who made aliya from San Francisco before he was born. The NIS 170,000 Bennett has raised tops the NIS 142,700 incumbent party chairman Daniel Herschkowitz raised from 25 donors and the NIS 94,599 MK Zevulun Orlev raised from 14.

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Candidates for party leadership contests are allowed to give large sums to their campaigns.

But if Habayit Hayehudi does not end up being large enough following its current membership drive, Bennett will not be permitted to spend as much as he has already given himself.

Herschkowitz and Bennett faced off in a debate in English Wednesday night that was hosted by American immigrants Jeremy Gimpel and Ari Abramowitz, who are running for Knesset slots on Habayit Hayehudi’s slate.

Orlev pulled out at the last minute from the debate in Jerusalem’s Heichal Shlomo, citing personal reasons.

Bennett at first said he had respect for Herschkowitz and noted that the science and technology minister was the rabbi who officiated at his wedding. But he later attacked him harshly, criticizing him for absenting himself from the vote on last month’s controversial outpost bill and for his performance as party leader in the last general election.

“I don’t have experience in bringing a party of 12 seats down to three,” Bennett chided.

Herschkowitz called upon Bennett to run together with him so he could gain political experience. He bashed Bennett’s plan to annex Area C in Judea and Samaria.

“Once you distinguish between this area and another area, you lose the other area,” Herschkowitz said. “I looked in the Torah. There is no distinction between any two places in the Land of Israel. I say you either annex everything or you just manage the conflict. Everything is ours.”

Both Herschkowitz and Orlev, in a letter they wrote which the event’s hosts read to the crowd, criticized Bennett’s plan to open up the party to leadership to secular people. Herschkowitz said it would make Habayit Hayehudi a second Likud and Orlev said it would change the party’s national-religious character.

“The party’s name means the Jewish home, not the religious home, but the home of all Jews,” Bennett responded. “The biggest mistake we could make is to push people out. We want all of the people of Israel.”

Both debaters attempted to reach out to the hundreds of immigrants from English-speaking countries in the crowd. Herschkowitz said they “deserve the individual representation we provide” and Bennett said their aliya proved they “know how to turn leadership into action.”

Gimpel said he and Abramowitz decided to run for Knesset after he tried to volunteer to help an MK, who never bothered to get back to him for two months. They said that if elected, the first thing they would do would be to propose Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard as their party’s candidate for president in a race that will be held in two years.

“That way, we could tell the Americans they are holding the president of Israel,” Abramowitz said. “They would have to finally let him go.”

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