Yisrael Beytenu announces new party list in Jerusalem, January 19, 2015.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Following a dispiriting showing Tuesday night, when exit polls indicated Yisrael Beytenu only garnered five seats in the next Knesset, the party rallied a bit later in the week after final tallies resulted in a sixth seat for veteran Druse MK Hamad Amer.
According to some polls, the party was in jeopardy of not procuring the four seats necessary to reach the minimum electoral threshold.
Amer, 51, who will serve in his third term, was the only Druse MK in the last Knesset. A holder of a fifth-degree black belt in karate and chairman of the Israeli Martial Arts Association, the married father of three began his career as a lawyer.
Since becoming a politician, he has gone on to launch a national Druse youth afterschool program, become deputy speaker of the Knesset and an outspoken champion for the rights and integration of Israel’s 120,000-strong Druse community.
“Hamad is a great example, not just for his community, but for all Israelis, of a person who works for greater contribution and integration for all, especially in the Druse community,” Yisrael Beytenu spokesman Ashley Perry said on Thursday.
“He is one of the hardest- working and most tireless legislators who works toward lessening the gaps between the Jewish majority and the Arabic- speaking minorities,” he said.
Indeed, Amer’s Druse Youth Movement, which helps children develop social values and leadership skills, has gone on to enroll tens of thousands of school-aged children who meet daily with high school-aged counselors and adult supervisors.
Amer said he was inspired to create the program in 2001 as a means of enabling Druse children to connect to their roots, while also preparing them for the IDF and developing a sense of national Israeli pride.
In terms of Yisrael Beytenu’s anemic showing on Tuesday, Perry attributed the poor performance to his party’s uncompromising candor.
“I think our party pays a price for its honest and straighttalking campaigns, especially when some others like to say as little, or be as vague as possible, to ingratiate themselves with as wide an audience as possible,” he said.
Amer will join Avigdor Liberman, Orly Levy-Abecassis, Sofa Landver, Ilan Shohat and Sharon Gal in the next Knesset.