(photo credit: ULPANEI REHOVOT)
An Israeli political party will for the first time automatically allocate a portion of its membership fees for events in English, at the request of the new member, officials announced on Sunday.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett initiated the membership drive that will begin July 15, as Bayit Yehudi shifts from having a one-time fee every time they have a membership drive to an annual membership fee, like there is in Likud and Labor.
Those who join the party will be given reference codes of a dozen different forums in the party. Besides the party’s “Anglo Forum,” new members can earmark their fees to forums for youth, women, Druse, secular members, and party branches.
“I hope people will put in the Anglo Forum reference code so we can have vibrant Anglo activities down the road,” said Anglo Forum director Jeremy Saltan, who heads the Bayit Yehudi branch in Mevaseret Zion.
English membership forums will be available in print and eventually online. It was unclear whether a party has ever had official membership forms in English.
“This drive will help us become Israel’s next ruling party,” said Bayit Yehudi director-general Nir Orbach.
“This is the time to go to a new level, because our values must lead the State of Israel after the next election. Those who agree with our values need to come forward, join us, and be a part of our revolution.”
But Bennett’s opponents in Bayit Yehudi said they did not like his decision to effectively cancel the memberships of some 77,000 current members if they do not pay a new fee by the end of the year. One MK claimed that the faction was not informed of the decision before it was announced, but other party officials said Bennett and Orbach had informed the MKs.
“The significance of this step is that all the hard work by the party’s MKs to register as many people as possible last time will be lost due to one decision by Bennett,” an opponent of the party chairman said. “It does not make sense to erase an entire membership drive or to hold a drive when many members are angry about the way the party has been run. There could end up being a lot fewer members after the drive.”