(photo credit: Courtesy)
Bayit Yehudi leaders Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked announced their first endorsement for their party’s list for the 21st Knesset on Thursday: City of David vice president and Michigan native Doron Spielman.
The party will have a hotly contested primary among its 30,000 members the first week of February. The endorsement of Bennett and Shaked, who wooed Spielman, could go a long way to help him get elected.
“I am thrilled that Doron Spielman joined us in Bayit Yehudi as a full partner,” Shaked said. “Doron’s experience as one of the driving forces behind the City of David, along with his IDF Hasbara background and Anglo roots, is a winning combination that will be an integral part of our strategy in the upcoming elections. I see him as a Knesset member and authentic representative of the Anglo population in Israel whose natural home is the Bayit Yehudi.”
Spielman, 45, is a resident of Ma’aleh Adumim, a father of six and an active reserve major in the IDF Spokesman’s Unit and the US-Israel joint military task force. He made aliyah in 2000 and has been with the City of David since then.
“I am running for Knesset, because after 18 years of turning the City of David from one of the most neglected to one of the most important sites in Israel, from not being in consensus, to being a central part of the Israeli identity, I believe I could help Bayit Yehudi do that in the Knesset,” Spielman said.
Spielman said he wants to take his skills defending Israel as an army spokesman and against UNESCO’s efforts to marginalize Israel at the City of David to the national political level.
He has briefed US Vice President Mike Pence at the White House and US National Security Adviser John Bolton at the City of David about the importance of Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem and believes his background is an advantage.
“Growing up in Michigan and facing enormous antisemitism, I deeply understand the need and desire to play a role in securing the Jewish future and the State of Israel, and the way to do that is in the Knesset, the most influential place in the country,” Spielman said.
He said Bennett and Shaked pushed him to run, because of his past success and because they see him as the key to opening the party to Anglo immigrants, who he believes could bring the party up to two mandates.
“I’m an ideal representative for English speakers, because I’ve been involved in an influential project that has changed the face of Israel,” he said. “That is the mission of Anglos in this country, who come with an enormous amount of passion and skills. The key is to harness this for the betterment of Israel.”
Spielman said he believes the key issue for Israelis is education. He said he would advance Bennett’s plan to create a hotline for Anglo families in the Education Ministry to consult and understand their resources in their local communities.
He revealed that Bayit Yehudi intends to request the Aliyah and Absorption portfolio, and shift its emphasis from Russian to English speakers.
“The ministry has been dominated by Russian speakers but now it’s time to deal with issues for Anglos,” he said. “The aliyah opportunities are now from English speaking countries and France.”