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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Functionally speaking, the union of the NRP and NU is a big political success. If the goal of politics is to consolidate as much electoral power as possible that's precisely what the two parties have accomplished.
The NRP and NU will not waste useless time, money and energy fighting for the votes of those who would have voted for one of the parties anyway. Unlike the previous elections, young enthusiastic campaigners from the NU or the NRP won't be tearing down election signs of the other side. Most of the settlements in Judea and Samaria and in the national religious neighborhoods of the nation will be united. And the two parties will save themselves the mudslinging.
True, the union will also repel a certain amount of religious Zionists closer to the center and farther to the right than either the NRP or the NU.
Baruch Marzel estimated Thursday evening that his Jewish National Front would be strengthened by the NRP-NU union.
"A lot of people do not like Orlev and what the NRP did during disengagement," said Marzel.
Yigal Amitai, a spokesman and resident of Yitzhar, said some of his neighbors agreed with Marzel's forecast. But he added that many were pleased with the union and others were so fed up with the state that they would not be voting at all.
On the left, people like Yair Reinman, secretary general of the religious kibbutz movement, who tried to prevent the union, were disappointed.
"The NRP offered a more moderate platform for people who now will probably vote for Kadima," said Reinman.
"The NRP and the NU have a fundamentally different outlook on how to achieve goals dear to religious Zionism. The NRP is more practical while the NU is full of visionaries."
Even those who wholeheartedly supported the union, such as Rabbi Beni Kalmanzon of Yeshivat Otniel, realize the dangers of parochialism and alienating secular or traditional elements of the society that can result.
"If we are not careful we might scare away people who are not so religious but are military activists or not so right-wing but are committed to Judaism."
But perhaps Kalmanzon's insight has the cause and the effect mixed up: It is not the union of the two parties that is causing religious Zionists to lose touch with mainstream Israeli society.
Rather the union is evidence that religious Zionism is out of touch with mainstream society.
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