New immigrants pose upon arrival 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy of Nefesh B'Nefesh)
Even the most insightful pundits are having trouble making sense of the meteoric
rise of the Bayit Yehudi in what is widely considered the most interesting
election season in a generation. While many propose rather complex socioeconomic
factors behind this phenomenon, in my opinion this is simply an issue of being
in the right place at the right time.
During the primaries, as I traveled
throughout the country engaging primarily English-speaking voters, a certain
theme began to emerge which I believe sheds light on why the Bayit Yehudi is
exciting and mobilizing, not only the Anglos in Israel, but the nation as a
A brief interaction I overheard at a campaign event in Netanya
between one of our volunteers and an oleh from the UK sums it all up. As the
oleh was walking into the event, the well-meaning volunteer was handing out
flyers and saying “Vote Bayit Yehudi – they will be your Anglo representation in
The oleh seemed taken aback, even offended, and responded
“I do not vote based on who will serve my interests. I cast my vote for who I
believe will best serve the interests of the State of Israel. There is no ‘Anglo
vote.’” After the primaries, we were approached by Naftali Bennet who asked us
to run the “Anglo Campaign” for the Bayit Yehudi. Being the son of two
idealistic US olim, Naftali seemed to immediately understand what many others
struggle to wrap their minds around: Anglos are not sectoral.
to Meretz, Anglos vote for who they believe will best further the interests of
the Jewish people, both in Israel and around the world. If Anglos were a
sectoral people, they would not have left the individual comforts and luxuries
of the Diaspora to be part of the Jewish State – to take their place on the
center stage of our nation’s destiny.
Anglos are not united by
entitlements or interests, rather by mission and values. An Anglo campaign, we
explained, will focus primarily on the values that unite us and the ideals that
brought us here.
Naftali agreed fully and so the campaign
AT ONE of our first events on the campaign trail up in Ma’alot, we
shared our vision of a values-based Zionist party becoming consensus, positioned
among the largest and most influential parties in the country.
jaded cynicism resulting from decades of disappointing attempts at bringing
about a movement of this nature, an American woman who made aliyah upon the
completion of high school nearly 40 years ago told us that while she applauded
our youthful idealism, she would not sign up for the party as she has “seen this
a hundred times and it never amounted to anything.
Why would this be any
different?” she asked.
“That was then and this is now,” I answered. “Now
is the time!” The departure from sectoral interests and individualism in favor
of values and national consciousness is not solely an Anglo
Polls show that if only those under the age of 45 would be
able to vote, The Bayit Yehudi would be the largest party in the country and
Naftali Bennett would be prime minister.
I believe that this unparalleled
explosion of support by the youth of this country is an expression of a much
deeper transformation. It expresses a move away from small minded “old school
politics” and the self-imposed labels, boxes and borders that divide
After 64 years, we are beginning to see Israel not as a country of
refugees seeking to further our own sectoral interests but as a nation that has
returned to our land with a common mission and shared destiny.
soul of the nation of Israel is waking up and seeking expression. We desire
unity, not despite our differences, but because of them. It does not matter
whether we go to synagogue on Shabbat or throw a frizbee on the beach – whether
we wait between meat and milk or mix them together.
A strong Jewish
identity transcends these differences and the pride of being a Jew is not
dependent upon them.
What matters is we are all a family and Israel is
our home – our enemies understand that, the time has come for us to understand
it as well.
“The hearts of the fathers will be turned to their children,”
the prophet says. While this revolution, like most, is beginning with the youth,
it is not ending there.
The day after that event in Ma’alot, I received a
call from the jaded olah who adamantly refused to join the party. “After the
event last night I went home and spoke to my son,” she said. “He convinced me
that we can’t stop trying – that this time would be different. Sign me
Jeremy Gimpel is the co-Founder of The Land of Israel.com a
Pro-Israel media and activist organization and is #14 on the Bayit Yehudi list