World Bnei Akiva head 'forced' to resign after joining right-wing party

The Religious Zionist Party announced a late addition into Tal as the No. 12 reserved for the chairman of the party Bezalel Smotrich.

 CELEBRATORY ‘SHABBAT IRGUN’ for the religious Zionist youth movement of Bnei Akiva in Hashmonaim in 2014.  (photo credit: FLICKR.COM)
CELEBRATORY ‘SHABBAT IRGUN’ for the religious Zionist youth movement of Bnei Akiva in Hashmonaim in 2014.
(photo credit: FLICKR.COM)

The World Bnei Akiva Movement said on Thursday that its current director-general, Ohad Tal, has been “forced” to end his position after being nominated as a member of the Religious Zionist Party in the upcoming elections.

On Wednesday, the right-wing party announced the late addition of Tal as the No. 12 slot reserved for the choice of the party chairman Bezalel Smotrich.

“Following the decision of Ohad Tal to run in the upcoming elections for a seat in the Knesset, he will be forced to end his position with the movement,” an official said in a harsh statement of World Bnei Akiva. “World Bnei Akiva, the largest Zionist youth movement in the world, is a non-political movement that operates in hundreds of branches around the world, strengthening Jewish identity, connection to the State of Israel and encouraging aliyah,” the statement read.

Bnei Akiva disassociates from Religious Zionist Party

“The movement emphasizes that it is not affiliated with any political party and that Ohad’s choice is personal and not related to the movement,” the statement said.

Sources in the movement have told The Jerusalem Post that they are “very worried” by the fact that Tal will be joining a party that one of its leaders is the extreme right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir.

 Itamar Ben-Gvir. (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90) Itamar Ben-Gvir. (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

In addition, in February, Smotrich visited the UK, during which he met with Bnei Akiva shlichim (emissaries). The British branch of Bnei Akiva said later that day that “the meeting had gone ahead without its knowledge and the emissaries had attended in an individual capacity,” according to The Jewish Chronicle. “It reaffirmed its commitment to encouraging ‘inclusion and acceptance of all and rejecting all forms of racism, homophobia and hate,’’ according to Bnei Akiva UK.

Heads of Bnei Akiva around the world are worried that the announcement of the election of Tal to the party while wearing a movement shirt may suggest that Bnei Akiva supports the move, which, according to many sources, it doesn’t.

Ohad Tal and Bnei Akiva

Tal was elected director-general of Bnei Akiva about a year ago after a long search committee selected different candidates. He has made many changes in the movement, according to employees and many of them involved a change in personnel.

“There are many empty positions to fill in the movement,” one of these employees said in confidence.

According to World Bnei Akiva’s website, Tal is a resident of Efrat, married to Tamar, and a father of four sons. He began his career in training and management of educational projects at the Western Wall Heritage Foundation and was the director of the project to save the remains of the Temple Mount on behalf of the ‘Elad’ organization.

Tal and his family also served as Shlichim in the Netherlands on behalf of World Bnei Akiva and the Jewish Agency. He served as the vice-president of the Mizrachi World Movement and has led groundbreaking moves to renew the movement and rebuild it all over the world.

“World Bnei Akiva and its various programs continue in full force and will immediately begin the process of electing a new secretary general,” the press release stated and concluded that “we wish Ohad much success in his new direction of serving the public.”