Habayit Hayehudi rejects holding Anglo slot

Party turns down proposal conditionally reserving fifth slot on the its next Knesset list for an immigrant.

Orlev 311 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Orlev 311
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Habayit Hayehudi took two steps on Sunday and Monday that could discourage immigrants from English-speaking countries from participating in its November primary. Its election committee ruled out reserving a slot for an immigrant and the committee’s chairman said ballots would only be available in Hebrew.
The election committee turned down a proposal, submitted by MK Zevulun Orlev, that would have conditionally reserved the fifth slot on the Knesset candidates list.
There are currently no immigrants from Russian-speaking countries running for seats on the Habayit Hayehudi list. But American natives Ari Abramowitz and Jeremy Gimpel are running, as is Yehuda David, who moved to Israel from France.
“There is a limit to how many reserved slots you can have,” said the head of the election committee, Rabbi Daniel Tropper. “In addition to slots reserved for a woman and a young candidate, Sephardim also wanted a reserved slot. In a primary, we cannot take away people’s right to choose.”
Orlev called the committee’s decision “unfortunate and mistaken,” but said he would accept it and that he hoped an immigrant would rank high on the party’s list without a reserved slot.
Asked whether ballots in the primary would be available in multiple languages, Tropper said having ballots in languages other than Hebrew could make it hard for the party’s computer system to scan and count votes.
“If we know that there is a substantial non-Hebrew speaking voting population out there we might have to consider it, but I personally think immigrants have the rudimentary knowledge needed to vote,” Tropper said.
Gimpel said he would meet with election committee officials this week in an effort to persuade them to make ballots available in multiple languages.
“We want Habayit Hayehudi to open its arms to the English-speaking community,” he said.
“Being as inclusive as possible will help the party get more votes in the general election, so it’s in Habayit Hayehudi’s interests to facilitate immigrants’ participation.”
In a step that could help enable immigrants to join the party, Tropper said the party could accept membership forms submitted in English.
When immigrants complained to Abramowitz and Gimpel that they could not understand Hebrew membership forms, they created English forms themselves but had members sign Hebrew forms as well just in case.
The election committee decided to change course and allow members to vote for five candidates in the November 13 Knesset primary after it had earlier decided on three. Members can give four points to their top choice, two to their second-favorite candidate and one each to their third through fifth.
The committee also decided to retroactively approve some 1,500 membership forms submitted by telemarketers employed by party leadership candidate Naftali Bennett that had been challenged. Those members will be sent emails asking if they approved the party’s bylaws. According to the committee’s decision, such members will only be disqualified if they answer negatively.
They will be counted if they do not respond.
“In this day and age this is a legitimate way to join a party,” Tropper said.