Israeli journalist, activist Arnon Segal to run in Religious Zionist primaries

Arnon Segal, the brother of Israeli journalist Amit Segal, is a journalist and Temple Mount activist.

 Israeli journalist and Religious Zionist primaries candidate Arnon Segal (photo credit: Yosi Aloni)
Israeli journalist and Religious Zionist primaries candidate Arnon Segal
(photo credit: Yosi Aloni)

Arnon Segal, an Israeli journalist and Temple Mount activist, announced on Saturday night that he will be running for a spot on the Religious Zionist Party list for the 25th Knesset. The primary elections are set to take place next week. 

Sources in the party have estimated that, in light of a possible merger with Otzma Yehudit head Itamar Ben Gvir, the first five slots are the only realistic shot Segal could take. 

Who is Arnon Segal?

Segal, the brother of Israeli journalist Amit Segal, is a journalist who has written for the Makor Rishon newspaper and the "Olam Katan" Shabbat pamphlet. He also serves as an activist advocating for Jewish religious freedom on the Temple Mount.

 Head of the Religious Zionist Party MK Bezalel Smotrich  gives a press statement at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on May 26, 2021.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Head of the Religious Zionist Party MK Bezalel Smotrich gives a press statement at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on May 26, 2021. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Why now? 

In his announcement, which is published on social media, he listed a number of issues that he felt had not properly been brought to the political table that he thought needed to be there. 

The Temple Mount

"Everything starts from the bayit (home,)" he wrote. The word carries a double meaning, as bayit refers to home but is also part of the Hebrew name for the Temple Mount: Har Habayit. 

Segal has had a weekly column in Makor Rishon for years covering news of the Temple Mount. 

"Years of coverage of the Temple Mount and countless warnings of its neglect have brought me to the conclusion that the time has come to completely flip this reality," he wrote.

"For too many years, we have abandoned our greatest dreams and allowed others to dictate the limits of what is possible. We have a big dream, the dream of Jewish generations, and the time has come to actualize it: Recognize the Temple Mount as a Jewish holy site and allow freedom of worship in it." 

Segal used the Temple Mount as a segue to the other issues he wants to address, emphasizing that it is the bedrock of all the following ideas. 

Gush Katif 

"After 17 years of dragging along, it is time to begin to plan a return to Gush Katif," he wrote. "Yes, to physically return and rebuild it."

Gush Katif was a bloc of 17 Israeli settlements in the southern part of the Gaza Strip enclave that started in 1968 after Israel captured the territory in the 1967 Six Day War. 

In August 2005, the area's 8,600 Jews were removed in the Israeli government's unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip as well as from a number of settlements in the northern West Bank, including Homesh

"It is obvious and clear to anyone that, one day, our only option will be to unilaterally defeat Hamas. We will then be faced with the decision of what to do with all this territory that we abandoned in 2005." 

Minimizing the right of return

"The time has come to do away with the 'grandchild' clause in the Law of Return to ensure that only strictly-halachic Jews are able to make aliyah. The law was originally passed in 1950 and underwent a number of additions in 1970. 

One of them was clause 4a, which grants aliyah rights to a partner, child and grandchild of a Jew, regardless of whether that first-degree reference person is alive and if they themselves made aliyah or not. 

It became extremely relevant in the 90s with the massive wave of aliyah from the former USSR, with claims made that the new immigrants were not proper halakhic Jews themselves but were able to immigrate to Israel because of the clause. 

All suggested amendments to the law were denied. 

Other ideas proposed by Segal include: Evicting illegal residents, removing judges from the Judges Selection Committee, eliminating the ability of the High Court to undo laws and breaking up the position of attorney-general.

Segal additionally called for the Chief Rabbinate to stop being the "religious police" of the state and return to being a spiritual guide and authority on Jewish law (halacha). He also called for the number of members of the Chief Rabbinate Council to increase to 71 and for the members to be elected by anyone who commits to follow their rulings.

Amit Segal wished Arnon luck in a tweet on Saturday night and announced that he would no longer be covering the Religious Zionist party's primaries as it would pose a conflict of interest.