There are about 12 or so parties that are polled as earning enough votes in Tuesday's election to enter the Knesset, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud and Benny Gantz's Blue and White being the front runners.But a total of 39 parties are running in the race for the 21st Knesset election, most of which will not cross the 3.25% threshold.
So why do they run if there is little chance of success? It's an excellent way to promote a cause and election laws give air time for commercials.There is also the chance that the little guys will get a chance as was the case of the Gil Pensioners party in the 2006 election which surprised the nation by gaining an unprecedented 7 seats after having never been in the Knesset.
The following is a brief list of some of the more unique examples of who the Israeli electorate can choose from on April 9.
1. Na Nach
Established in 2013, the Na Nach party is comprised of followers of the late Rabbi Yisroel Dov Ber Odesser, a charismatic Israeli hassidic leader who passed away in 1994. Rabbi Odesser dedicated his life to publishing, translating and distributing the works of the 19th century hassidic Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.But today, the Na Nach adherents are mostly visible due to their loud music and ecstatic dancing often from colorfully decorated vans as they distribute pamphlets and stickers.The party also listed terrorism as a chief concern on their platform. Candidate Sharon Knafo is a survivor of a 2001 terrorist attack on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem.
2. Betah — Bitahon Hevrati
Viral video star Semion Grafman is heading Betah - Bitahon Hevrati, Hebrew for "social security" which hopes to raising the standard of living. The Ukrainian-born Grafman is a frequent guest on Channel 13 and his humorous videos are a hit on social media. In a February interview with the The Jerusalem Post, Grafman cheerfully noted that the letter code for his party's voting ticket spell out a dirty word in English.
3. The Pirate Party
Founded in 2012, its leaders dress in pirate costumes as part of their campaign. They call for "a democratic, open, accessible, transparent and progressive spirit to ensure the individual's natural rights." Pirate parties have run in various elections around the world on a platform of reforming copyright and patent law.This election, Dan Biron, owner of Birman's Bar in downtown Jerusalem, is running. A fixture in Jerusalem, Biron ran for mayor in 2008 and worked for decades in broadcasting.The group's full name as listed through the Central Election Committee is "The Pirates, headed by Internet Ballots for Diarrhea"
4. The Union of Bnei HaBrit, chaired by Sea Captain Bashara Shlayan Founded in 2013, Bnei HaBrit is led by a Christian Arab Israeli from of Nazareth.In a 2013 interview with JTA, he stated: "if you were in America, wouldn’t you be an American? At least in Israel, those who stayed here have been given the right to be a citizen and to integrate."
5. Kol Yisrael Achim - Peula LeYisraelA joint list of two parties, the first is translated as "All Israel are Brothers" and advocates for Jewish-Ethiopians. It is led by former Member of Knesset Alali Adamso, an Ethiopian-born veteran of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. Prof. Michael Corinaldi, author of Jewish Identity: The Case of Ethiopian Jewry is on the number two slot on the list.The second party, Peula LeYisrael, advocates for reparations for Jewish refugees from Arab lands who fled to Israel in the early days of Israel's independence.
BONUS: Oren Hazan - TzometAlthough the top five list features those not currently in Israel's parliament, no list of colorful politicians would be complete without our bonus candidate.The outspoken and controversial Hazan has been an MK with Likud for the past four years until he broke off in February following a poor showing in the primaries. He now heads his own party called Tzomet.
The Knesset Ethics Committee penalized Hazan on multiple occasions following complaints by fellow lawmakers about his uninhibited comments deemed inappropriate for the plenum. A day before the elections, he took to Facebook Live as he marched through the narrow alleys of Jerusalem's Old City with an Israeli flag to shake hands and greet potential voters. Hazan's march also crossed the paths of Arab residents of the Muslim quarter of the Old City who engaged him in a verbal shouting match, as police quickly intervened.A king of selfies, Hazan gained notoriety for squeezing through journalists and security to snap a photo with US President Donald Trump during his visit to Israel in 2017. Hazan's Jerusalem march resulted in fans rushing to take their own selfies with the brash young politician, who will probably not make the Knesset according to polls.