Ultra-Orthodox UTJ tries to woo secular voters

UTJ to push their social welfare accomplishments to draw traditional but not strictly observant voters.

yeshiva students  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
yeshiva students
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
The ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism Party is initiating an election campaign targeting secular voters, particularly in the country’s periphery where it believes it has the potential for significant electoral success.
UTJ intends to emphasize its legislative achievements in the Knesset where it says it has successfully passed laws which benefit the general public and not just its own haredi political base.
The new campaign will also highlight the prominence of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a prominent figure in the ultra-Orthodox, Ashkenazi, non-hassidic community.
Kanievsky has a widely held reputation as someone whose blessings are effective, and he receives many members of the public who come to him seeking such blessings.
This reputation has also reached Israelis who are not strictly observant of Jewish law but are religiously traditional, and UTJ is hoping to tap into this attraction to boost its electorate.
Legislation which UTJ’s MKs have initiated, advanced and passed in the last Knesset benefiting the general population includes a law requiring substantial payments from insurance companies who refuse to pay out on a policy without cause, and a law allowing the parents of children requiring kidney dialysis to use sick days.
Other laws supported by UTJ MKs include legislation encouraging the collection of unwanted food, and bills to stop spam mail and nuisance calls from companies seeking to attract former customers, among others.
The MKs also have several other laws in the pipeline for the coming Knesset, including a law which would allow people to use sick days for fertility treatment.
The party has already begun putting up posters touting Kanievsky’s support of UTJ, while party MK Uri Maklev recorded a radio broadcast targeting potential religiously traditional voters which will be released later this week, encouraging “secular people to consider the range of issues on which UTJ has legislated, including social-welfare laws, for the general public and not just for the ultra-Orthodox community,” said Maklev.
“In the coming Knesset, the party that will continue to look out for economic and consumer issues will be United Torah Judaism, which comes... as the record-holder for [passing] legislation and for Knesset attendance,” he added.