NU-NRP tries to rally last-minute voters around orange flag

David Danzer can't forgive party for staying in gov't during disengagement vote.

The National Union-National Religious Party did not secure the vote of right-winger David Danzer despite the settlers' orange flag it waved during the campaign and its strong statements in defense of territorial integrity. When push came to shove, Danzer said he simply could not forgive the National Religious Party for failing to walk out of the government following the first cabinet vote on disengagement. "They had their chance and they didn't step up to the plate," said Danzer, a first time voter who immigrated from New York in 2003. Nor was he swayed by the NRP's decision in February to join forces in the next Knesset with the National Union. While he conceded that it was true that the National Union had allowed itself to be fired over disengagement, the party's choice to align itself with the NRP was enough to push Danzer in a more radical direction. Danzer said that his party of choice is Baruch Marzel's Jewish National Front Party, even though polls predict it is unlikely to make it into the Knesset. Fearing the NU-NRP could lose one mandate to Marzel, its leader Benny Elon has urged right-wing supporters not to cast their vote for Marzel, claiming they ran the risk of wasting their vote. But Danzer said he wasn't swayed by that argument. "I'm voting my conscience," he said. In the first post-disengagement election, Elon had hoped that his party would win as many as 15 to 20 mandates as a show of support for Judea and Samaria, particularly given that the National Union and the NRP had united. He told The Jerusalem Post he would consider 10 mandates a failure. Polls have shown the party at anywhere from 8 to 12 mandates. The union solved a conundrum for those in the NRP who were angered by the party's more moderate course in the last government. Hagai Lober of Beit El said he was relieved by the union, but that either way he would have chosen the National Union instead of the NRP, which he supported last time. "It's the only right-wing party that exists," he said. He didn't consider Marzel's party because he didn't believe it would be large enough to make a difference. "He [Marzel] doesn't have the experience to be a leader," he said. But for the more moderate voter like Shuli Mishkin of Alon Shvut, the union of the two parties made her pause. Without the National Union, the NRP would have been her national choice. The union of the two made the decision of whom to vote for very difficult for Mishkin, a mother of four who immigrated from Brooklyn 12 years ago. She said she was looking for a party that represented religious interests and a broad range of social issues and did not just focus on an anti-disengagement platform, even though as someone who lived over the pre-1967 border she noted that it would be nice to keep her home.. Still, had Sharon not fallen ill, she would have considered voting for him as she did in the last election. "I had the feeling that he had the best interests of the Jewish people in mind," Mishkin said. In the end, she said, with less than 24-hours to go, she reluctantly settled on the NU-NRP. "All the other [parties] just seemed too awful," she said. The police violence during the demolition of nine homes in Amona in January made her remove Kadima from her list of options. "They just seemed to be too far left for me," she said. "I'm not crazy about the NU-NRP, but it seems to be the lesser of two evils," she said. NU-NRP MK Nissan Slomiansky said that in spite of low poll predictions, he was hopeful that the party's face-to-face campaign would still turn the tide in the party's favor and give it a showing of 14 mandates. NU-NRP MK Arye Eldad said that the polls were not stable. Still, he said, he was discouraged by predictions of a low voter turnout. Eldad said all the parties failed in their primary objective of gaining the attention of the Israeli public, which appeared to be under a "general anesthesia" when it came to deciding the country's fate.