Likud or Jewish home?

One of the hottest topics currently being discussed in the broadly defined national camp is whether to vote for a seemingly more right-wing Likud or for a revitalized Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) in the upcoming elections.

Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
One of the hottest topics currently being discussed in the broadly defined national camp is whether to vote for a seemingly more right-wing Likud or for a revitalized Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) in the upcoming elections.
With quality candidates such as Yariv Levin, Tzipi Hotovely and Moshe Feiglin in the Likud versus Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and Uri Ariel in Bayit Yehudi, not surprisingly many people are having a difficult time deciding who to cast their vote for on January 22.
For me, however, the choice is rather simple, and the title of The Who’s classic rock and roll hit “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” says it all.
In other words, although the candidates with a more nationalistic orientation certainly fared well in the recent Likud primaries, and Moshe Feiglin instead of Dan Meridor will undoubtedly strengthen the ideological backbone of the party, for the most part it’s basically the same people who were elected in 2009 and who were subsequently unable despite their good intentions to prevent the building freeze, the Bar-Ilan speech and the evictions from both the Ulpana neighborhood and Migron.
Similarly, they failed to prevent the prime minister from caving in to pressure from both the media and the attorney general on several key bills designed to curtail the ever-expanding power of the courts, and were likewise unsuccessful in their attempts to have the prime minister adopt the findings of the Levy Report.
This being the case, why should we expect anything different this time around? After all, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is still the head of the Likud and as the past four years have taught us, he is the one who ultimately makes the decisions.
Moreover, although most agree that the Likud merger with Yisrael Beytenu was simply a way for Netanyahu to all but guarantee a victory in the upcoming elections, it’s quite possible the prime minister had another reason for joining forces with Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman. Assuming that, politically speaking, Netanyahu remains Netanyahu, the merger with Yisrael Beytenu will easily allow Netanyahu to continue with his policy of neutralizing what he considers to be the more right-wing elements of his own party.
For in the event that the prime minister is unable to enforce party discipline on a key ideological issue, a scenario which in the Likud is almost certain to happen, his partnership with Liberman means that he will now have at his disposal a party based upon near-total obedience to the demands of its chairman.
Thus, even if several members of his own party are opposed to his stance on a certain issue or on a specific vote, all Netanyahu needs to do is to close ranks with Liberman to circumvent the will of his own party.
Equally important, on the key issue of Palestinian calls for statehood west of the Jordan River, the realization of which many consider would pose a threat to the continued existence of the Jewish state, Liberman, like Netanyahu, publicly supports a version of the two-state solution.
CONSIDERING ALL of the above, it’s difficult to take seriously the recent declarations about building in E1, or the ads being placed in right-leaning newspapers with pictures of Netanyahu, Feiglin and Hotovely ironically appearing on the same page.
After all, the real test is not a month or two before elections, but a month or two after elections. Moreover, the fact that Netanyahu supposedly doesn’t want the Bayit Yehudi in any future coalition only strengthens the idea that the prime minister, despite his newly discovered right-wing stance, really doesn’t intend on veering to the Right after the elections.
For all of these reasons, the choice for Bayit Yehudi should be obvious. For not only do the respective leaders of the two merged parties (Bayit Yehudi-National Union), Naftali Bennett and Uri Ariel, oppose the suicidal two-state solution, from the outset they have projected a clear pro- Israel line that resonates with more and more Israeli voters from all walks of life.
Moreover, the genuinely positive atmosphere being created by diverse candidates relinquishing their egos in order to harmoniously work together for a larger cause has left many in Israel with the feeling that finally something positive is happening in the ugly world of Israeli politics.
In addition, the greater the party’s success in the January elections the more difficult it will be for Netanyahu to keep them out of any future coalition. Needless to say, Bayit Yehudi’s presence in the next coalition would make it more difficult for the prime minister to continue with his habit of ignoring the more right-wing members of his own party.
THIS PERSONAL endorsement of Bayit Yehudi, however, and in fact the future growth of the party, is contingent upon the party finally parting ways with its “sector mentality” background.
Although people like Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and many others appear to understand this point, there are still some voices in the larger Bayit Yehudi world that are stuck in the sector mentality.
Such people fail to understand that although the party sprouted from the beautiful ideals and morality of the religious-Zionist world, and though it still carries these assets with it, it is no longer a narrow “religious Zionist party” which is meant to cater to the needs of one specific sector, but rather has evolved into a broader party which is meant to embrace and eventually provide leadership for all of the Jewish people. If Bennett and others around him can succeed in conveying this message both internally to the party and externally to the voters, then the sky is the limit.
The ultimate goal, however, in spite of everything written above, is that eventually all the good, quality MKs will sit together in one party.
For that to happen, Bayit Yehudi needs to blossom into a party of at least 15-20 seats while concomitantly the Likud needs to continue to strengthen itself ideologically.
If both of these things happen then it’s realistic that within five to 10 years a true nationalist leader will be elected as the head of the Likud.
When that happens, the two parallel parties will truly be superfluous, a precondition which will allow them to merge into one in order to finally have a powerful leadership party based upon the requisite ideals and vision to lead the nation.
Moreover, it’s irrelevant whether this merged party will be called Likud, Bayit Yehudi or some other name, since the party is merely the vessel to provide the leadership.
God willing, that day is drawing close.
Yoel Meltzer is a freelance writer living in Jerusalem.