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Election Could Push Israel Further To The RightDr. James M. Wall Salem-News.com
Likud is losing votes to a party even more conservative. The brash newcomer is the previously little-noticed Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party.
(CHICAGO) - Israel’s 19th general election, Tuesday, January 22, is almost certain to be won by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.
There is no serious Liberal election opposition to Likud. What is serious, however, is the very real possibility that after this election, the Israeli government could turn even harder to the political right.
In the final weeks of the campaign, Likud has been losing votes to a party even more conservative than Likud. The brash newcomer is the previously little-noticed Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party.
The leader of Bayit Yehudi is a 40-year-old charismatic newcomer to Israeli politics, Naftali Bennett (shown above), who has emerged as the hottest new personality on the Israeli political scene.
To form a majority in the 120-seat Knesset, Netanyahu may be forced to add Bayit Yehudi to Likud (Netanyahu) and Yisrael Beiteinu (Lieberman).
If Bayit Yehudi does vault from three to as many as 15 Knesset seats, be prepared to hear more from Naftli Bennett. Based on his well-publicized positions, what we hear will not bode well for peace in the Middle East. And it most certainly would not not bode well for a Palestinian population’s desire for political justice.
The New Yorker’s David Remnick describes Bennett as “a settlement leader, a software entrepreneur, and an ex-Army commando. Bennett is “a man of the far right”, who was elected director general of the Yesha Council, the main political body of the settler movement.
Bennett is not a political newcomer. He worked as chief of staff for Benjamin Netanyahu before running into opposition from Netanyahu’s wife, a clash that has upended other chiefs of staff for political leaders.
Bennett showed a flare for political leadership that played well in the current restlessness of those Israeli voters weary of being told they have to yield land that many feel “belongs” to them. Bennett developed a strong set of conservative convictions which Stanger explains:
Bennett does not live in a settlement. It is ideology and nationalism, not residence, that unites Bennett to his party. He lives in Ra’anana, a small city north of Tel Aviv that Remnick says is full of “programmers and executives”, many of whom share his pro-settlement views.
Bayit Yehudi’s political program unites the settler movement with the religious/nationalist conservatives who share the party’s rejection of any further talk of a two-state “solution”.
Remnick quotes Bennett: “I will do everything in my power to make sure [the Palestinians] never get a state.” ”No more negotiations, no more illusions.”
During the recent assault on Gaza, Bennett was a proponent of a ground invasion and criticized Netanyahu when he limited the conflict to a week of air strikes.
This kind of talk has apparently electrified younger, prosperous and ideological conservative voters, who embrace the settlements as righteous claimants to the land that “belongs to Israel”.
David Remnick offers this closing word on Naftali Bennett:
What would Chuck Schumer, the Israeli clearance officer for President Obama’s cabinet appointments, think about that development?
Please visit Jim's Website, Wall Writings
Journalism was Jim Wall’s undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. An ordained United Methodist clergy person; he and his wife, Mary Eleanor, are the parents of three sons, and the grandparents of four grandchildren. They live in Elmhurst, Illinois.
Jim served for two years on active duty in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF (inactive) reserve. While serving with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years, starting in 1972. Time magazine wrote about the new editor, who arrived at the Christian Century determined to turn the magazine into a hard-hitting news publication. The inspiration for Wall Writings comes from that mindset and from many other sources that have influenced Jim’s writings over the years, including politics, cinema, media, American culture, and the political struggles in the Middle East. Jim has made more than 20 trips to that region as a journalist, during which he covered such events as Anwar Sadat’s 1977 trip to Jerusalem, and the 2006 Palestinian legislative election. He has interviewed, and written about, journalists, religious leaders, political leaders and private citizens in the region. You can write to Jim Wall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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