Monday, January 12, 2015


Akiva’s Israel Election Primer–Part 3, Rightist Explosions #IsraElex

Jews moving to live in Israel usually find Israeli politics incomprehensible.  With these primers, I’ll attempt to simply what’s going on within Israeli elections – if that’s possible.

Primer Topic #3 – Rightist Explosions

imageFirst a commentor question…  “Why is HaBayit HaYehudi the only party to hold primary election this Wednesday?” --- Because party primaries, if they happen at all, are PRIVATE events of each party.  Each party can decide whether or not to have primaries, and if so their own primary rules as well as when, where, and eligibility to vote.

The Meretz primary was an open one a few weeks ago.  The Likud primary was semi-open, with reserved slots controlled by the party head and the ability to vote only if you’ve been a paying Likud member for 2 years or more.  This Wednesday Bayit Yehudi is holding a mostly-open primary, where anyone can run contingent on being a party member, having 150 supporting member signatures, and paying a NIS 7,000 fee to qualify.  Any Bayit Yehudi paying member can vote… but there was only a 1 week window to join the party this election season, and that window is closed.

On to our primary topic…

The Likud party is Israel’s “right” “conservative” party with a long history in the nation.  They’ve been the ruling party in various governments since the 70’s.  What’s being “right” in Israel?

Economically - Over years Likud has moderated the socialist system, privatizing some industries and opening others to competition.  Some…not all, not even most.  They’ve moderated the tax system…slightly.  They removed currency controls, that was a big deal.  They reduced import controls and import duties on some goods, and private imports on small amounts (items under $200). 

Peace-wise – In peace moves, the right has been a FAILURE as rightists.  EVERY peace treaty with the Palestinians, as well as the evacuation of Gaza, started under a Likud / rightist leader.  (Similarly the settlements were started by the leftists – who now distain them.)

Religiosity – The right holds that the “status quo”, the current situation of synagogue and state in Israel, should be maintained.  Shabbat should remain a State sanctioned day of rest, with blue laws (restrictions on business practices on the day of rest) staying in place.  The State should continue to provide basic funding for religious services and religious education.

Perhaps 50% of the “Right” is STRONG RIGHT.  They are seriously religious Jews and/or staunchly pro-Land-of-Israel.  No giving away of Land for Peace, and serious about zionism.  The other 50% is center right… they’re more interested in economic loosening and just want national stability.

Similar to Labor, Likud has support of ~15% of the Israeli voting population, and floating / fluctuating support that can range from +5-15%.

BUT parts of Likud believe you can’t win elections in Israel being right, it scares the media and the centrists.  

imageBayit Yehudi seems to have grown into support of ~10% of the voters, and may grow higher in this election.  They are their own strange mishmash – a merger of a group of merged parties. Many of these smaller merged parties are or started as pure settler or ultra-zionist parties.  The current party head has been very successful in reducing the pure settlement focus and very-strong national-religious focus, and instead re-focusing the party as “just being strong proud Israelis”.  Doing so grew their support from a niche 5% to their current 10%, and prediction are they will net 15% in the next election.

BUT every time the Right starts to strengthen, a number of leading (but usually second string) politicians within it decide that they are the personal reason for the success of the Right – and bail out starting their own INSTA-parties.  And every time they do this, the sabotage the Right’s strength on the national stage.

In this election a leading MK from Bayit Yehudi bailed out to join with Eli Yishai in the new Shas-alternative party, and MK Kachalon from Likud bailed out to start Kulanu.

NEXT EDITION – The Religious Parties, where G-d tells you how to vote.


  1. In general, your overview so far has been fairly good and accurate too. My issue on this post, is that some points are not.

    The Likud is not conservative at all, e.g. Republicans(US) or Convservatives(CAN). The explict name of the part is Likud - the National Liberal Movement. The Likud is a merger of various 'right-wing' parties of not recent past and recent past and this legacy still lives on until today.

    The Bayit Yehudi primaries are also as 'semi-open' as the Likud. Bennet also has his reserved spots and there are other reserved spots as well. Likud has various reserved spots besides the leader choices.

    The Mafdal (original BY) was never 'pure-settlement', frankly, they were more 'pro-education' and pro-religion. Yesha settlements were definitely important, but the legacy Mafdal was pro-settlement in general which includes the kibbutzim and Yesha.

    I don't think that BUT every time the Right starts to strengthen is accurate. Again, just as people have left (Yitzhack Mordechai, Moshe Peled, and Cahlon (left as he perceived the Likud sinking not really strengthening), others have joined (Sharansky and Effi Etam) and some left and rejoined (David Levy).

    a leading MK from Bayit Yehudi bailed out to join?? Perhaps Shetboun was 'kindly asked' to leave the party the same way that Liberman personally recommends resignation to the MKs he wants to otherwise fire? Perhaps Shetboun was also fed up of the 'dumbing-down' and secularization of the Bayit Yehudi? The use of the word 'bail' (and in the same sentence as Cahlon) infers that this young new MK has greater political personal aspirations than the BY themselves.

    And to give zchut to Cahlon, perhaps he was also fed up with the #1 in the party and the direction Bennet is taking the BY.

  2. This is probably simplistic, but so far it seems "all ego personalities first, under differing banners (parties), with principles last.

    While it should be PRINCIPLES (and welfare of the Jewish People) first!

    I'm waiting for the analysis of the religious parties to see if there is any real difference.


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