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Op-ed: You may disagree with Education Minister Naftali Bennett's agenda, but unlike our other government leaders, at least he has a clear and addressable set of goals for the state of Israel; he's leading and the rest are following.
Yoaz Hendel|Published: 03.08.16 , 18:09
It all comes down to a party's platform, or more accurately, the lack of a proper and clear message. This is also the reason for the current crisis: the reason why Naftali Bennet is being given a bunch of colorful nicknames by internet commentators calling themselves Likud members.
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Bennett has an organized political strategy, in which C areas of the West Bank are annexed by Israel, and the Palestinians are given enhanced autonomy in the rest. I believe it to be a partial and slightly flawed plan, but I agree with its overall logic. It's the closest thing to my world view. You can oppose this plan, but at least with Bennett you have something to oppose. Likud, on the other hand, has nothing to offer you.
Look for a single MK who'll tell you out loud Likud's plans about strategic matters. A two-state solution? The Saudi initiative (which, in the past, even leftist icons such as Yossi Beilin wouldn’t speak of)? Annexation? Jerusalem? No answers are available. And there isn’t even a party platform to reference.
Minister Naftali Bennet: Leading the way (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
What we do have is statements: The prime minister's Bar Ilan speech and scare tactics invoking the territory-giving leftists; a speech to Congress in which the Jordan Valley (south of Beit She'an) is mentioned; speeches mentioning a united Jerusalem, which happen while a construction freeze is in effect; speeches about defeating Hamas, while its people are being allowed to receive money through Qatar; speeches opposing the Palestinian Authority that happen in conjunction with support given to it via money transfers; speeches about the Temple Mount, alongside the act of ignoring the destruction of antiques there, as well as the beatings given by the Waqf people to archeologists last week.
A ruling party knows its limits. There are those who cheat their voters and speak of terrible threats, and there are those who are less keep to do so. But everyone cheats to a certain extent. It works, so long as they don't believe their own hype.
But let's set aside the state level, for a moment, and move over to social matters. Likud, after all, is the people's party. Culture Minister Miri Regev is the queen, the representative of the oppressed and the one who takes care of Mizrahi people's interests. But those who look in the right places can see cases she's ignoring completely.
This week, Yoav Laloum, an ultra-Orthodox lawyer, bravely made public the name of yet another ultra-Orthodox school – Beit Yaakov in Ramat Beit Shemesh – that is refusing to register girls with Mizrahi last names for next year. They're sitting at home, waiting. I read Laloum's words and was heartbroken. This is happening close to my home town. Little girls are being discriminated against right next to me, and no one is there to speak for them.
Shas doesn't seem to care very much about this discrimination, perhaps because it's not related to Channel 10 chairperson Rami Sadan. And Regev, who jumped at the opportunity to criticize an unimportant movie critic within ten minutes, isn't too bothered about it either. The issue of Mizrahi peope's standing in society is interesting to them when there's an election, and they need to scare the public about the duo of Herzog and Livni.
Is the Bayit Yehudi party any better on this issue? Not really, especially considering its acquiescence to the cancellation of a law requiring core subject education in the ultra-Orthodox sector, which included provisions against discrimination on the base of ethnicity. But at least Bennett has commissioned the Biton report and is trying to fix a historic injustice in education.
Shas chairperson Aryeh Deri. Cares about Mizrahi discrimination...sometimes. (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Bennett is a threat to the Likud because he's the one initiating moves, making the government follow him instead of being led by it. He only controls eight Knesset seats, but he determines everything.
Meanwhile, no one knows what Kulanu party Chairman Moshe Kahlon thinks about state-level matters; Yisrael Beytenu Chairman and Minster of Defense Avigdor Lieberman is busy building up his security bona fides; the ultra-Orthodox party leaders are busy dealing with ritual baths; and PM Netanyahu? He's been following Bennett's lead for the past year – backing up or clashing with the security establishment, anything he can to preserve his standing compared to the education minister.
And the Likud internet commentators are frustrated to no end.