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by Clifford F. Thies

Naftali Bennett, a tech millionaire, is the the new chairman of HaBayit HaYehudi, the Jewish Home Party, which is surging in the polls, and looks to finish maybe second or third, behind Netanyahu's new Likud Party, and neck-and-neck with the Labor Party.

The Jewish Home Party is a former right-wing, religious party, and as such is part of Likud's ruling coalition. But, the Jewish Home Party has re-positioned itself as a more moderate or "modern" religious party, and is making an explicit appeal to Americans who have made aliyah (or, "return").

With regard to ethnic appeal, it would complement Likud (which appeals to sephardim and Russian Jews) and Labor (which appeals to Ashkenazim). The re-branding of the party as a more modern religious party, continuing to stress the importance of love of Israel and Jewish values, along with the charisma of its boyish leader, has enabled the Jewish Home Party to emerge as serious contender for leadership in the Knesset and to concern itself with a more complete agenda.

Some of this expanded agenda is hinted at in the following ad. The ad talks about a quality Jewish education, which as a religious party in the ruling coalition, has been one of its priorities. The ad also talks about universal service, which refers, on the one hand to the exemption given ultra-orthodox Jews (the haredim) and on the other hand to the exemption given Arab Israelis. Naftali Bennet, a lawyer, in addition to being a politician and a former very successful businessman, is also a soldier, having served in special forces units during the Second Lebanon War, and is currently a Major in the reserves.

Photo - Ayelet Shakud, top advisor to Naftali Bennett and a Jewish Home Party candidate for Parliament. More on the party's platform at YNetNews.

 





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