Rabbi Chaim Amsellem’s Am Shalem Party is banking heavily on attracting votes by pushing the IDF share the burden agenda, the need for chareidim to serve in the military. To date, despite his optimism, his party fails to earn the minimum number of votes to gain entry to Knesset.
In a political rally this week Amsellem stated “To bring about change, political power alone is insufficient for what is important is the courage that is tied to that courage”, speaking during a Tel Aviv press conference.
As he revealed his party’s election campaign, Amsellem explained he will gain widespread support with the slogan, Am Shalem – The Choice of the Brave, which will appear alongside the slogans Chareidim in the IDF – It’s not impossible and Moderate Yiddishkheit – It’s not Farfetched.
According to a Rafi Smith poll involving 2,000 people, including 500 chareidim, 86% of the respondents believe Amsellem is a courageous individual, Ayalon Zermon, Amsellem’s campaign chief explains. Ayalon added that 76% of the respondents have a positive opinion of Amsellem.
According to Walla News, quoting an Am Shalem “official”, the campaign is divided into three groups. Group one is the chiloni community that supports Amsellem’s effort to have chareidim serve in the IDF and believe in the sharing the burden effort. The second group is the traditional voters, traditional from a Jewish observance sense of the word and not political, those who seek moderate Judaism, those who maintain the traditions of the homes of their grandparents. The third group is those who are difficult to persuade, those who feel comfortable voting Shas.
Amsellem says “Shas is not fighting poverty but creating it. Shas takes this large productive tzibur and makes certain it needs Shas to arrange for stipends, scholarships and tzedaka. We oppose this. We are a party that believes in social justice achieved by education and the labor force.”
Ayalon says that 7% of the respondents are seriously considering voting Am Shalem, and this translates to 8.4 Knesset seats.
Amsellem says the heart of his campaign surrounds “עם ישראל, תורת ישראל וארץ ישראל”, in that order; and he will work towards sharing the burden and social justice. He feels it is important to maintain the country’s Jewish character, and while remaining within the rulings of halacha, we must look to be lenient when possible and not to be stringent in all matters.
He commented on the state giyur as well, pointing out “thousands are not viewed as Jews despite the fact that according to halacha, which is lenient in the matter.” He rejects that “those people, those who place themselves in life-threatening danger (referring to IDF soldiers) and give their share to the country should remain outsiders.”
Regarding the diplomatic process with the PA (Palestinian Authority), Amsellem says he too wants peace but this requires a genuine partner on the other side.
On the issue of women’s rights, Amsellem said that the torah gives women equal standing and it is not coincidental that there are three women on his party’s list for he feels they best represent the needs of the women voters.
Amsellem’s number three candidate is Reuven Agassi, from the Share the Burden forum, and he too spoke at the media event. Agassi explained why he, a non-frum person opted to sign up with Amsellem, a chareidi. “They ask me how I got to him and I ask ‘do you know someone better?’ I came to this party to work and I am working and will continue to work towards changing our country.”
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)