Bennett Under Fire by Religious & Non-Religious Alike


bennBayit Yehudi party leader Naftali Bennett used his authority to appoint retired soccer star Eli Ochana to the 11th slot on the party lineup. The selection has backfired as there is a growingly audible sentiment among religious and non-religious party supporters opposed to the party leader’s selection.

As the criticism mounts, Bennett on Tuesday evening 7 Shevat called a faction meeting of the party’s MKs in the hope of mustering support for his move. Bennett is trying to avoid drastic decision, such as MK Zevulun Kalfa announcing he is quitting the party and dropping off the list because in his view, Bennett has lost sight of what Bayit Yehudi is about.

According to a Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) report, the meeting was not successful as tensions ran high amid efforts by Bennett to drum up party unity around his decision. Avi Wortzman called on Bennett to place Ochana in the 17th slot, and not the 11th. Shuli Muallem accused Bennett of disappointing those loyal to him.

Surprising her colleagues was MK Ayelet Shaked, who is not religious. She explained to her colleagues that they are upset at Bennett for betraying the religious voters, adding she and her non-religious voters are no less upset with his selection.

Rabbi Eli Sadan, Rosh Yeshivat Bnei David, a rabbi viewed as the “father of the IDF mechinot yeshivas” announced with the appointment of Ochana, Bayit Yehudi has become a “Likud 2” and he cannot endorse such a party. Following the meeting Bennett and Shaked were planning to visit with Rabbi Sadan to persuade him to change his mind.

The dati leumi Kippa website ran an online poll for visitors to the site, asking if they back the appointment of Ochayon to the 11th slot. 55.5% responded they will vote for Bayit Yehudi with Ochana in the 11th slot while 73.4% stated they would vote for the party only if Ochana is not in the lineup.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. The beneficiaries are likely to be: Likud, Yishai’s party (which needs all the help they can to get out of the corner they painted themselves into), or Kahlon’s party (of ex-Likudniks focusing on social issues and believed to be willing to ally with either side). If Bayit Yehudi helps Yishai by shooting itself in the foot, it could avoid wasted votes and improve the “right” overall position significantly.

  2. I understand his desire to broaden the party’s appeal by reaching out to traditional Sfaradim but this was clearly a serious misstep by Bennett who failed to consider the reaction of his core constituency.

  3. “Those who do the work of the tzibbur in good faith, HaShem will reward”.
    Because, we can be sure the tzibbur won’t reward Naftali. They only criticize him from the left and right.
    HaShem should continue to give him Chizuk to continue on his import mission