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I’m voting for Bennett

Bottom line? He won't give away land

In my blog of January 2, Pinning Jell-O to the Wall, I opined that as the Israeli electoral campaign wore on, the party platforms were becoming hazier, rather than clearer. I saw difficulties in:

  • Distinguishing between statements issued for public consumption versus the actual positions of the candidates
  • The failure of the candidates’ social media teams to engage with and respond to the public
  • The lack of English material available from parties whose platforms are meant to appeal to native English speaking immigrants
  • Separating the truth from negative campaign smears

I was delighted that my blog post generated interaction between some party leaders and activists with the public, thus demonstrating once more the power of blogging for my esteemed host, The Times of Israel.  I was exceptionally pleased that Jeremy Man Saltan identified himself as the English language campaign manager for the Jewish Home party, made his email address public: Jsaltan@thelandofisrael.com, offered to answer any questions put to him, and posted (at long last) an English-language translation of his party’s platform. In our direct correspondence, Jeremy urged me to let my readers know that he’s also a happening presence on Twitter.

A one-issue gal

As I stated in the aforementioned blog, I’m pretty much a one-issue gal: no land giveaways, under any circumstances. That’s pretty much what I told Jeremy. I liked his answer.

I was concerned because Otzma L’Yisrael supporters claim that Bennett’s plan called for ceding the rights to Areas A and B. That would mean (for instance) saying a permanent goodbye to Joseph’s Tomb. I had not previously understood Bennett’s plan as a land giveaway so it was important for me to be able to ask someone in the party outright: what do you mean by offering “self-governance” in Areas A and B? Is this another land giveaway?

Jeremy explained to me that in Bennett’s plan, nothing would change regarding the current status of Areas A and B. The only change that would take place is in Area C, where Bennett hopes to end martial law.

Full disclosure: I live in Area C.

I tell people I live in the wild, wild, West Bank. Though Israelis who live in Judea and Samaria deplore the use of the term “West Bank” as a propaganda tool, things really can get wild out here and, as the Forward’s Philologos column puts it, the law, as it is applied to the rest of Israel, does not apply:

What, after all, is ‘the West Bank?’ It is a translation of the Arabic term al-daf’a al-gharbiya — which is a rather odd term for Judea and Samaria when you consider that the “bank” in question is that of the Jordan River and that these territories are both separated from that river by the Jordan Valley and are not on its bank at all. And in fact, this was not a term ever used for them by their inhabitants or, for that matter, by anyone at all, until King Abdullah’s Arab Legion occupied them when it crossed the Jordan westward in its 1948 war against Israel.

At any rate, since martial law applies in Judea, where I live, a general state of lawlessness exists. The roads are dangerous. Careless driving is the norm and there is a strong penchant among our local Arab population for stoning , throwing Molotov cocktails at, and shooting at Israeli cars. The military does little to stop these incidents for fear of politicians’  and world censure.

It is long past due for us to declare Area C part of Israel proper. Like Bennett says in his plan, the world is going to censure Israel anyway, so let them add the annexation of Area C to their list. What’s one more issue for them to scream about? We need to do what is right for us: those who live here. Ending martial law would benefit all those who live in Area C – not just the Jews. Meantime, the status of places in Areas A and B, for instance, Shchem/Nablus, would not change.

Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

All the dirt that the other parties and party activists have thrown at Bennett in an effort to stop his seemingly unstoppable surge to the top appears to be baseless:

  • He is not affiliated with or taking funds from the New Israel Fund.
  • He is not aligned with or taking orders from Rav Dov Lior.
  • His party is not “messianic.”
  • He is not going to dismantle outposts.
  • He is not into taking preemptive violent action against the Arab population of Israel.
  • He is not calling for full-scale military insubordination.

All that stuff is just fear talking: the fear of marginal parties who just haven’t got what it takes to generate the kind of following that Bennett has created just by being fresh, principled, and honest. So they’re engaging in a smear campaign to try to bring him down.

As far as I’m concerned, Bennett is the real deal. I’m sold.

That’s all she wrote. . . for now.

About the Author
Varda Epstein is a blogger and Communications Writer for Kars4Kids.org www.kars4kids.org