The Bennett Dichotomy

Last week I went to a talk given by Naftali Bennett. It was hosted by Tel Aviv International Salon, a forum that hosts events in English so that us Olim can have the Bennett-fit (see what I did there?) of getting our information straight from the source in our mother tongue. Well, I guess only if you’re an Anglo Oleh.

Bennett will have you believe that he’s going for a party that appeals to “Klal Israel” – the whole of Israel. I mean, it’s not stam that he named his party Bayit Yehudi, Jewish Home. And while he may be religious, you don’t need to be in order to believe in his party. Ayelet Shaked, number two on his list, certainly isn’t. Anett Haskia, an Arab woman ran in their primaries. Just love Israel as the Jewish homeland unapologetically is all that he asks. Seriously, stop apologizing.

On a more political note, he says that “the government needs to stop bothering people” (direct quote) and that economically we need more freedom. Essentially, we need what is known as a more laissez-faire approach. He gave an example about soy milk to explain the high prices of certain products. In Israel, there is a law stating that soy milk can only be called soy drink, which I’m guessing is because, in the words of Lewis Black, there is no soy teat. Since abroad there is no such law, it says soy milk on the carton and therefore cannot be imported (apparently slapping a sticker on the carton with the words “soy drink” is too difficult), thereby leading to the high price of soy milk. Jeez, government, if you’d just butt out we’d have cheaper soy milk!

Now I’ve reconfirmed my confirmation bias that Israel is a ridiculous country (though I love her to a million pieces), and we all know more than we ever needed to about a milk substitute.

Where am I going with this? Bennett wants less government interference when it comes to our soy milk and a variety of other economic policies that he didn’t really delve into. What he doesn’t want less government interference with is the Rabbinate.  As anyone who’s tried to get married in this country knows, you can’t do it if you love someone of the same sex. If you and/or your mother are converts and your converting Rabbi is not “on the list”, you can only get married here if you go through a second–and possibly third–approved, conversion – which aside from the cost of time and money, is incredibly insulting. If you don’t want a Jewish wedding because you’re atheist, sucks for you. If you went through a “kosher” Orthodox conversion and then later in life decided to return to a life of secularism, you’re conversion can be revoked.

Bennett was only asked specifically about same-sex marriage, so I can’t state as fact that his views extend to all of the aforementioned situations. His response was that he has no issue with gays, and believes that gay couples should receive the same benefits as married couples. He does not, however, approve of gay marriage. A sort of Jewish “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: I don’t have a problem with homosexuality I just don’t want to see them married in my country. In this sense, he believes the government is spot on. Hell, maybe even not enough of a buttinski.

We’re all Jew enough to make Aliyah, serve in the army, and pay taxes. But we’re not all Jew enough to marry.

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Former IDF Soldier
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