The Likud-Beytenu list changes tactics • Instead of attacking Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett, it goes after other candidates on his list, saying they are extremists or chauvinists, and that one called for abolishing the Committee on the Status of Women • Habayit Hayehudi: ”We have three women in the top 12 spots. The Likud has only one.”
After a detente of several days, the Likud-Yisrael Beytenu joint list has renewed its attacks on Habayit Hayehudi, the party headed by Naftali Bennett, who, according to polls, has been siphoning a steady stream of votes away from Likud ahead of the Jan. 22 Knesset election. After attacking Bennett for his position on disobeying army orders, this time Likud is attacking the party's positions on women.
"Many of the people who are considering voting for Habayit Hayehudi are unaware of the connection between that party and the [far-right] Tkuma party and its leaders," a Likud source told Israel Hayom.
The Likud is seeking to emphasize that most of the candidates on Habayit Hayehudi's list are unknown to voters, and that some of them hold views that are sexist or extremist. The charisma of high-tech millionaire Bennett has managed to attract interest, but many potential voters would be turned off if they knew more about the other candidates, Likud sources say.
On Wednesday, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, Chairman of the Likud campaign, launched this line of attack in an appearance at Bar-Ilan university.
"One issue on which the parties differ is the status of women," he told his audience. "Voters need to decide if they want to vote for Likud-Beytenu, which has had five chairpeople of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women. Voters need to decide whether equality between men and women is an important value to them. If it's not important, then by all means vote for a party whose No. 4 candidate, Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, was director-general of the rabbinical courts, and who has called for the Committee on the Status of Women to be abolished. Or whose No. 9 candidate, Moti Yogev, headed Bnei Akiva and spearheaded gender separation within the youth movement."
The Likud has also criticized Rabbi Dov Lior, the rabbi of Kiryat Arba, who sits on the Council of Tkuma Rabbis and is considered one of the more important rabbis on the Right.
Two and a half years ago, Lior was one of about 50 rabbis from all over the country who signed a manifesto stating that there was a Halachic (Jewish legal) prohibition on selling or renting apartments or land to Arabs. In June 2011, an arrest warrant was issued against Lior after he refused to appear for questioning over his endorsement of the book "Torat Hamelech" by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, which deals with the laws of killing non-Jews in a time of war. Lior has also written in the past that he believes women should marry at a young age and devote themselves mainly to motherhood.
The Likud has also singled out Habayit Hayehudi's No. 10 candidate, Orit Strook, 52. A resident of Hebron, Strook is a Tkuma representative and director of the Human Rights in Judea and Samaria organization.
Her work involves submitting complaints against police officers who use excessive force against right-wing activists. Her son is currently serving two and a half years in prison for violently attacking a 15-year-old Palestinian boy.
The Likud has also called attention to Rabbi Hillel Horowitz, 48, No. 13 on Habayit Hayehudi's list. Horowitz is also a resident of Hebron and a representative of Tkuma. Horowitz opposes recruiting Arabs to military or national service and has said in the past that they should be regarded as "guests in our land." He is also a close friend of far-right activist Baruch Marzel.
In a statement, Ayelet Shaked, fifth on the Habayit Hayehudi list, responded to the attacks from the Likud, saying, "Habayit Hayehudi has three women in the top 12 spots, while the Likud has only one. Ours is the only party in Israel where women were selected not as part of a package deal, but on account of their work and accomplishments. [Campaign consultant] Arthur Finkelstein's chauvinist campaign will [backfire and] allow us to put Gila Finkelstein in the Knesset [by winning an 18th mandate]. We suggest the Likud look elsewhere for rivals and not get dragged into a chauvinist campaign of incitement against women."
Meanwhile Wednesday, the Election Committee ordered Habayit Hayehudi to pay a fine of 4,000 shekels for misusing Israel Defense Forces imagery.
The fine was for a series of party ads featuring Israeli soldiers alongside the party name and a short message. In one such ad, soldiers are seen participating in a military drill with the slogan "loving the country, serving the country." Using digital manipulation, a soldier wearing a kippah and tzitziyot (ritual fringes) was added to the original picture.
In his ruling, Election Committee Chairman Justice Elyakim Rubinstein wrote that the digital manipulation was apparently done "in an effort to suggest that the ad's target audience serves in the army and contributes its share. But the law seeks to distance the IDF from the labels of any political body. The image tries to create the impression that the IDF is affiliated with Bennett's party and that the party is affiliated with the IDF."
The issue arose after Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer filed an official complaint with the Election Committee. Oppenheimer is also running for the Knesset in the election.
In response to the ruling, Habayit Hayehudi issued a statement saying, "We respect the committee's decision. Oppenheimer's attacks have helped build a lot of Jewish homes in Israel in the past, and now they are helping build the Jewish Home party. In the end he will be voting for us too.”