The Israel election season started early and enthusiastically for
hundreds of English-speaking Israelis, who offered a standing-room-
only audience at Jerusalem´s Heichal Shlomo Wednesday evening for an
unusual forum featuring the Jewish Home Party current head, Minister
Daniel Hershkowitz, and challenger Naftali Bennett, a high-tech
entrepreneur who most recently served as the Director General of the
Yesha Council. Current head of the party Zevulun Orlev was forced to
cancel his attendance but delivered prepared remarks which were
included in the program.
The event was organized by two young American-born media
personalities, Jeremy Gimpel and Ari Abramowitz, as the launch event
for their campaign for the Knesset. The party´s national primary vote
is scheduled for September. The event allowed the people in
attendance to register as members of the party.
Gimpel and Abramowitz are the names behind TheLandofIsrael.com, an
online media effort that has registered hundreds of thousands of
followers on social media and recorded millions of views for their
YouTube film series on Israel.
In summing up their campaign’s message, Abramowitz and Gimpel said
that they were “interested in spreading a new message of Zionism in
Israel.” They identified social responsibility as a key action item
they would advocate immediately upon entering office, including
addressing issues like poverty in the community of Holocaust
survivors, cleaning up the environment, and freeing Jonathan Pollard.
In respect to Pollard, Abramowitz announced that he would support a
bill to name Pollard as Israel’s president, immediately following the
conclusion of President Shimon Peres’s current term.
"Electing Pollard as president following the conclusion of Peres’
term would highlight the injustice of his imprisonment and apply
unparalleled pressure on America to release him," said Gimpel. "Why
has no Israeli prime minister in the past 26 years ever publicly
called on the US to free Jonathan Pollard and repatriate him to
"Clearly, our belief that many, many people in Israel are still drawn
to the key values of religious Zionism was confirmed this evening,"
said Gimpel, whose announcement for the Knesset was met with extended
applause "Seldom has a primary-related event drawn 500 people in
Israel for any of the larger parties, much less for the much smaller
one we hope to represent in the next Knesset."
Abramowitz, who conceded that he wasn’t a “traditional politician,"
yet if elected is "committed to making a real difference in Israel’s
parliament,” added, "The people are aware of what we´re trying to do
to revitalize the philosophy of Rav Kook, but we see now that the
leadership is also attuned to our message. The leaders of the party
came together for the first time in a forum like this to state their
case and tell our voters why they should also support each of their
candidacies for party chair."
Minister Hershkowitz stressed his belief that theJewish Home Party
should never be diverted from its core message of religious
Zionism. “The Party can never deviate from these ideals of dedication
to Torah, without ever forgetting about our connection to the land,
and true leadership means adhering to those two principles.”