Unite the right, or fight fight fight: 10 things to know for July 22
Israel media review

Unite the right, or fight fight fight: 10 things to know for July 22

Ayelet Shaked takes the helm of the New Right, but is already being challenged on unifying the right-wing bloc under her leadership, including (reportedly) by Sara Netanyahu

Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett at a press conference in Ramat Gan, where the former was announced as the new head of the New Right party, on July 21, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett at a press conference in Ramat Gan, where the former was announced as the new head of the New Right party, on July 21, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

1. New Right, new leader: Ayelet Shaked ended months of speculation by announcing Sunday that she would be the new head of the New Right party.

  • The move is widely seen as a game changer for better or worse.
  • “Her characteristics are clear and well-defined: determined, thoughtful, planned out, focused, to the point and possessing a kind of personal magic. That’s how she conquered many goals and entered the hearts of the right wing. For those on the left she is bad, very bad,” writes Tova Zimuki in Yedioth Ahronoth.
  • “While Bennett was busy battling and putting out ultimatums, Shaked kept her distance, managed her battles against only those exactly opposite her and took credit when it was due her,” Mati Tuchfeld writes in Israel Hayom.
  • Astute observers note that not only has Shaked taken over the party, her former boss has now been totally removed from marketing materials, reflecting general unhappiness with Bennett and excitement around Shaked.
  • Walla News’s Yaki Adamker, noting that the party’s materials must have taken at least a day or two to put together, writes that the plan has long been for Shaked to take over the New Right. Bennett had no other choice, he writes, with Shaked clearly more popular and thought to have been able to lead the party into the Knesset had she been its sole leader last time around. Waiting on the announcement was simply a way to pressure other parties who will be affected by the move.

2. Search bloc: Shaked used the press conference announcing her return to push for her political bloc to unite under her rule ahead of the upcoming elections in September, calling such a move an “insurance policy” for the right/far-right.

  • By Monday morning, the conversation has turned exclusively to her talks to unite the right, and whether she can in fact do it.
  • The talks are essentially being set up as a battle between Shaked and Jewish Home leader Rafi Peretz, who is under heavy pressure to get out of her way.
  • “We are sick of the split, we want unity,” reads the top headline on the Israel National News website.
  • “Anyone with eyes in their head can see that running with two separate slates is suicide,” Yedioth columnist Shlomo Pyoterofsky writes.
  • “My hope is that Shaked will be able to form a technical bloc of all the parties top the right of Likud, including Otzma Yehudit. It’s clear to me that the bloc will come together because otherwise the right will be swallowed into the black hole,” writes Haim Shine of Israel Hayom.

3. Unified field: Getting the sides together might be easier said than done. Channel 12 news reports that sources in the URWP say they won’t give up the top slot to Shaked. “We saw what New Right is worth at the polls,” a source is quoted saying. “They are trying to come at us from a position of strength, but we won’t dance to their tune.”

  • URWP No. 2 Bezalel Smotrich tells Radio 103 FM that he hopes Shaked will show some flexibility.
  • But Walla news reports that the party has already leveled several demands at the rest of the potential far right-wing bloc: All odd-numbered spots on the list going to New Right, the No.1 spot going to Shaked and equal say over the campaign and coalition negotiations.
  • A flash poll by Channel 12 news, which is literally unbelievable and should be regarded as proof of nothing but the channel’s ability to waste money, shows New Right under Shaked winning a whopping six seats (polls last time around about the same distance out from elections showed the party under joint leadership winning the same or more) and a united New Right-Jewish Home slate under her leadership winning 13, which would barely beat the 12 that essentially the same party won in 2013 when it was called Jewish Home and under Bennett’s leadership.

4. Bad news for Bibi: Israel Hayom may be pushing for unity but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t seem so keen on Shaked leading a joint slate.

  • “He’ll do everything in his power to keep Shaked from leading a joint ticket and keep himself from having to face her and Bennett in coalition negotiations, with demands that go far beyond the justice and education ministries. At the moment, this is the prevailing obsession at the prime minister’s residence,” Haaretz’s Yossi Verter writes.
  • Yedioth calls Shaked’s comeback “a picture Netanyahu did not want to see.”
  • Several outlets report that Netanyahu and Peretz called an emergency meeting to join forces against Shaked leading the joint slate, though some note that the meeting was actually scheduled before Shaked’s announcement.
  • “The former minister of justice is perhaps the only figure in Israeli politics, from the right or the left, who manages in any way to threaten the prime minister, who has been in office for a decade,” Globes writes.
  • There are also reports that Netanyahu still hasn’t made up his mind.
  • Channel 20’s Eliran Tal claims that Netanyahu is the one pulling Peretz’s strings: “If Netanyahu wants one party under Shaked, he will demand Peretz give her the seat. Peretz can make do with No. 2 and a promise that he will still be education minister. If Netanyahu wants two parties, assuming that both will cross the threshold, he’ll insist on Peretz keeping the top stop and again we will go to the elections with a diffused right.”

5. Girl talk: Even if the prime minister hasn’t made up his mind, Ynet reports that his wife Sara Netanyahu was on the horn with Michal Peretz, wife of Rafi Peretz, telling her to tell her husband not to give up the top spot.

  • Mrs. Netanyahu is long thought to have had it in for Shaked, who used to work in her husband’s bureau. According to rumors, she is the reason Netanyahu refused to offer Shaked a top spot in the Likud
  • Yedioth quotes a source in Likud worrying that the family feud will hurt them at the polls. “In the end, this obsession will cost us dearly.”
  • Former Peace Now head and erstwhile political also-ran Yariv Oppenheim jokes on Twitter that Shaked noting that she is the only woman leading a party “is a direct attack on Sara Netanyahu.”

6. Rabbinical seal: On the other side, though, Shaked has managed to rally some rabbis to her side.

  • Among those coming out in support of a Shaked-led list are Rabbi Eli Sadan and Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu.
  • Channel 12’s Amit Segal notes that Eliyahu had earlier said that any secular person should be disqualified from leading the bloc, from an ethical point of view: “He should go back to rabbinical studies and leave politics to the side,” he chides.
  • But Haaretz reporter Chaim Levinson wonders what exactly Shaked or the party has done to earn the secular moniker. “Until they explain what is secular in their secular-religious party, we should continue to refer to them as another religious party,” he tweets.
  • Former settler leader Israel Harel writes in Haaretz that the rabbis are causing splits within the national-religious community and between New Right and URWP.
  • “If there is a basis – other than the desire for political-personal survival – that could eventually bring Bennett and Peretz together, it can be found in the one and only realm that really does connect them: the future of the Land of Israel. In the religious realm, especially when it comes to personal and gender issues, the abyss only seems to be growing, and is therefore unbridgeable,” he writes.

7. Bend it like Bennett: There is also some rare praise for Bennett for allowing Shaked to take over the party.

  • Ariel Schnabel of the right-wing Makor Rishon newspaper writes on Twitter that Bennett did the responsible thing for the nation when he “passed the baton to Shaked. Thanks Naftali. Now it’s Rabbi Rafi Peretz’s turn to show the same leadership and national responsibility.”
  • “Now that he’s outside the government is when Bennett finally shows some responsibility,” Sima Kadmon writes in Yedioth. “Unlike Shaked, who sought the best spot for herself, determined not to miss out on this second chance that was given her, Bennett put aside all the accusations and demands to rebuild his party from the ashes.”

8. Shaked Shmaked: While the right is pumped up about Shaked, those outside the bloc are not exactly getting out the party hats.

  • “The same crazy religious indoctrination in schools, the same planned destruction of the judicial system, but now with Shaked second and Bennett first? This is like switching a right sock for another right sock,” comedian Lior Schleien tweets.
  • Columnist Iris Leal writes on Twitter that she doesn’t get why Shaked thinks she’s so hot: “She’s really one of a kind. Likud slams the door in her face, as does the URWP. The only one who wanted her was her partner in the failure of the last elections, and here she is walking around like some hot political get, just because a few right-wing settler columnists fell a little in love with her.”

9. Not a sheethole: For those right-wing religious settlers really in love, ToI’s Shoshanna Solomon writes about a kosher sex shop in the heart of Tel Aviv.

  • Unsurprisingly, the shop is run by none other than the daughter of Shmuley Boteach, who made a name for himself by hawking his “Kosher Sex” book.
  • Chana Boteach tells Solomon that her religious clientele “browse through the clothes and then peek” at the other stuff.
  • Among that other stuff: vibrators, wands, dildos and all manner of other gadgets.
  • “Nothing is vulgar. Sexuality is complex. These are all things that can be used with a partner to create further intimacy,” Boteach says.

10. Net-cutting time: But who can think of sex when there was a whole lot more scoring going on in the White City, as Israel’s U20 team rode to a second straight victory in the European championships, beating France 92-84.

  • Yedioth Ahronoth, which splashes the win on its front page above Shaked, writes that the team “did the unbelievable” by clinching the two-peat, and at home to boot.
  • “I have no words but to say to this great team way to go,” former Israeli great Miki Berkovich writes in the Sport1 website. “You moved me and not just me. You got the whole nation to stand up, everyone is excited and in tears.”
  • More than a few pundits note that the team was helped along by the defection of some of Europe’s best players to the NBA, chief among them Luka Donkic.
  • As for Israel’s own star, Deni Avdija, making the leap, Elhanan Melamed writes in the Sport5 website that if he does, it won’t be thanks to his FIBA championship rings: “Most of the big stars at his age don’t go to these European U20 tournaments. They’ve already either been taken in the draft, prefer world championships or are already a legitimate part of a national team.”
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