by Jason Gold
First the public apology. I wrote before the elections that Bayit Yehudi was a Mafdal re-tread and that it would be politically impotent because Bibi would not let it into the coalition, etc etc. Well I was wrong. You held fast, and here you are trying to make your mark.
I would say based on objective viewing that you are trying very hard to do what's best for the country. You are speaking your mind on the hot-button issues such as the "two-state solution" in its latest incarnation, as well as the Hareidim vis a vis the draft. I applaud you for helping bring these issues into a more coherent framework of discussion. On a personal note, I like you and think you may have a large upside.
Unfortunately, your success in the high tech field and your winning smile, eloquence and charming personality did little to prepare you for the hand to hand combat of Israeli politics. You are a novice and it clearly shows with people in your party like Opher Shelah running amok with the same old tired "settlers are to blame" garbage. Or backing the wrong Rabbinical candidate and having Aryeh Deri pull your underwear over your eyes in a royal political wedgie.
And why the alignment with Yair Lapid? Perhaps you were afraid that if Yesh Atid got in, Bibi (and Sara, of course) would shut the door on you? OK, you get points for that. But by now, you must realize that behind the good looks, the teeth, the hair, is a Hareidi-hating bigot and another inexperienced disaster waiting to happen which makes your allegiance with Lapid a real potential liability. I believe he is worse than his father because with old "Tommy" at least you knew what you were dealing with. He hated the religious, and there was no doubt about it. Yair is much more subtle in expressing his views and enmity not only about the Hareidim but by also claiming Oslo Agreements as the greatest thing since sliced bread. You must realize by now that Lapid is using the Hareidim as a wedge or populist issue by hitting a well-known public hot button first to get to get Yesh Atid into power and then keep them there. Come on, Hareidim en masse into the army? Really? Let's be honest here. They don't want to go in and the army doesn't want them. And the Arabs? Do we really need a fifth column of Israeli Arabs in the IDF when polls show that 75-80% of them support violence to liberate "their lands"? We are not talking about the Druze here. This "share the burden" nonsense must have looked good on somebody's laptop or blackboard but like all progressive/leftist/utopian visions, it never translates well into real life. How about jobs, Naftali? Forget the army nonsense and get more job training programs for those (and there are a lot) Hareidim who want to work. Did you see the Hareidi job fair summit in NY this week? Let's get on the stick and put that entrepreneurial skill of yours to work.
Coming out against the two state solution the NY Times took real testosterone but now what's your plan? You have spoken about "limited annexation" in Yesha but we both know that limited will have to become "all" eventually for security reasons so why not just say it outright? You can't be a "little pregnant" in this situation. Who knows? perhaps you were confused by John Kerry's resemblance to Yair Lapid.
It's funny but it seems all these outspoken ideas of yours are just watered-down versions of what Moshe Feiglin has been saying for a long time. Annex Yesha? Yes, ALL of it. One Chief Rabbi? Yes and you didn't think of it first, Naftali. It seems you are testing out Moshe's ideas to see if they have any traction with the public and then perhaps you can claim them as your own? And if that is the case, and you can't claim an original idea as your own, at least you're plagiarizing from the best.
Let's take your public wind balloon trial of Moshe's ideas one step further. The only plan for the draft in Israel and one that will get rid of one of the main pillars of hatred against the Hareidi ("my son goes to the army and yours sits and learns in Yeshiva") is a voluntary higher-paying professional army so that whoever doesn't want to go, doesn't have to. Want to claim this idea as your own, too? Sure, why not? But considering the first Knessset Caucus on this was yesterday under Moshe's supervision, it might be a little harder.
As a final thought, keep up the hard work, but know who your real allies are.