New Faces of Israel's Election

Competition on Right and Center and for Orthodox Vote

Fresh Face: Ex-news anchor Yair Lapid may not become the next Israeli prime minister. But he leads a crop of fresh faces contesting this month’s general election.
getty images
Fresh Face: Ex-news anchor Yair Lapid may not become the next Israeli prime minister. But he leads a crop of fresh faces contesting this month’s general election.

By Nathan Jeffay

Published January 07, 2013, issue of January 04, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Israel’s January 22 general election looks unlikely to bring a change in who will be heading the government. But it does promise to shake up the Knesset by bringing a large, and in many cases controversial, cohort of new players into politics.

Among them are some hard-nosed ideologues whose likely ascension to Israel’s parliament is provoking consternation from their more moderate party leaders.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nemesis inside his Likud party attained a realistic spot on its election slate after almost two decades of political maneuvering. The radical Moshe Feiglin told the Forward in a recent interview that Netanyahu is “a great pilot, flying nowhere” and pledged that he will become prime minister and push Likud further right. Labor, which leader Shelly Yachimovich is trying hard to present as centrist, has the outspoken leftist Merav Michaeli in its number-four spot.

Two so-called political princes — sons of renowned politicians — have launched their own political careers with this election. Yair Lapid is leading his new Yesh Atid party, and Yair Shamir, son of Israel’s seventh prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir, shunned his father’s Likud party to run for Yisrael Beiteinu, which positions itself to Likud’s right.

Competition for the Orthodox vote is fiercer than ever — and now, it isn’t just the religious parties pursuing religious voters. The Orthodox Feiglin is appealing to religious voters, Lapid made popular rabbi Shai Piron number two on his list, and the Tzipi Livni party has a well-known Orthodox former soldier, Elazar Stern, in its second spot.

In the Sephardi-Orthodox niche, Shas, too, has a new challenger — party rebel and Haredi iconoclast Haim Amsalem, who is leading his new Am Shalem party. Shas is fighting back with the return of its crowd-pleasing ex-convict former leader Arye Deri.

Just as non-Orthodox parties are hoping to attract religious voters, the religious Jewish Home party is branching out and trying to attract non-observant voters, aided by its first-ever secular candidate, Ayelet Shaked.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.