Orthodox Numbers Set for 60% Rise in Knesset

40 Seats May Go to Ultra-Religious, Fueling Harder Line

Big Jump: Ultra-Orthodox Israelis campaign in upcoming election. Polls show a sharp jump in the number of devoutly religious lawmakers who will win seats in the Knesset.
getty images
Big Jump: Ultra-Orthodox Israelis campaign in upcoming election. Polls show a sharp jump in the number of devoutly religious lawmakers who will win seats in the Knesset.

By Reuters

Published January 19, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

David Stav, a moderate Orthodox rabbi running for chief rabbi in a poll later this year, says such fears are overblown.

“This is not going to be a theocracy,” he told Reuters. Most religious politicians are “committed to a Jewish and democratic state and don’t want to see themselves as coercive to others”.

Nevertheless, centrist as well as right-wing parties are fielding religious candidates. Netanyahu has made a point of having himself photographed with skullcap-wearing voters.

A rabbi has joined ex-television star Yair Lapid’s centrist list. Former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has tapped an ex-general who wears a skullcap for her centrist party as well.

In past elections, Orthodox politicians mainly represented smaller parties focused on religious issues. Their integration into larger parties is helping them to gain more seats in parliament, although Orthodox Israelis are still a minority.

A survey by the Jerusalem-based Israel Democracy Institute found last year that 22 percent of Israeli Jews were observant, including the ultra-Orthodox and more moderately Orthodox, far outnumbered by the 78 percent who were non-observant.

Yet they may exert a disproportionate influence.

Religious movements seeking to expand Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and deny the Palestinians a state are supplanting once-powerful kibbutzniks as symbols of Israel’s self-declared national mission, many experts say.

The kibbutz, the collective farm movement identified with Israel’s early settlement of the land, long dominated military and political leadership, despite its relatively small numbers. Pollsters say the kibbutz movement may win no seats next week.

“The ideological tables have turned and religious Zionists are taking over the national discourse,” said Tamar El Or, a Hebrew University anthropologist, adding that the trend was not new, but was now translating into influence in parliament.


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!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • 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.