Despite what people may think in the wake of the Eli Ohana “incident,” Jewish Home is still a religious party, consults regularly with rabbis, and follows in the path of Religious Zionist historic leaders like Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hacohen Kook, the acknowledged father of the Religious Zionist (Mizrahi) movement, said Rabbi Tzefania Drori, the Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Shemona in northern Israel.
Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett actualizes Rabbi Kook's teachings of integrating Torah observance and participation in secular life. “I see him as an important leader who has successfully reached out to many different groups,” Drori said. “Today we are speaking about Jewish Home as becoming a force to be contended with in the Knesset. It's goal is to bring Rabbi Kook's vision to life.”
Just last week, Jewish Home was still engulfed in a major controversy that left many in the Religious Zionist community confused about what the vision Rabbi Drori discussed really is. Former soccer player Eli Ohana, chosen earlier in the week by Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett to complete the party's Knesset list, told Bennett last Wednesday night that he would not run after all. In a statement last Thursday, Ohana said that he had discussed the matter with Bennett “and I asked him to take me off the list. I did not expect the public outcry against my being placed eighth on the Jewish Home list. “I do not feel as if I am cut out for politics at this point in my life,” Ohana said.
Jewish Home voters and supporters have been up in arms over the decision to include secular soccer player Ohana on a prominent place in the Jewish Home list. His placement on the eighth slot of the list pushed other veteran members of the party, such as MK Zevulun Kalfa – who decided to resign from the party in response – further down the list.
According to Drori, the Ohana incident is “irrelevant. Including him on the list was unsuccessful but it does not reflect the rest of the list. The vast majority of the list is religious and follows the ways of Religious Zionism and Rabbi Kook. There are many secular people who identify with his ideas as well.”