“HaBayit HaYehudi has been accessible to all the people of Israel for a very long time now. This debate is over. When we have a secular woman in the No. 1 spot on the list, followed by Rabbi Eli Dahan, Yinon Magal and Ronen Shoval; when we have people from the army; when we have Ashkenazi and Sephardic [of Middle Eastern/North African origin] Jews; men and women; young and old — the dream has already come true.” Naftali Bennett, chairman of the HaBayit HaYehudi Party, wrote this in a Facebook post on Jan. 30, after former soccer star Eli Ohana announced that he was leaving the party, just three days after Bennett pulled him out of nowhere as a winning card: Ohana is a Mizrahi (Middle Eastern) Jew, a Likud supporter, traditional, successful, popular and secular.
For Bennett, whose personal vision involves becoming prime minister of Israel, Ohana was supposed to hide the true face of HaBayit HaYehudi as an Ashkenazi party relegated to a specific sector, and to help it become Likud II. Bennett estimated that through this transformation, HaBayit HaYehudi could replace the Likud, and he could take over the prime minister’s office.