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Jan 20, 2015

Haredi women to run for Knesset

Yesterday it was announced that a, another, new Haredi party will be running in the upcoming elections. This one is a womens Haredi party.

That makes:
 * UTJ
 * Shas
 * Perach
 * Netzach-Eitz
 * Yachad - Haam Itanu (it sort of counts as Haredi)
 * Bzchutan, this new womens party

6 Haredi parties to be running in the upcoming elections, giving the potential Haredi voter a plethora of choices. Competition is always good. It makes everyone perform better.

There seems to be this impression that this new party, Bzchutan, is the outgrowth of the movement a few weeks ago of Haredi women who announced that unless the Haredi parties find a way to integrate women into their party lists, they will not vote for the Haredi parties (or any other party).

To me it seems that it is not. Ruth Colian, a woman with a long-standing fight with Shas about female representation, is behind this new party. As far as I can tell, none of the women involved in the original protest are involved or behind this new party. It is the natural next step, but it seems to be other people behind it, and not the same. It does not really make a difference, but it seems this new party is riding the wave created by the original women.

The chances of this new party making it into the Knesset is infinitesimal, but that is ok. Just like Nachshon ben Aminadav had to be the first to jump into the sea, someone needs to be the first to create such a party. They might not make it, but maybe next time, or the time after that, they will.

A lot can happen. If they even make it to election day still standing, they will be fortunate, forget about even winning any seats. We know the classic parties are intolerant of break-offs and others that might threaten them by taking a few votes away or minimizing their power, even if just a bit. These women will be pressured and threatened, some will drop out, others will stand strong. Perhaps some of the parties mentioned above will merge or find a way to run together, or the larger of them may offer them a deal of some sort. Or they might just succumb to what will be intense pressure.

Either way, their very existence right now marks a major shift, and the future of Haredi representation in Knesset will surely be different than it appears today.

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