Bennett on Soccer Legend Ohana: We Need to Reach Out to Others

January 26, 2015  

Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett explained on Monday evening the reasoning behind his recruiting former soccer legend Eli Ohana to the party.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Bennett said that he reached out to Ohana in order to attract more voters, resulting in a stronger Jewish Home after the elections.

“Tonight is a happy night for me,” he said. “I got to know Eli Ohana and his story touched me. A child who grew up in a poor family in Jerusalem but instead of griping, he found the courage to support his family on his own and, using his own 10 fingers, succeeded in soccer and in life. Ohana is not one who apologizes,” he added, referring to the Jewish Home’s election slogan.

Bennett responded to Ohana’s past support for the expulsion of residents from Gush Katif, as reflected in interviews he gave to the press at the time, noting that Ohana no longer believes in expulsions.

“As for his support for the disengagement, Ohana thought at the time that it was the right move but he has woken up to reality and is against any concession of any part of the land of Israel,” Bennett stressed.

Responding to allegations that reserving Ohana the #10 spot on the Jewish Home list would push down candidates from the religious Zionist sector, Bennett replied, “Ohana is close to Judaism. This is the test of the sector – are we elitists?”

“Religious Zionism has always said it is open to everyone but was not open enough and the question now is how inclusive we are willing to be,” he continued. “We now have eight residents of Judea and Samaria in the party, and the question is whether we are willing to open our home and our heart, open up to someone who is different from us, not just in statement but also in fact.”

The true test, said Bennett, “is to open the heart for someone out of our comfort zone. If we only bring more people from the settlement enterprise, we will remain a small party.”

Bennett was asked what contribution Ohana can bring to parliamentary work, seeing that he has never been engaged in politics, and replied that “Ohana is a leader. He was the coach of the national under 19 soccer team, he has skills…being an MK is not only about parliamentary work. Ohana raised generations of young soccer players passionately with his skills and ability to identify potential.”

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