Ohana Quits Jewish Home List after Furious Backlash

January 29, 2015  

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 Wednesday night that he would not run after all.

In a statement Thursday, Ohana said that he had discussed the matter with Bennett late Wednesday, “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.

Upon hearing of Ohana’s resignation, Kalfa said Thursday he was returning to Bennett’s party, retaking the 18th slot.

On Tuesday, MKs and supporters held an emergency meeting to discuss the matter. At the time, Bennett said that the decision was final, but that didn’t stop a furious outburst from his close colleagues, signifying the serious impact of the decision on the party’s unity.

MKs threatened to resign en masse, and among the threats that resonated the most was one by Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Eli Ben-Dahan who said he had spoken with Rabbi Eli Sadan, a senior religious Zionist rabbi, and that Sadan has threatened to cut his support for the party due to the decision.

“If this process is acted on I will go from yeshiva to yeshiva to tell students not to support Jewish Home,” warned Rabbi Sadan, according to Ben-Dahan.

In his statement, Ohana said that he was leaving the list willingly, but with regrets.

“I joined the party in order to make a contribution and to help those in need in Israeli society, but all I have been experiencing are ongoing attacks on myself, my family, and Naftali Bennett. I know that those who disagree with this decision have the right intentions, but I do not wish to see anyone further hurt by this issue.”

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