Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press Likud Party leader and former Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu arrives to vote at the party’s primary elections, in Jerusalem yesterday. Members of Israel’s hardline Likud party voted in a leadership primary yesterday, with Netanyahu assured of victory but concerned a strong showing by settler extremists could embarrass him and the party.

Jerusalem – Early figures from the Likud primaries yesterday indicated that Benyamin Netanyahu, who graduated Cheltenham High School in June 1967, was re-elected as the Likud party head with 73 percent of the vote.

Netanyahu, who has served as deputy foreign minister, foreign minister and prime minister of Israel, beat off a passionate challenge from Moshe Feiglin, head of the “Jewish Leadership” faction of Likud, who received 23 percent of the vote. Another challenger, World Likud chairman Danny Danon, garnered 4 percent.

Feiglin had the support of a homogeneous Orthodox group of about 150 Likud “Jewish Leadership” members who campaigned throughout the country. Their platform called for stronger reaction to Arab attacks and a nation-state that would be grounded in God and traditional Jewish values.

Moshe Feiglin posters were plastered throughout Sderot, a small working class town of primarily Sephardic Jewish Israelis who live on the new civilian front line of Israel, now under daily rocket attacks from Gaza. Sderot residents were asked: Will you support Feiglin, who is calling for a stronger response to the attacks that are plaguing the city? The almost universal answer was that “Feiglin is not one of us…. Why did he not put people from Israel’s development towns who are not Orthodox, not Ashkenazi, not middle class, on his list?”

Indications are that people from Sephardic working-class towns who could have provided a swing vote for a Feiglin victory felt that Feiglin did not reach out to them and did not speak their language. In other words, people of Sderot and similar towns identified Feiglin as an Israeli WASP: a White Ashkenazic Sabra with Protexia. (“Protexia” is the Israeli term for someone who has “pull” with the Israeli establishment.)

The lesson to be learned: Any future challenger to Likud party leadership must rid himself of any Israeli-style WASP image.

Until recently, Likud led the polls as the party likely to win the next Israeli election and form the next Israeli government.

David Bedein can be reached at His Web site is

©The Bulletin 2007


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David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.