Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu was reelected as party head with 73% of the vote. Netanyahu, who has served as Deputy Foreign Minister, Foreign Minister, Finance Minister and Prime Minister of Israel, beat off a passionate challenge by Jewish Leadership faction chairman Moshe Feiglin, who received 23% of the vote. Another challenger, World Likud chairman Danny Danon, garnered 4% of the vote.

Feiglin ran with the support of a homogeneous Orthodox group of 150 or so Likud Jewish Leadership central party members. They campaigned throughout the country with a platform that called for stronger reaction to Arab attacks, while calling for a nation-state that would be grounded in God and traditional Jewish values.

This reporter spent Likud primary election day in Sderot, a small, working-class town comprised of primarily Sephardic Jewish Israelis. They now live on the new civilian front line of Israel, under daily rocket attacks from Gaza, and facing additional problems of economic depression and wanton neglect by the Israeli government. The state refuses to provide appropriate protection for schools, appropriate repairs of bomb shelters and appropriate military responses focused on population centers in Gaza. It is those centers that host the terrorists and rocket launchers terrorizing the population of Sderot and the Western Negev over the past seven years.

With Moshe Feiglin posters plastered throughout Sderot, and with anger against every aspect of the Israeli establishment in every corner of the city, the question posed to Sderot Likud members was simple: Will you support Feiglin, who is indeed calling for a stronger response to the attacks that are plaguing the city? The answer that was almost universally expressed on the lips of Sderot voters was: “Feiglin is not one of us…. Why did he not put people on his factional candidates list from Israel’s development towns, people who are not Orthodox, not Ashkenazi and not middle class?”

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 Moshe Feiglin as an Israeli WASP – a White Ashkenazi Sabra with Protexia. (In Israeli terminology, one who has “pull” with the establishment is said to have protexia.)

The lesson to be learned from this week’s elections is that any future challenger to Likud party leadership must rid himself from any such Israeli-style WASP image. After all, one of the reasons why Netanyahu lost the 2006 Knesset election was that he lost much of the working class Sephardic vote. This shift occurred after the cutbacks Netanyahu initiated in social services, child allowances, pensions and support for handicapped people during his term as Minister of Finance, 2003-2005. He never regained any enthusiastic backing among this key sector of the Israeli electorate.

There was an opportunity for Feiglin to pick up support with the Sephardic working class – and he did not use it.



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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.