According to the results of the Social Guard in the Knesset’s “Social Index,” the Jewish Home party was the least socially-minded of any party during the 19th Knesset. Although the party may have had a low ranking as a whole, there was a great deal of variation within the party itself – Shuli Mualem-Rafaeli, for example, consistently voted in a much more socially-conscious manner than her other fellow Jewish Home MKs. On the other hand, several party members came in with negative scores despite a relatively high rate of attendance at votes on socio-economic issues.
The Social Index is published at the end of each Knesset session and examines how Members of Knesset voted on socio-economic bills. Votes that align with the values of the Social Guard in the Knesset win Members of the Knesset positive points, while those that clash with the Social Guard’s values lead to negative points. Non-votes do not affect the ranking in either direction. The index of the 19th Knesset includes all of its sessions, with votes weighted based on in which session they occurred and on their perceived importance to create a range of possible scores from 100 downward. A list of all the bills that were examined in the Social Index is available in Hebrew here.
Excluding Yoni Chetboun, who left the faction to join Eli Yishai’s new “Ha’am Itanu” party, all Jewish Home members are running for reelection. Tens of thousands of new members joined the party in recent months, meaning that a large percentage of primary voters are “independents,” meaning that have no connection to specific factions or candidates within the party. Among the party’s swelled voter lists are roughly 5,000 English-speaking voters, a block of notable size and importance within the party.
In total, 42 candidates are running for roughly 10 “realistic spots” on the party’s list – polls predict that the Jewish Home will win about 16 seats, of which three are reserved for members of the Tkuma faction, one for Naftali Bennett, chairman of the party, and three are reserved for candidates of Bennett’s choosing. Considering the fact that the party has been branding itself recently as “socially conscious,” it is important to look at how the party’s Knesset Members actually voted and what differences there were between them.
Knesset Member Shuli Mualem-Rafaeli scored the highest of all Jewish Home MKs on the Social Index. Mualem-Rafaeli returned a score of 37.3 on the Index, almost three times higher than the score of the next highest faction member, Zvulun Kalfa (a member of Tkuma). MK Mualem-Rafaeli also attended a high number of votes on socio-economic issues – 241 of 425, or 57%.
Minister Uri Orbach comes in third place among Jewish Home MKs on the Index, with a score of 13.3. He attended a relatively low number of votes, perhaps due to his position as a Minister, but when he did attend votes, voted in a much more socially conscious way than many other members of the party.
Orit Strook, a member of Tkuma, came in second place among Jewish Home MKs in terms of attendance of votes, after Mualem-Rafaeli, but her votes were decidedly against the socially conscious agenda, and she ended up scoring a negative 4.2 on the Index. Meanwhile, party chairman Naftali Bennett came in eighth place among party members, scoring a negative 0.5. He attended only 6 votes on socio-economic bills during the Winter 2014 session, garnering him a participation rate of just 9%, and during those votes he did attend, he voted decidedly against the socially conscious agenda. Perhaps now he’ll find something that’s worth apologizing for?
Nissan Slomiansky, Chair of the Knesset Finance Committee, came in second-to-last place among Jewish Home MKs on the Social Index, attending a similar number of votes as Orbach, but with a much different result: he ended up scoring a negative 8.4 for his anti-socially conscious votes. In last place in the party, Avi Worzman scored a negative 15.4. Worzman has sought to brand himself as socially conscious during the primary campaign due to his experience as Vice Minister of Education, but his voting record tells a decidedly different story – he comes in as the least socially-conscious of all MKs who served the full term of the 19th Knesset.