One cannot remain indifferent to Aryeh Deri. Once his name was mentioned in connection with the Jerusalem mayoral race, all hell broke loose. Old fans reemerged, as did haters from the ‘90s. It is as though Sleeping Beauty, that is, our political system, woke up after being kissed by one prince.
The shortage in charismatic people is so severe that the mere mention of Deri’s name as a mayoral candidate was enough to excite the ultra-Orthodox masses. Now let’s take a look at the National-Religious community, which is preparing for the next elections at this time. Well, don’t start yawning yet. The question hovering above the endless speculations regarding the new party list is “why don’t we also have one Aryeh Deri?” That is, somebody who can head the Religious Zionist party list and regain the honor which this community deserves.
When it comes to Religious Zionism’s political establishment we can identify maybe three people in the past decades who were marginally charismatic and had the potential to sweep many others. It is no wonder then that many within the Religious Zionist camp are sighing: “Why don’t we have our own Aryeh Deri?” Yet the sad truth is that there is no Deri, and there won’t be one, because National Religious voters are a little different that the people who vote for Shas. These voters are much more critical and much more demanding.
The average Religious Zionist voter certainly does not want politicians who comply with everything the rabbis say, or ones who lead their rabbis into politics as is the case in the ultra-Orthodox and Shas-supporting camp. And let’s be honest here, literally speaking: To our great joy, the National Religious camp would not agree to be led by a person convicted of bribery offenses.
Therefore, in the future the National Religious camp will continue to have to make do with conscientious and trusted public servants. As is the case with other parties, if here and there we see someone emerge with leadership abilities and a little charisma it would be a nice bonus. An attractive Knesset list would also certainly be meaningful.
Yet in any case, it would be difficult to find a Religious Zionist Aryeh Deri; and to be honest, we shouldn’t be looking for one.