Special Interview Druckman Pondering Possibility of New Israeli Religious Party

MK Rabbi Chaim Druckman of the National Religious Party (NRP) said that when he returns to Israel this week from his present U. S. visit, he will decide whether to quit the NRP and form his own faction to run in the upcoming general elections in June.

“It is likely that I’ll decide to leave the NRP,” Druckman said in a special interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency here. “There are many factors involved. This is a very serious decision,” he said.

Druckman, who was among the founders of the Gush Emunim movement and was one of the few MKs who voted against the Camp David accords and the peace treaty with Egypt, said that the question for him is whether he can “fight for my beliefs within the framework of the NRP.” He said that if he reaches the conclusion that he cannot fight for what he believes in within the NRP he will quit the party and set up his own political faction.

He said he believes in the “complete Eretz Yisrael” conception which advocates the inclusion of Judaea, Samaria, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights in the State of Israel.

ASSESSES ROLE OF NEW PARTY

Druckman, who was in the United States for a two-week lecture tour sponsored by the American Zionist Youth Foundation, said that if he forms his own party he expects “a great number of people” to join him, among them educators, scientists, religious leaders and rank-and-file citizens.

Asked if the formation of a new religious party would not split and therefore weaken the religious camp in Israel, Druckman replied: “In case I decide to form a new party it would be out of a deep conviction that this act would rebuild the religious Jewish community and would be a contribution to the people of Israel as a whole.”

The 49-year-old Druckman, who is a member of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, said that one of the major challenges facing the State of Israel is the challenge of Jewish education.

“We must deepen the roots of Jewish education,” Druckman declared, “because the lack of roots in Jewish education is the cause for some of the most negative developments in Israeli society, and has contributed even to yerida (emigration) from Eretz Yisrael.” The solution, Druckman stressed, “is Jewish education with the traditional values of Eretz Yisrael.”

During his visit to the United States, which included many lectures to Jewish students and youth, Druckman said that he was “deeply impressed” with his audiences.

THE CHALLENGE OF ALIYA

“There is a need to challenge them with aliya to Eretz Yisrael,” Druckman said. “I believe that a real challenge to American Jewish youth can influence many of them to go on aliya. This is what Israel needs, aliya, and this is the real solution to the question of Jewish majority in the territories of Eretz Yisrael.”

Druckman also said that he found among American Jewish communities “a lot of warmth toward Israel and a lot of support to Israel’s firm positions on issues which are vital to our future in Israel.” He said that this support for Israel’s “firm positions” was contrary to what has been published in the press in the name of American Jewry.

On the issue of Israel’s worsening economic situation, Druckman said “it is time we should demand that the public recognize the severity of the situation and for it to start living in a state of national emergency, austerity and belt-tightening.”

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