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The only candidate Anglos can 'Bank' on?
Gil Hoffman
01/01/2009
Detroit-born, Chicago-raised Uri Bank of the National Union is the only Anglo candidate who has any chance of getting elected.
 
Five US citizens ran for places on the Likud Knesset list, an Australian and a Canadian ran in Kadima, and another Canadian sought a seat in Israel Beiteinu, but none of them won a realistic slot. The Likud merged Sunday with MK Effi Eitam's Ahi Party and placed former Beit Shemesh mayoral candidate Shalom Lerner of Ahi, who has lived in New York, Baltimore and London, 39th on the joint list. But no poll has shown the Likud winning that many seats. The Greens, the Green Movement, a new electoral reform party called Yisraelim and a breakoff from the Green Leaf party are fielding Anglo candidates and are trying to pass the 2 percent electoral threshold for the first time. That leaves Detroit-born, Chicago-raised Uri Bank of the National Union as the only Anglo candidate running with a party currently represented in the Knesset who has any chance of getting elected. Bank was placed fifth on the National Union list that was submitted to the Central Elections Committee on Sunday as the top representative of his Moledet party following the retirement of its chairman, Benny Elon. The slot was a significant upgrade for Bank, who was 10th on the National Union list in 2003 when it won seven seats and 16th in 2006 when it won nine. According to a deal reached by the four parties that make up the National Union (Hatikva, Tkuma, Eretz Yisrael Shelanu and Moledet), if the list wins four seats and enters the government, the minister would quit the Knesset to make room for Bank. They also decided that Bank would become the faction's manager in the Knesset if they win fewer than five seats but remain in the opposition. A Jerusalem Post poll found that the public was not aware of the difference between the National Union and the more centrist, national-religious Habayit Hayehudi party, but that together they would split seven or eight seats. An internal poll sponsored by Tkuma last week found that the National Union would win five seats and Habayit Hayehudi three. The 40-year-old Bank lives in Neveh Daniel in Gush Etzion with his wife and three children. He made aliya from Chicago when he was 12 and stayed in the country on his own when his parents left the country five years later. In past elections, Bank ran as an Anglo candidate and campaigned specifically in large communities of native English speakers. This time, he still intends to organize events in the Anglo sector and to build an English-language campaign Web site, but he will also run on his right-wing, religious-Zionist ideology. "As an Anglo, I understand the need for checks and balances and making Israel more democratic more than my Israeli counterparts," Bank said. "But my main motivation in running is not only being the Anglo Congressman in the Knesset, it's also representing the people of Israel, Land of Israel and Torah of Israel." Bank will have a disadvantage in seeking Anglo votes because the Likud began campaigning in the sector two years ago, has regular events, and an English Web site updated daily. But Bank said the rejection of Anglo candidates in the Likud primary should sway Likud voters to his party. "If [Likud Chairman Binyamin] Netanyahu was serious about representing the Anglo community, he could have made sure that an Anglo would get on his list," Bank said. "It says something about the National Union that they put an Anglo candidate who ran with them twice before in a really realistic slot this time." Likud Anglos director Shalom Helman said Netanyahu made every effort to help Leiter, who following the merger and court cases ended up 42nd on the party's list. "[Leiter] didn't do as well, but [it was] in the Likud, which is a much bigger pond than a marginal party," Helman said. "But if we do really well and bring people out to vote then Lerner and maybe even Yechiel will be MKs, as they should be. And anyway, many of our candidates have been responsive to our needs, so not having an Anglo at the top of the list doesn't mean we won't have anyone representing us."
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