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Campaign calls for Americans in Israel to vote
By GIL HOFFMAN
18/05/2012
Poll released exclusively to ‘The Jerusalem Post’ finds twice as many eligible voters in Israel prefer Romney to Obama.
 
Uncle Sam wants you to vote in the November 6 American election. Or at least a group of well-funded American immigrants to Israel do.

They started the iVoteIsrael Campaign, which its organizers describe as “an issue-based campaign, expressing their desire to see a Congress and administration who will support and stand by Israel in absolute commitment to its safety, security and right to self-defense, without endorsing any specific candidate or party.”

A campaign spokesman said the project is funded by contributions raised in the United States, mainly in small increments from individuals and foundations within the Jewish community and the Christian communities.

The organizers were inspired to take action by the 2000 presidential race, which was decided by 537 absentee ballots cast in Florida, of which only 64 came from Israel even though there are thousands of Floridians in this country.

Bearing in mind how close the current presidential race could be, they hope a record number of the estimated 150,000 eligible voters in Israel register to vote by absentee ballot and get in their votes on time.

To that end, the campaign set up the ivoteisrael.com website to simplify the process for Americans in Israel to register and vote. The campaign will help by phone and email, and will even send their regional coordinators to your house to help you and mail your ballot for you.

“We want to see a president in the White House who will support and stand by Israel in absolute commitment to its safety, security and right to defend itself,” a campaign spokesman said. “Since we believe that ‘there is no such thing as friends in politics, only interests,’ we started thinking about how to be proactive about this. We – as American Israelis – are punching way below our weight, and we set out to change that equation.”

The organizers hired international political strategist Aron Shaviv, who spent weeks building a statistical sample of 744 eligible American voters in Israel.

The poll, which was conducted by the Shvakim Panorama company and released exclusively to The Jerusalem Post, found that 59.9 percent said they would likely, very likely, or definitely vote in the US election, 19.6% said it was unlikely, and 18.1% said they would definitely not cast their ballots.

When asked how they felt about casting their ballots, 44.9% said they felt they had the same right and responsibility as any American citizen to do so, 11.3% said they felt a higher duty to vote, 19.1% had reservations about it, and 17.9% said they felt they should not vote.

Among respondents, presumptive Republican candidate Mitt Romney received 32.3%, compared to US President Barack Obama with 14.7%, with 27.2 calling themselves undecided. The remaining respondents did not provide an answer. Among the 27.2% undecided, 66% said they viewed Obama unfavorably and 19.5% favorably, while 25.6% viewed Romney favorably and 17.3% unfavorably.

Unlike American Jews in the US, who polls have found put domestic issues ahead of Israel, two-thirds of Americans in Israel say Israel-related issues are key for them. When asked to define them, they cited Iran, aid to Israel and the candidates’ position on territorial concessions in Judea and Samaria.

When asked about Obama’s position on Israel, 63% called it unfriendly and 33% friendly.

Asked about his position on the Muslim world, 85% called it friendly and 7% unfriendly.

Republicans Abroad Israel cochairman Kory Bardash responded that the past three years have given a solid majority of US voters in Israel an unfavorable impression of Obama.

“The fact that whether a president is favorable to Israel needs to be asked is disturbing,” Bardash said. “It is unlikely that any candidate in history, let alone an incumbent Democrat, has been perceived by so many as unfriendly to Israel. Because of Obama and his policies, a lot of registered Democrats in Israel will be crossing the line in this election.”

Sheldon Schorer, spokesman for Democrats Abroad-Israel, said, “This was a poll that apparently questioned most Republican voters, and does not accurately describe true voting preferences. In 2008, the voters polled [now] said that they voted for McCain 2 to 1 over Obama, although the actual vote was 78%-21% in favor of President Obama.

“I believe that the upcoming election will show a similar strong showing for the president. Only those people who are irrevocably prejudiced against him will fail to recognize that President Obama has proven himself to be a strong friend of Israel and that Israel would benefit from his reelection.”
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