10,000 Russian immigrants could determine Kadima primaries

Livni and Mofaz have both campaigned extensively in immigrant strongholds such as Ashdod and Ashkelon.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
March 25, 2012 23:40
2 minute read.
MKs call Kadima members from party headquarters

MKs call Kadima members 390. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Kadima leadership candidates Tzipi Livni and Shaul Mofaz have been asking Russian- speaking members of the party to participate in Tuesday’s primary.

Out of some 95,000 Kadima members eligible to vote in the primary, more than 10,500 are immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

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Livni and Mofaz have both campaigned extensively in immigrant strongholds such as Ashdod and Ashkelon.

MK Marina Solodkin, who supports Livni, pointed out that a Dahaf Institute poll published on Friday found that under Livni, Kadima would take two seats away from Israel Beiteinu that the party would not win with Mofaz at the helm.

“In the last Kadima primary [in 2008], there was sympathy for Mofaz in my community, but now it is gone,” Solodkin said. “He was silent on issues that matter to us for three years while she built up a civil agenda with ideas about drafting a constitution, civil marriage and requiring IDF service.”

Solodokin predicted that Livni would win 75 to 80 percent of the Russian-speaking votes in Kadima, just as she won the backing of four out of the five Russian-speaking Kadima MKs: Solodkin, Nino Absadze, Robert Tibayev and Orit Zuaretz.

The only Russian-speaking Kadima MK who backs Mofaz, Yulia Shamalov Berkovich, questioned Solodkin’s numbers and those of Dahaf.

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“That poll is the biggest joke I have heard recently,” she said.

“Israeli Russian-speakers are right-wing. She took Kadima as left as possible. There is no chance that Israeli Russianspeakers will choose Livni over [Israel Beiteinu chairman] Liberman. Only Mofaz, who is a security man with experience, can really compete for us.”

Shamalov Berkovich said Russian-speakers were resentful of Livni for being “the worst immigrant absorption minister Israel ever had.”

“She was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, so she couldn’t relate to us,” she said.

There is no count in Kadima of immigrants from English- speaking countries who are eligible to vote in the primary.

Two Anglos ran unsuccessfully for Knesset seats with the party in 2008: Gila Waksman, who was raised in Australia, and Rumi Zonder- Kislev, who holds a Canadian passport.

An immigrant to Israel from England, who chose to remain nameless due to the sensitivity of his profession, said he joined the party a year ago because of its centrist ideology. He said he would come back to Israel from a trip to England just to vote.

“I’ve always considered voting an important political value,” he said.

“Kadima may be on its last legs after this election, but I still think it’s important to register my vote. I’m an unenthusiastic voter, but voting is important.”

He said he did not believe Livni was a good opposition leader. But he decided to vote for her anyway because of his disdain for Mofaz.

“I can’t vote for Mofaz because I don’t want Kadima to be Likud lite,” he said. “I don’t like the way he left Likud after saying he would stay. And I don’t think putting ex-military men at the top of the political system is a healthy thing.”

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