Feiglin adopts Obama’s fund-raising strategy

Feiglin is seeking to obtain as many small donations as possible from ordinary Israelis.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
January 21, 2012 23:39
2 minute read.
Moshe Feiglin.

Moshe Feiglin 311 . (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Likud activist Moshe Feiglin holds a significant lead over Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ahead of their showdown in the January 31 Likud primary – not in voters, but in contributors.

Netanyahu has raised more money for his campaign than Feiglin, more than $142,000 since 2012 began, according to the website of the State Comptroller’s Office. But all his contributions came from 18 wealthy Americans and Brits who gave large sums.

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Feiglin, who in the past did most of his fund-raising in the United States, took a different strategy this time, seeking to obtain as many small donations as possible from ordinary Israelis.

He has raised about half as much money as Netanyahu, but of the 180 people listed as contributors to Feiglin’s campaign on the comptroller’s website, only six live abroad.

Likud activist Shmuel Sackett, who has been fund-raising for Feiglin since 1993, said he was inspired by US President Barack Obama, who asked ordinary Americans to donate as little as $3 (though his campaign website lists a minimum of $10).

Sackett said such small donations send an important message.

“Our campaign is a grassroots effort,” he said. “It’s important to enable as many people as possible to feel like they are a part of it.”

Sackett normally goes to the US to raise money during Feiglin’s campaigns. Feiglin has supporters who have been backing him for years in Toronto, Chicago, the greater Washington area and especially the modern Orthodox communities in Long Island and Queens, New York, and Teaneck, New Jersey. This is the first Feiglin race in which Sackett has stayed in Israel.

“This is where the battle is being waged,” Sackett said. “I obviously wouldn’t turn down donations from abroad, but this is the first time all my effort are focused here.”

Netanyahu’s associates have said in the past that he prefers not to seek donations in Israel in order to prevent conflicts of interest.

But his donors abroad have gotten him into trouble.

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss is expected to release a report soon on current and former ministers’ trips abroad. The report is expected to focus on Netanyahu’s overseas trips and his contributors who funded them illegally.


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