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.
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
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).
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
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