Herzog tops Labor fundraising battle

Candidates spar on religion and state; Labor Party leadership candidate raises more than twice as much as anyone else, according to State Comptroller’s website.

Herzog 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Herzog 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Labor Party leadership candidate MK Isaac Herzog is not leading in the polls but he has won a crucial battle ahead of Monday’s primary: The fight for campaign funds.
According to the State Comptroller’s website, Herzog raised nearly NIS 1.1 million, more than twice as much as any other candidate.
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The list of Herzog’s contributors reads like a who’s who among Jewish leaders around the world. It includes American philanthropists like Slim-Fast billionaire S. Daniel Abraham, Birthright Israel founder Michael Steinhardt and Hillel’s international board of governors chairman Randall Kaplan.
Among British communal leaders, Herzog received hefty donations from United Jewish Israel Appeal chairman Mick Davis and president Sir Trevor Chinn. Among Australians is former United Israel Appeal chairman Albert Dadon. Herzog’s mother Ora gave him NIS 25,000.
MK Amir Peretz was the second- highest fundraiser with NIS 540,000.
His list of contributors includes Peruvian tycoon Baruch Ivcher and Kadima MK Meir Sheetrit’s wife, Ruth.
Former Labor chairman Amram Mitzna, who raised NIS 427,888, received many contributions from Boston, which is connected in the Jewish Agency’s Partnership 2000 program to Haifa, where he was mayor.
Keeping her promise not to accept money from tycoons, most of MK Shelly Yacimovich’s NIS 390,000 in contributions were small donations from average citizens.
She did not receive any donations from abroad.
Millionaire venture capitalist Erel Margalit, who quit the race on Wednesday, did not need donations, but he received a large sum from California philanthropists Howard and Marcie Zelikow and a smaller amount from former Police Investigations Unit head Moshe Mizrahi.
Three of the four candidates faced off on matters of religion and state Thursday night at Kfar Saba’s Masorti (Conservative) synagogue Hod Vehadar on a panel for Labor members that was organized by the Masorti Movement.
Masorti Movement head Yizhar Hess complained that Yacimovich did not attend the event or reply to a questionnaire on religion and state issues that was answered by the other candidates. Hess said it was unfortunate that Yacimovich’s views on matters of religion and state remain unknown.
The candidate willing to go farthest on religion and state issues was Mitzna, who supports civil marriage, gay marriage and requiring haredim to serve in the IDF or national service. He complained about the haredi takeovers of secular neighborhoods and referred to efforts against haredim as a “war.”
“We don’t have to fear speaking out against haredim, because they won’t vote for us anyhow,” Mitzna said.
Peretz and Herzog were more careful. Peretz said he believes haredi schools that don’t teach the core curriculum should still be funded.
Herzog said programs encouraging haredim to enter the work force and the IDF should continue by “evolution.”
He spoke fondly about his experience with the Conservative movement, including attending Camp Ramah in the Poconos.
“It is unjust that Reform and Conservative rabbis in Israel can’t perform weddings,” he said.