Liberman seeks Anglos’ backing in next poll

Multiple parties are considering fielding an immigrant from an English-speaking country as a Knesset candidate in the next election.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
September 21, 2012 03:13
2 minute read.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman

Avigdor Liberman 370. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir)

 
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Attracting new voters in English will be just as important as Hebrew and Russian for Yisrael Beytenu in the next general election, party chairman Avigdor Liberman said recently.

Liberman asked his English-language spokesman and close adviser Ashley Perry, who made aliya from England in 2001, to leave the Foreign Ministry and serve as Yisrael Beytenu’s deputy communications director.

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Besides assisting in Hebrew communications efforts, Perry runs the party’s Twitter account, its Facebook page with 2,400 likes and an English-language website that lists the party’s accomplishments.

Unlike other parties, whose English campaigns are only formed immediately before an election or are disconnected from the party administration, Yisrael Beytenu has Perry in charge of English-speaking volunteer campaign teams in 30 branches around the country.

“We see momentum and growing support in English-speaking communities, including many people who used to vote Likud or who backed religious- Zionist parties and have seen over time that Liberman is not anti-religious,” said Perry, whose father, Woolf Perry, was an adviser to former prime minister Levi Eshkol and former president Zalman Shazar.

Multiple parties are considering fielding an immigrant from an English-speaking country as a Knesset candidate in the next election. Perry said it was too soon to say whether Yisrael Beytenu would as well.

“Any potential Anglo candidate can present themselves to the party committee that drafts our Knesset list,” Perry said.

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“Serious candidates will be seriously considered and judged on their merits. We’re not looking for a token Anglo.”

Perry said that while putting an Anglo candidate on a party’s list shows a party cares about votes of immigrants from English- speaking countries, Liberman asking him to work for the party shows he cares about the issues that matter to them.

The issues Yisrael Beytenu will stress in trying to draft support from English speakers include electoral reform, helping immigrants and improving Israel’s public diplomacy. Yisrael Beytenu supports an American presidential system that would make it easier to govern.

Perry credited the party’s Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver with solving a crisis for olim from English-speaking countries, which was created when the Jewish Agency stopped funding free university education for them.

In public diplomacy, Perry was behind YouTube videos in which the party’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon explained key issues in Israel’s foreign policy. He also encouraged Ayalon to spearhead campaigns for a moment of silence for victims of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre and on behalf of Jewish refugees from Arab lands.

“Instead of talking about what we will give up in the diplomatic process, we are emphasizing Jewish rights and justice,” Perry said.

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