EMMANUEL NAVON (right), and Yuli Edelstein 370.
(photo credit: Navon.com)
The only “Anglo” candidate for the Likud’s next Knesset slate may end up being a
In the 2009 election, no less than seven American-born
candidates sought Knesset seats with Likud but either dropped out or failed to
win realistic slots. This time around, the only announced candidate so far with
connections to an English- speaking country is Emmanuel Navon, who was born and
raised in Paris, but married a New Yorker, lives among American immigrants in
Efrat, and hopes to represent both English and French speakers in the
“Just living in Efrat you get honorary American citizenship,”
Navon joked in an interview at a popular Jerusalem waffle bar. “I attended a
bilingual school, went to England every summer, and then lost my English accent
in Israel thanks to my wife. I am not saying I can succeed where other [Anglo
candidates] failed but there are a lot of votes if you combine the English and
French speakers together. It’s time to leverage this political
Navon, who earned a doctorate in international relations from the
Hebrew University following his aliya in 1993, directs the political science and
communications department at Jerusalem Orthodox College and teaches at Tel Aviv
University and the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. After 12 years in
academia, he decided to make his political expertise less
“As an academic you can promote ideas but you can really
only promote them if you have political power,” Navon said.
reform in Israel has been discussed for so many years. One of the root causes of
so many of our problems is an election system that makes it hard to govern and
encourages corruption. I am entering politics to change the
Navon also hopes to engage in public diplomacy for Israel around
the world and help French immigrants move to Israel. He said French immigrants
lack the infrastructure facilitating aliya of Russian and English speakers, and
consequently, many newcomers return to France.
“The French community is a
large reservoir for aliya,” he said. “We are losing quality, professional,
Many of them just can’t make it. Without political
power nothing will be done to encourage French aliya and encourage French
integration in Israel.”
Navon is seeking one of the slots reserved for
immigrants on the Likud list. It is still unclear where on the list the slots
will be, but one immigrant slot is always high enough to enter the
According to Likud bylaws, the party primary will be held no
later than April, regardless of whether Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
initiates an early general election.
It was important to Navon to start
campaigning early, acquainting himself with the movers and shakers inside the
Likud central committee who hold a lot of sway over the 130,000 party members
who will vote for Knesset slate. He has had to persuade them that there is no
reason to elect a Russian immigrant to the immigrant slot when Russianspeaking
Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein and coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin will
be elected high on the list.
“I tell people that 20 years ago Russian
immigrants needed a slot but now they are taken care of,” he said. “Likudniks
have to change the way they think.
There is no point in a third Russian
speaker to attract that vote. A Western candidate like me who can represent
French speakers and Anglos can bring two or three seats.”
religious Zionist, but he decided not to join Habayit Hayehudi or the National
Union because he believes in voting for ruling parties and he does not believe
there should be smaller, sectarian factions.
He said he is aware that in
Likud, political rules change all the time, and Netanyahu could parachute his
own preferred candidate at the last minute.
“Even if they play tricks on
me, I will not think that running was a waste of time,” Navon said. “I am
creating awareness of Anglo-French voting.
You can’t use the fact that
rules can change as an excuse to be passive.
“Politics has to be a
longterm investment. It takes time, but it’s doable. Because I’m a Zionist, I
never believe in giving up.”