New organization aims to get Anglos politically active - Our Time is Now

The organization intends to try to change that reality immediately, by encouraging the estimated 300,000 native English-speaking voters to become more politically active.

By
August 16, 2019 20:43
New organization aims to get Anglos politically active - Our Time is Now

INTERACTING WITH the crowd at ‘The Jerusalem Post’ debate during the last election, at Beit Avi Chai in March. From left: Roy Folkman of Kulanu; Ruth Wasserman of Blue and White; Lahav Harkov and Steve Linde of the ‘Post’; and Caroline Glick of New Right.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

English-speaking immigrants to Israel tend to be invested in Israeli politics but have not found a way to have significant impact inside any party in an organized manner, the founders of the new organization Our Time is Now told In Jerusalem.

The organization intends to try to change that reality immediately, by encouraging the estimated 300,000 native English-speaking voters to become more politically active wherever they are on the political map so parties will start addressing the needs of English speakers in a more serious manner.

“We don’t have to sit quietly while others make decisions that so impact our lives,” said former MK Dov Lipman, Our Time is Now’s founder and director. “Our voice, if we unite and become party members as a group, can be incredibly powerful.”
If that number of English-speaking voters is accurate, it would be more than the amount of voters for either Shas or United Torah Judaism, which each won eight seats in the April 9 election.

Our Time is Now will encourage English speakers to join the parties that hold primaries among its members or activists, which include Likud, Labor and Meretz, and the organization is looking into working with Bayit Yehudi and Zehut, which have had primaries in the past and New Right, which vows to have primaries in the future.

Leading ministers, Knesset members and candidates in the parties have welcomed the initiative and come on board the effort, including Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud), Labor Knesset candidate and former secretary-general Hilik Bar and former MK and Democratic Union co-leader Stav Shaffir.

“We are always open to initiatives that will widen the circles of our party members, and we are calling for more and more English speakers to join Labor,” Bar said.

Shaffir said she hears from frustrated veteran and new immigrants from English-speaking countries on a daily basis who complain that the government is not serving them well enough. She vowed to strengthen ties with them, when there are elections ahead and when there are not.

“The English-speaking public in Israel stand out and make a major impact,” Shaffir said. “They also serve as a key bridge to English-speaking Jews all over the world. That is why what Lipman is doing is an important Zionist initiative, and I will do all I can to ensure its success.”

Likud English campaign coordinator Rachel Broyde said, “The English-speaking community is incredibly important to us. The Likud is looking forward to welcoming new members and to integrating the Anglo community into the Likud family.”
The parties involved said that having more Anglos in their party would enable them to advance issues helping their community, such as getting their professional degrees and certificates recognized and avoiding being double-taxed by the American and Israeli governments.

“If we Anglos become members of these parties en masse, in whatever party we choose to join – and this initiative is non-partisan, we don’t care what party you join, only that you become more politically involved – we can have a say within those three parties on who should be the leader, who would be the candidates running for Knesset and who will sit on the central committees,” Lipman said.

Lipman said that, for example, a mass Anglo membership drive in Likud can impact the party’s central committee election in a year-and-a-half and even enable the election of members from the Anglo community to the central committee, which has significant power over what happens in the party.

IF THE effort is successful, English speakers could then have influence over the leadership races and Knesset elections in the parties. Lipman stressed that he was not making the effort for any personal gain and that he was enjoying being on the sidelines politically.

“Once we have a significant group within these parties, then its leaders and Knesset members will have no choice but to hear and address issues of concern from our population,” Lipman said. “It’s a matter of math: Representation equals strength. If we become members as an organized bloc, each person according to their ideology, we can have remarkable influence.”
Gideon Ariel, a Likud activist who made aliyah at age 14 from Queens, New York, and now lives in Ma’ale Hever, praised the initiative, saying he would like to see a lot more English speakers joining parties and making an impact. He said he has been impressed by the level of influence English speakers already have in Likud, which hired Broyde to coordinate its campaign for English-speaking immigrants in both the April and September elections.

The Likud is planning events in English with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Likud leaders in cities with large English-speaking populations.

Sources in Likud lamented that past efforts to unite English speakers in Likud did not succeed in organizing them into a bloc that voted together. They said it makes no sense that the English-speaking community does not have more Likud central committee members, when only some 300 votes are needed to get elected to the powerful body in the current ruling party.

“There are thousands of English speakers who are Likud members, but they have never voted as a bloc because it’s never organized,” a source in the party said. “The ego fights have been very frustrating. People distrust anyone who wants to unite them. They don’t empower each other or support each other. If we don’t value ourselves, who will value us?”

 Parties that do not have primaries will not be part of the effort, even if they do a lot of outreach to English speakers, like Lipman’s former party, Yesh Atid, which is running as part of Blue and White and makes a point of having English events with leader Yair Lapid and other candidates.

Lipman faced criticism on social media for not including Blue and White in the effort.

“Dov, you are an influential leader in the Anglo community,” wrote Aron Lazarus on Twitter. “There are two major parties fighting this election. There is no question that your decision to help people join Likud in large numbers, and refusal to help people join Blue and White, could influence how one votes this time.”

Lazarus noted that Lipman did say New Right would be involved based on mere promises of a future primary, even though it did not have one for its candidates in the April and September elections.

“New Right has made a public announcement that they will have primaries going into the next election,” Lipman responded. “If Blue and White does so, I will be happy to encourage people to join. We are also cautioning voters that New Right has not done it in the past and to keep that in mind.”

Lipman said he would welcome more feedback. Volunteers across the country will respond to those who express interest at ILourtimeisnow@gmail.com.


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