Ra’anana Anglos voters lean toward the right

Voters in traditional Anglo stronghold show preference toward Likud Beytenu, Bayit Yehudi.

Bayit Yehudi Bennett & Netanyahu ad 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Bayit Yehudi)
Bayit Yehudi Bennett & Netanyahu ad 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Bayit Yehudi)
In the city often viewed as Israel’s Anglo hub, the olim of Ra’anana casting their votes on Tuesday displayed a significant preference for rightleaning parties.
Walking around the main streets, posters, vans and balloons dedicated to Ra’anana’s resident Knesset candidate, Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett, were most prominent – with signs decorating apartment buildings and recycling bins on nearly every street corner, particularly those in Bennett’s own Ariel neighborhood. Also quite popular throughout the city and in front of polling stations were campaign tables and signs for Likud Beytenu and Shas, with young ultra-Orthodox children distributing materials for the latter party.
While many Ra’anana immigrants declined to share their voting choices with The Jerusalem Post – one woman simply said that “the line was too long” and that she planned on coming back later – others were very forthcoming.
As one of the founders of the organization Likud Anglos and a Likud central committee member, Sonia Graham, 51, told the Post outside the Ariel School that her choice was clear.
“I want to vote with the majority, and I think you need to vote for the bigger party,” said Graham, who has been in Israel for 17 years and is originally from England. She has been involved in Ra’anana’s Anglo politics for many years. Graham said that most members of this community – particularly those of American origin – tend to vote for right-wing parties.
While Bennett has attracted a large number of immigrant votes in the city, especially within the national-religious community, Graham said it was crucial “to vote for the bigger parties.”
Former New Yorker Martin Becker echoed Graham’s sentiments, stressing that he had voted for Likud Beytenu “because I feel that we need one central, strong body rather than a fragmentation of all the parties.”
Click for full JPost coverageClick for full JPost coverage
Originally from Staten Island, the 82-year-old Becker has lived in Ra’anana for 16 years, and both he and his wife said that most of their friends were voting the same way – but that Bennett had incurred a sharp rise in popularity due to his Ra’anana residence.
A couple from London, in Israel for three years, were likewise voting for Likud Beytenu, or “for Bibi,” as they put it.
Jack and Miriam Nusbacher, both 74 and here from New York for 24 years, also voted for Likud Beytenu.
“I’m afraid [Binyamin Netanyahu is] not going to do well, and I think he should be prime minister,” Jack Nusbacher said. “The people with Bennett are a little off the wall for me. I wish Bennett was Likud.”
A young couple from New Jersey were a bit less decisive, telling the Post that “up to the last minute we’re deciding.”
“I think the chances are, one of us is Bayit Yehudi and one of us is Likud,” the husband said.
Others were frustrated with Netanyahu’s willingness to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority and felt that a tougher stance against the country’s Arab neighbors was crucial.
Willie Malkinson, 78, told the Post he had voted for Bennett “because I can’t see any future in wasting so much time negotiating with people who don’t want to negotiate with us.” Even if PA President Mahmoud Abbas wanted to proceed with negotiations, he would not be able to achieve an agreement without the support of terrorists, according to Malkinson, who came to Israel from Ireland 30 years ago.
“Gaza [in 2005] was a good example of giving away land,” he said, noting that such a gesture could not work.
Debbie Grysman, 27, told the Post that she, too, was voting for Bayit Yehudi.
“I have the same ideology,” said Grysman, who came here nine years ago from Mexico.
“They’re right-wing, they’re religious. They care about Israel and not giving everything to the Arabs. They’re the most similar to me both politically and religiously.”
While the overwhelming majority of Ra’anana Anglos with whom the Post spoke on Tuesday appeared to be right-leaning, others were more centrist.
Shira, 64, from New York, and her Israeli-born daughter entered the Ariel School still unsure exactly for whom they were voting, but pretty sure they would both choose Yesh Atid simply because Yair Lapid represented to them the “least of all evils.”
Another former New Yorker, 47-year-old Daniel Mann, also said he was choosing Yesh Atid, somewhat due to a “process of elimination.”
“I think Bennett is way too extreme in political views and the hostility he had against the cease-fire [reached with Hamas in the Gaza Strip in November] was not responsible, whether it was right or wrong,” Mann, who has been in Israel for five years, told the Post. “I think they’re too extreme.”
He decided not to go with Labor because he was afraid of what the party could do to the economy, while he called Tzipi Livni “scary,” saying that “she attacks everybody.”
“So I was looking for somebody who in a coalition could potentially shift the Right a little more toward the Center,” Mann said.