Anglo coalition calls for elections

The new American Israeli Action Coalition hopes to represent 250,000 US olim and influence politics.

US olim 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
US olim 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
It has only been in existence since the beginning of 2008, but the American Israeli Action Coalition (AIAC) has high hopes to influence political conditions on both sides of the Atlantic. The nascent organization - described by founders as a coalition of various groups - called this week "for prompt new elections in Israel and the formation of an interim government of national unity until a new administration is elected and formed." The Israel-based coalition says that it hopes to represent the 250,000 expatriate American citizens now living in Israel. "It appeared to me and to a number of other people I've spoken to that Anglos, and particularly Americans, have always felt a bit underrepresented here. And so the coalition will be made up of a number of constituent organizations is to form something of a bloc to represent what we believe are the most prevalent positions that Americans living in Israel would take," explained founding member Jeff Daube, the director of the Israel office of the Zionist Organization of America. AIAC's statement of principles includes "furthering the continued development of democracy and democratic ideals in the State of Israel;" "cultivating the unity of all members of the Jewish faith in Israel;" "securing the recognition of a united and undivided Jerusalem as the current and enternal capital of the state of Israel;" "promoting efforts for a true, effective and final peace between the Sate of Israel and the neighboring states based on safety and security;" and "furthering the non-discriminatory application of human and civil rights in the State of Israel to all members of her citizens." Thus far, the group has held one significant protest - across the street from US presidential candidate Barak Obama's Jerusalem room in the King David Hotel. That protest, which members said they were satisfied attracted attention, called on Obama to stop what Daube called Obama's "flip-flopping" on the subject of Jerusalem as a divided or undivided city. The group is now working to organize an event involving representatives of both Obama's and John McCain's campaigns to help local US absentee ballot voters get to know the candidates and their positions on key subjects involving Israel. In the mean time, the group has turned its sights on the Israeli political system, with Harvey Schwartz, the AIAC's chairman, complaining that "the current method for selecting Ehud Olmert's successor is not democratic in nature. With no more than 70,000 members (many of whom recently joined), Kadima represents less than 1 percent of the entire Israeli population. It is inconceivable that the next prime minister of Israel will be selected by such a miniscule percentage of the entire populace." Instead, AIAC proposed that Israel move to hold prompt national elections and, in the interim, all major parties join in a government of national unity, to deal solely with the day-to-day issues of governing the country until a new government is formed. Daube describes the organization as "non-political - we are non-partisan, or bi-partisan in American terms," noting that supporting a party would jeopardize its US 501-C-3 tax status as a non-profit charitable organization. Nevertheless, among the organization's founders, there is a distinct lean toward the Right. Founders include former Efrat Council member and Israel National Radio broadcaster Eve Harow, former Rabbinical Council of America President Rabbi Moshe Gorelik, former executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America Rabbi Binyamin Walfish and former Jerusalem municipal civil engineer Moshe Loshinsky.