Ethiopian oleh seeks slot in Likud as young candidate

Yavarkan believes that Obama's victory has taken the color issue off the table.

Gadi Yavarkan 248 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Gadi Yavarkan 248 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Likud's presentation of its MK hopefuls continued last week with the introduction of 27-year-old Gadi Yavarkan, who is originally from Ethiopia but is competing for the young candidate's slot (No. 35), rather than for an immigrant slot (21 or 30). "The Likud is the natural home of the Ethiopian community in Israel, which remains loyal to the party whose leaders made it possible for Ethiopian Jews to make aliya," said Yavarkan, a former IDF officer who is soon to complete his law studies. Speaking at a press conference with Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, he said the Likud "is the only party that can lead Israel to a better future." Yavarkan, who made aliya with Operation Solomon in 1991, believes that last month's victory of US President-elect Barack Obama has taken the color issue off the table, allowing for a focus on ideological discussions. He believes he can be a catalyst for change. "I have decided not to run for the immigrant's slot, because I believe the Ethiopian community should fight for things that concern it, irrespective of the fact that they immigrated to Israel," he said. Five years ago, Yavarkan published a book of poetry called Starting from the Start , in which he depicted his mental and social journey from Ethiopia to Israel. He believes that Likud voters will deem him worthy of their support. "I am familiar with the field, and as a young candidate I can attract both the young voters and the Ethiopian [voters]," he said, describing what he sees as his advantage over the other young candidates. "Nothing was promised me," he insisted. "I am a marathon-runner, and I joined Likud out of the desire to make a change, not to make a career as a politician." Yavarkan, the youngest of 17 siblings, added that his making aliya as a child meant that his biggest dream had already come true. "Now everything I do is a bonus," he said.