Gaydamak wants votes, but hopes Likud wins

Social Justice Party founder presents Knesset list at Jerusalem event.

Arkadi Gaydamak 88 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Arkadi Gaydamak 88 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Social Justice Party founder Arkadi Gaydamak presented candidates that will be on his Knesset list in the founding rally of the party on Thursday night at Jerusalem's Ramada Renaissance Hotel. The best-known candidate Gaydamak presented was Israeli Handicapped Organization head Shlomo "Momo" Elnekaveh, who has led many high-profile demonstrations against the government. Other candidates will include Ashkelon City Council member Sofa Beilin and Dr. Shlomo Tzadok, a Haifa University-trained political sociologist who made headlines when he proposed Gaydamak for the Israel Prize in September. "We will do everything possible to make sure the Social Justice Party will enter the Knesset," said Elnekaveh, who supported Labor's Amir Peretz in the last election. "From this room justice will come and we won't stop until this party will be in the Knesset." When The Jerusalem Post asked Gaydamak how many mandates he would receive, he said: "We're not running for a quantity of seats, because we're not professional politicians. Maybe the feeling that we're new and unknown could make people vote for us. It's very probable that we'll be a major political group in the next parliament." Denying reports in the Russian press this week that he might support new Labor chairman Ehud Barak, Gaydamak said that Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu was the best candidate for prime minister. He said that although he wanted people to vote for his party, he wanted Likud to win the election, because he did not consider himself qualified to be foreign minister or defense minister. Gaydamak reacted angrily to questions about an indictment expected to be issued against him in France on Friday. The indictment accuses him of buying inexpensive weapons in Eastern Europe and selling them at high prices to warring factions in Africa. He called the indictment "shameful chutzpah" and accused the French justice system of "political persecution" against him. Thursday's event was attended by more than 200 people from across the country, most of whom were native Russian speakers. Galina Violinchuk from Ashkelon said she came to the event, because "I love Gaydamak and I want him to help the Russians." Yael Barchash of Tel Aviv said she admired Gaydamak "because of his deep feelings for the Jewish people." But Dror Shemesh, a historian from Jerusalem, said he had come to hear about social justice, but left disappointed. He said the event was merely a show of "kissing up to Gaydamak." "A lot of people signed up for the party ahead of the event but canceled their membership afterward because of their disappointment," he said.