Israeli Candidates Vie for the (Gasp!) American Vote

Explicit Appeals to Ex-Pats of All Stripes as Election Nears

Vote For Me: Labor’s Shelley Yachimovich campaigns in Israel’s election. Candidates from both sides of the political spectrum are making explicit appeals for the votes of American expatriates.
getty images
Vote For Me: Labor’s Shelley Yachimovich campaigns in Israel’s election. Candidates from both sides of the political spectrum are making explicit appeals for the votes of American expatriates.

By JTA

Published January 08, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

The debate moderator asked the candidates what their parties would do to prevent a third intifada, an increasingly common concern in the Israeli election campaign. In his answer, Jeremy Gimpel drew from his upbringing – in Atlanta, Ga.

“I’m from America,” Gimpel said in English. “We don’t talk to terrorists. In America, we eliminate terrorists.”

Soon after Gimpel had finished, New Jersey native Alon Tal shot back.

“There are graves in the Wild West that say, ‘Here lies John Smith, who exercised all his rights,’ ” Tal said, also in English. “Do we want to find a pragmatic solution or do we want to be self-righteous?”

Tal is a candidate for the center-left Hatnua party, while Gimpel is running with the hard-right Jewish Home faction. They are two of a handful of American-born candidates at the forefront of an intensive push to win over English-speaking voters in advance of Israel’s Jan. 22 elections.

While English-language campaigns aren’t new in Israel, candidates and observers say this year’s effort feels larger and more sophisticated than those of elections past.

American-born candidates such as Gimpel, Tal and Dov Lipman of the centrist Yesh Atid are hosting parlor meetings in American homes. Party leaders like Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid and Jewish Home’s Naftali Bennett have addressed large crowds in English. The Jerusalem Post has sponsored four English debates in Anglo-heavy population centers. Some parties have English bumper stickers and fliers.

“The English-speaking community is finally stepping up to the plate, as we become more comfortable and understanding of the system,” said David London, executive director of the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel, which co-sponsored The Jerusalem Post debates.

London noted that like American Jews, Anglo Israelis are just a small fraction of the population – estimates are between 3 and 4 percent – but they tend to be more financially successful than the average Israeli. Some 300,000 native English speakers live in Israel, the majority of them American, according to AACI.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • Pierre Dulaine wants to do in his hometown of Jaffa what he did for kids in Manhattan: teach them to dance.
  • "The first time I met Mick Jagger, I said, 'Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.'” Jewish music journalist Lisa Robinson remembers the glory days of rock in her new book, "There Goes Gravity."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.