Thursday, December 27, 2012

Jeremy Gimpel (Bayit Yehudi) Hopes to Chair Knesset Diaspora Committee

Will Israelis send their first American Immigrant to the Knesset since Meir Kahana? Naftali Bennett is not the only rising star in Israeli politics, emerging as an unexpected threat to Netanyahu’s vision of a strong and large Likud party, You may have heard of him or not, but Jeremy Gimpel might end up in the next Knesset, thanks to another well spoken English politician, non-other than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

The outgoing 18th Knesset had two members who could count as Anglos. Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (UTJ), who was born to Polish Holocaust survivors in Germany, moved with his family to Brooklyn when he was two years old and came to Israel at age 17, and Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner moved to Israel from London with his family when he was just a few months old. 

Naftalli Bennett, although holding an American passport, was born in Haifa to parents who had immigrated to Israel from San Francisco in 1967. 

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Jeremy Gimpel, moved to Israel with his family in 1991 at the age of 12, and served as a platoon sergeant in the Givati Brigade, Gimpel went to high school in Efrat, earned degrees in law and business at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center and studied for his rabbinic ordination at the Otniel yeshiva. Gimpel is a reserve officer in the Israel defense Force. He lives with his wife and children in Neveh Daniel in Gush Etzion. 

Gimpel and his partner on the popular “Tuesday Night Live” TV show, Ari Abramowitz launched a joint campaign fir the Knesset, running as a joint ticket in the Bayit Yehudi primaries, registering 3000 people, including many English-speaking citizens to the party in hopes that at least one of them would get a realistic spot on the party’s Knesset list. Gimpel fell short in his bid, coming in only number 9 in the Bayit Yehudi primaries, pushed further down to the 14th place in the joint list with the National Union. 

Until recently, Gimpel’s hope of seeing the Knesset from inside the plenum was a far-reaching dream that many have had, but according to the latest public opinion polls, Gimpel’s chances to enter the Knesset as the first American Born, or as a matter of fact the only Anglo Knesset member, is a greater possibility than Livni becoming Israel’s next Foreign Minister. 

According to a new poll conducted Wednesday for Walla by TNS Teleseker. If elections were held today, The Jewish Home would receive 15 projected seats, while Likud Beitenu would drop to 35 seats (from its current 42). In other words, Likud’s attacks and the rebukes by the left, right and center, have only benefited Bennett in the polls, boosting his name recognition, and ultimately giving Gimpel some hope of becoming a voice for the Anglo community in the next Knesset. 

"Two polls in the last week (15 and 16) prove that my spot at #14 is very realistic," Gimpel wrote supporters last weekend. "It looks like I have a very good chance at becoming the first American born MK in decades." 

Gimpel was tapped to head the Jewish Home Party’s English-Speakers election, with Jeremy Sultan, known as Knesset Jeremy, as his campaign manager. In a lengthy interview for BibiFeed, Jeremy Gimpel committed himself to represent the Anglo citizens, and revitalize Israel’s weak Hasbarah by serving as a voice of sanity, in successfully explaining the message of Israel to Americans abroad, strengthening by that the US-Israel alliance. 

“Today, in the ministry of diplomacy and public affairs, the CEO of the Ministry doesn’t speak English. Since the Minister is Russian [Yuli Edelstein-Likud], he appointed one of his own,” Gimpel pointed out. “How can he relate and communicate to a Western audience? There’s an absolute need and a void to be filled, and it’d be an honor to fill that” as Chair of the Knesset Committee for Aliya (immigration), Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, he hopes. 

If appointed to the position, his approach he says, would be significantly different than Danny Danon, who might be upgraded and appointed as a Minister in the next government. “I don’t like to see things as Right-Wing and Left-Wing. My message would be a lot more Jewish. The story of the Jewish people, our ancient historic connection to this land and our right to live as a free people in our homeland, is never expressed properly. I Think that is the winning argument,” Gimpel says. 

Where are you different than Moshe Feiglin, or even Netanyahu, who has raised the Jewish connection and our rights to build in Jerusalem over the past four years, I asked. What do you bring to the table as part of the Bayit Yehudi that is not served by the Likud? 

 “There’s no difference on ideology between us and all of the national religious MK’s in the Likud, we see eye to eye on 90% of the issues,” Gimpel responded. “The question is political and a strategic one, what is the best way to bring those ideals into reality. They have taken the approach that it’s better to be a single member inside the Likud, and try to influence the party from within, while we believe that a large party with a clear agenda and clear goal will have far more influence in power than a single member inside another party.” 

“Don’t Waste your vote,” roared Netanyahu on Tuesday. “If you want to strengthen me, vote for my party - Likud Beitenu,” he said. Gimpel and the Bayit Yehudi, of course dismiss that call, saying the Bayit Yehudi as the largest party within the bloc on the right of Netanyahu, will have the ability to keep him on the straighter narrow, while on the contrary, if the religious parties, labor and Livni will be large, if Netanyahu will want to swing left, in broadening his government, the Bayit Yehudi would remain with less power and influence on Netanyahu. “ 

“The question is who is going to be the primary partner in the Netanyahu coalition. Is it going to be a left-center coalition or is it going to be a Right-Wing/Modern coalition,” he added. The momentum in the polls is attributed to the fact that the Bayit Yehudi is “the most exciting party” in this election cycle, Gimpel points out. “Now that people have recognized that we are offering a breath of fresh air, and the fact that we are the youngest party of candidates, most popular among voters under the age of 35, will help us rise in the polls, and momentum will continue to grow.”