Friday, January 4, 2013

‘Likes’ and Retweets’ Serves Knesset Parties as Tool to Target Anglo Vote

In an election that every vote counts, the major political parties are reaching out to English-speaking voters through the Internet and social media, hoping to translate Facebook "likes" into votes at the polls on January 22. 

The sole exception is the Labor Party, which so far has no English section on its website and no English-language Facebook presence, Haaretz notes.  Yisrael Beiteinu's English-language Facebook page garnered nearly 4,500 likes as of Thursday; Yesh Atid's English page has 644 likes. Likud Anglos, which has 516 likes, is no longer affiliated with the campaign, said executive director Daniel Tauber.

Naftali Bennett, chairman of Habayit Hayehudi and the son of American immigrants, maintains a personal Facebook page in English with over 3,350 likes. Rabbi Dov Lipman, who holds the 14th spot on Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid list, posts in English and Hebrew on his personal page, which has over 2,100 likes.

"I interact with people throughout the day using my Blackberry," Lipman told Haaretz, noting that he has engaged in heated discussions about his party's positions on national service and the peace process. "I think it's a good part of the electoral process.
The most active Twitter account in English among the major parties belongs to Yisrael Beiteinu (@BeytenuEnglish) and has 703 followers. Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid is an Instagram user, having posted over 160 photos from the campaign trail.

Its important to note that this Blog the Bibi Report has served as a voice for the Likud in the previous 2009 elections, as we were linked on Netanyahu's personal site, and communicated with the Likud campaign on strategy and PR. 

While Likud has only started to post in English since 2009, Yisrael Beiteinu has maintained a detailed English site for seven years. “Some of the other English-language websites are basically a few lines about some vague promises, but that's not really engagement, that's just superficial electioneering," the party's deputy director of communications, London native Ashley Perry said.

Likud ministers, Gidon Saar and Gilad Erdan, as Danny Danon and Tzipi Hotovely have engaged with American speaking audiences in English during their overseas trips, mainly organized by American friends of Likud in NYC. 

Habayit Hayehudi has a staff of four paid employees who specifically target English-speaking voters in person and online, says Jeremy Saltan, the party's English-speaking campaign manager. Still, Saltan says, English-speaking voters don't want to be seen as one bloc, "but as normal, thinking Israelis."

There are 250,000 Anglo voters in Israel, a number hard to ignore, and easy to target.