The New Right would have avoided its stunning loss in last week’s election and entered the Knesset had the party given a higher slot on its slate to its only native English-speaking candidate, journalist Caroline Glick, according to a party official who was in charge of New Right’s outreach to English speakers.
“I believe that if Caroline had been in the top four we would have prevented enough of the votes that bled to the Likud for us to pass the electoral threshold,” Jeremy Saltan, head of the New Right Anglo branch, told The Times of Israel on Wednesday, referring to right-wing columnist and fellow party candidate Glick, who was placed 6th on the party’s electoral slate.
“Already during the campaign Anglos told me they would have voted for us if we put her higher,” he claimed.
Despite early predictions that it could receive up to 10 Knesset seats, support for the New Right crumbled in the final days of the campaign and it failed to pass the 3.25 percent electoral threshold in order to enter the 120-member Knesset.
US-born Glick, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post, writer for US far-right outlet Breitbart News and senior fellow of the US-based Center for Security Policy, was the first fresh candidate to join the New Right’s slate after leaders Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked announced its formation in late December.
Announcing her Knesset candidacy, Bennett highlighted Glick’s background as an immigrant from the US, saying it “symbolizes the essence of Zionism and the connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.”
Saltan said the party should have emphasized that it was the only party with a US-born candidate featured prominently on its slate and campaign.
“Caroline drew more people for her events in English than any of the other candidates did in Hebrew, with the exception of Naftali and Ayelet,” he said. Several New Right sources told The Times of Israel that the strength of the crowds Glick brought in prevented her from being sidelined from the campaign, a move some in the party had sought.
Israelis who immigrated from English-speaking countries are seldom represented in the Knesset. The only US-born Knesset members in the outgoing 21st Knesset were renowned historian and former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren (Kulanu) and Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick (no relation) of the Likud party.
According to Saltan, the Anglo vote was a key component of the New Right’s support base and Glick was a big draw for many English-speaking voters.
“The most successful of New Right’s campaigns was the Anglo campaign. We provided a home for many voters who felt that beforehand they had no political home that truly represented them,” Saltan said.
“Anglos turned out to be one of the largest bases for the party and we received high numbers in polling stations with a high concentration of Anglos,” he added, citing the party’s first-place finish in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, which has around 40% English speakers, and third-place finishes in Modiin, Ra’anana and Ginot Shomron, all cities with relatively high populations of Anglos.
While making up only 2.9% of the electorate, the approximately 170,000 eligible voters of the English-speaking Anglo community are an underestimate source of votes and support, potentially representing around four Knesset seats in total.
Throughout the campaign, parties made varied efforts to reach out to this base.
New Right, for example, says it held 49 English events in the last 60 days of the campaign, with its candidates speaking to an estimated 5,000 potential voters. The party “set the new benchmark in terms of how an English speaking campaign in Israel is supposed to look like,” Saltan said.
Other parties have also touted their efforts to target this population.
Blue and White, which received 35 Knesset seats, equal to Likud, “ran the largest and most well-organized English language outreach campaign of any political party,” spokesperson Yair Zivan told The Times of Israel, citing English parlor meetings in all major cities across the country, English-language training sessions for volunteers and the rare decision to fully translate the entire party platform into English.
“Blue and White saw itself as the natural home for English speakers because we spoke directly to the issues they care about most and did it in a way that was easy and accessible for them,” said Michal Slawny Cababia, head of the Blue and White English speakers branch. “English speakers have always played an important part in Israeli politics, we’ve built a strong foundation and we intend to keep developing it in the years to come.”
Others, such as the Labor Party, appeared to largely ignore the Anglo population altogether, potentially to their own detriment.
Ahead of the 2015 national election, the venerable center-left faction that dominated Israeli politics made considerable efforts to reach Anglos, with then-Knesset candidate Eytan Schwartz leading the outreach campaign. This time, with Schwartz now the CEO of Tel Aviv Global, Labor had no one running such efforts. With the exception of leader Avi Gabbay’s attendance at an event co-hosted by The Times of Israel, the party failed to send Knesset candidates to any of the nine English election panels held during the campaign.
Labor ended up with just six Knesset seats, the worst result in its history.