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In a "Person of the Year" survey conducted by Dr. Alex Feldman of the Mutagim Institute among immigrants from the FSU, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was chosen by the majority as the person they felt had "had the most positive effect on the State of Israel" in 2001.

In an open question presented to participants in the poll, 60 percent said Sharon was the person who had had the most positive influence. Lagging very far behind was Minister Avigdor Lieberman (who was chosen by the immigrants as last year's Person of the Year), with 13 percent. Minister Natan Sharansky got 8 percent as did Benjamin Netanyahu.

But the big surprise was in the second question, in which the participants were asked in an open question to chose the person who had had the most negative effect on life in Israel in 2001. In a year of internal and international terror, 50 percent of those asked chose Shimon Peres as the person who had the most negative influence on Israeli life, far ahead of Arafat who was chosen by 32 percent. The third person on this list was former prime minister Ehud Barak.

Feldman, a scholar of public opinion among the Russian community explains the choice of Peres, even ahead of Arafat, by the fact that the Russian immigrants consider Peres "to blame for the whole situation." In their eyes, he is Arafat's Jewish ally, a collaborator in fact," says Feldman. "Arafat is perceived as someone harmful to Israel from without, someone remote, like bin Laden. Peres, on the other hand, is harming Israel from within."