A Jerusalem food charity pulled out of a Yisrael Beiteinu campaign event on Wednesday, after it originally agreed to a basket-packing event featuring party officials.
The event, which was promoted days earlier by the party in a press advisory to journalists as the launch of its "English Speakers Election Campaign," took place outside the Givat Shaul warehouse that serves the Yad Ezra V'Shulamit charity.
"It's a whole misunderstanding and a whole mistake and I'm terribly sorry," said Tefilla Buxbaum, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, who serves as the charity's director of resource development. "Our organization is for poor people and we don't support any political party. We are apolitical."
Buxbaum told Anglo File that the organization's volunteer department was contacted "several weeks ago" about a "basket-packing event" that would include the press. She recalled even welcoming the initiative but said she had no idea it was meant as a political event.
"When I arrived at the warehouse and saw all the cameras and the press for the launch of a political campaign, I immediately knew there was a huge misunderstanding," said Buxbaum, who said she received a call from her boss and was forced to withdraw the group's participation in the event shortly before it began. "I was simply not aware of the political intricacies of this. My boss explained to me that by having this event we would be hurting the poor - something we cannot do."
Senior party official and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon had originally been scheduled to help "pack food baskets for the poor" and to invite "English-speaking (Anglos ) Israelis to pack the baskets," according to a media advisory sent earlier in the week by Ashley Perry, the party's deputy director of communications. Ayalon, journalists were told, would "talk about the significance of aliyah [immigration to Israel], the contribution of olim [new immigrants] to society, the importance of the role of citizenship and contribution to Israel and political reform, which will be central issues in the campaign."
At the afternoon event, journalists and about a dozen Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu activists were on hand for a photo op with Ayalon.
"As we all know, there are hundreds of thousands of English-speaking Israelis who are here today really to make their voice heard, and there's no better party than Likud Beiteinu to represent the Anglo vote," Perry declared to the journalists as he introduced Ayalon. There was no mention of Yad Ezra.
Ayalon began his four-and-a-half-minute-long impromptu remarks discussing the merger of the two parties, the importance of equal service in the Israel Defense Forces, and electoral reform. On several occasions he spoke about "Likud Beiteinu," employing the vernacular for the new two-party union.
"Last election, we had to fight very hard for the votes of the English-speaking voters in Israel," said Ayalon. "There are a few hundred thousand of them. I think it would be beneficial for the voters, for us, and essentially for the country, that we go with one voice, with one platform. It is a synergy that will bring many more votes for this joint list of Likud Beiteinu," he said.
Yisrael Beiteinu told Anglo File following the event that "the event was coordinated with employees from Yad Ezra with their full understanding of the nature of the event for over two weeks."