U.S. Republican Party activists in Israel have in recent days begun enlisting large numbers of non-American volunteers in the campaign to elect Donald Trump president of the United States. These volunteers have been encouraged to reach out to all their acquaintances in Israel who hold American citizenship and urge them to cast their ballot for the Republican candidate.
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In a statement issued on Monday, the Trump campaign team in Israel claimed that “thousands” of Israelis had in the past three days paid a fee of 33 shekels ($8.75) in order to register as “Friends of the Republican Party in Israel.” In addition to volunteering for the campaign, these new “honorary” members of the Republican Party in Israel will be invited to official campaign events as well as meetings with VIPs from the United States, the statement said.
This latest announcement from the local campaign team appears to be aimed at Jewish-American voters who are wary of Trump.
According to Tzvika Brot, director of the Trump campaign in Israel, “about 70 percent” of the non-American volunteers who have signed up in recent days identify with the right-wing parties in Israel.
“There are many right-wing organizations that are now cooperating with us in the campaign,” he told Haaretz. He stressed, however, that they included “none of the crazy ones.”
Although the Trump campaign in Israel has no official ties to local politicians or political parties, Brot said that “party activists” from Likud and Habayit Hayehudi – both right-wing in orientation – have been reaching out to Israelis they know who hold American citizenship and strongly encouraging them to register so that they can vote for Trump. These efforts have picked up steam in recent days because the deadline for absentee ballot registration is only a few weeks away.
In its statement, the local Trump team said this was the first time a U.S. presidential campaign in Israel had actively enlisted non-Americans in its efforts. The decision to include them, it said, came in response to “numerous requests from Israelis who are not American citizens who contacted us asking how they could help out.”
According to the statement, the ultimate goal is to recruit “tens of thousands” of non-Americans in Israel to the campaign. According to iVoteIsrael, a non-partisan organization that encourages Israelis with dual citizenship to vote, about 200,000 residents of Israel are eligible to vote in the upcoming election.
Although the overwhelming majority of the new honorary Republicans in Israel identify with the right, Brot said he was surprised that the largest donation received from any of the recent recruits came from a Bedouin in Rahat, one of the country’s poorest towns. “Still, we’re only talking about a thousand shekels,” he said.
The Trump campaign has focused considerable effort on Israeli-American voters, out of a belief that a majority lean toward the Republican Party. The campaign recently opened an office in the West Bank settlement of Karnei Shomron. All the key members of the Trump campaign team in Israel have ties to right-wing parties in Israel.