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Moving Rightward Campaign, Ignoring Polls, Gains Steam

With only 11 days before the national election, with Kadima still leading but with over 20% of the voters still undecided, the "Moving Rightward" campaign is gaining steam and intensity.

By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 3/17/2006, 10:42 AM / Last Update: 3/17/2006, 10:56 AM

Thousands of people are taking active part in the campaign, the idea of which is simple: To convince Kadima voters - many of whom voted in the past for right-wing parties - to vote once again for a religious and/or right-wing party.

The method is also straightforward: Hundreds of pairs of volunteers go door-to-door every evening, mainly in the greater Tel Aviv area, to speak with potential voters. Others stay at home and make phone calls to people in areas that voted heavily for the Likud in the last election.

Many of the callers and visitors report success. "One man whom I called told me he was planning not to vote on Election Day but rather to make a barbecue," a Beit El man said. "After a short talk, the man said, 'OK, you're right. For the sake of the Gush Katif expellees, I will vote for a right-wing party - and I'll bring my wife along as well.'"

In another case, a 17-year-old girl found herself on the phone with a soldier who said he had taken part in the expulsion from Gush Katif. By the end of the conversation, he admitted he had been wrong, and even - with the help of a follow-up call later by the girl's rabbi - agreed to hold a parlor meeting on behalf of the National Union/NRP in his home.

"I don't talk to them about the dangers I foresee to my own house and community if Kadima wins," said one Face-to-Facer, "but rather about the country, about themselves. Most of the population lives between Hadera and Gedera, the area known as the Coastal Plain, and I want them to think about what it will be like when this entire area will be adjacent to the Palestinian Authority and at its mercies, just like now in Ashkelon and Sderot. I feel that I'm on a mission to clarify to them what Kadima and the left will bring them."

A bulletin board in one of the larger Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria featured this message:
"You certainly are not threatened by any of the parties in this election. There is no chance that you will find yourself several months from now with your life's work destroyed and your family living out of cartons and suitcases in a glittering-gold refugee camp. There are no parties 'promising' that it won't happen to you. So you certainly don't have to make any special efforts for this election campaign. So you can go back to sleep now..."

One woman reported at 10:20 one evening this week,
"So many people I call simply don't know who to vote for. They say that they and their families just don't know what to do. I spoke to about four people for about ten minutes each, and I felt that they received, for the first time, a reason to really consider voting for one of the parties on the religious-right..."

Yaakov Sternberg, one of the national organizers of the campaign, told Arutz-7, "Every evening we have 1,000 people calling, and over 1,000 going out to visit - and the numbers are rising." He said, "I overheard one conversation in which the person on the other end at first said he was planning to vote for Labor, but by the end of the conversation said that he would vote either Likud or Shas..."

Eli Alali, organizing the campaign in his area on behalf of the Karnei Shomron Yeshiva, said,
"Most of those who say they are voting for Kadima, are doing so because 'everyone else is.' The number of those who are voting Kadima out of ideology is very small. Most don't know what the party stands for. When we talked with Sephardim about Kadima's platform on Judaism, for instance, they immediately either changed their minds or said they would consider voting for another party. With other people, just talking about the ramifications of the disengagement was enough to get them to change their minds about voting for Kadima. Many Kadima voters are simply people who are in despair."