Israeli Vote Could Impact US Election

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- A new poll released Thursday by The Times of Israel revealed that at least 45 percent of Israelis favor Republican candidate Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama.

The poll, conducted by Smith Consulting for Israel Radio, showed that 29 percent support Obama.

Meanwhile, a survey by IVoteIsrael, a nonprofit that helps Israelis with dual citizenship vote by absentee ballot, revealed that 85 percent of Israeli-American voters cast their ballot for Romney, while 14.3 percent voted for Obama.

At a press conference Thursday, IVoteIsrael national director Elie Pieprz said some 80,000 American voters from 49 states voted absentee through the organization, which he called "an unprecedented increase in voter participation from the 20,000 or so who voted in 2008."

According to Pieprz, these voters could potentially impact the swing states of Florida and Ohio, with some 7,500 registered in Florida, 3,500 in Ohio and another 3,500 in Pennsylvania.

Nearly half the respondents of the IVoteIsrael survey identified themselves as national religious, while 22 percent described themselves as ultra-Orthodox.

"This is very consistent with what we are anticipating," Abraham Katsman with Republicans Abroad Israel, said, calling the percentage "slightly higher than we expected."

According to Katsman, the survey "probably reflects a stronger enthusiasm on the part of people who are voting either for Romney or against Obama."

But IVoteIsrael's many detractors in the media claim its connection to Jewish philanthropist Ron Lauder, a Republican who supports Romney, proves it's a partisan organization and therefore in violation of its 501(c)(4) status.

Pieprz rejected the allegations outright, saying IVoteIsrael is a service provider, not a clandestine advocacy group.

"The accusation that we're acting secretly [as Republicans] is problematic and disenfranchising people," Pieprz said, adding that IVoteIsrael is "only partisan for Israel," The Jerusalem Post reported.

Meanwhile, Hillel Schenker, acting chairman of Democrats Abroad Israel, told The Times of Israel the representative voter survey was "very slanted and extremely partial."

Schenker accused IVoteIsrael of setting up its polling stations in areas where "mainly Orthodox Jews" reside, such as the Gush Etzion settlement bloc and Jerusalem.

The Times added that "some of its [IVoteIsrael] key staffers have right-wing political backgrounds and the nonprofit behind the campaign has ties to right-leaning U.S.-Jewish billionaire Ronald Lauder."

Lauder, who also serves as president of the World Jewish Congress, has been criticized from both sides of the political spectrum, not the least for his support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his policies, including the controversial two-state solution.

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Tzippe Barrow

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From her perch high atop the mountains surrounding Jerusalem, Tzippe Barrow helps provide a bird’s eye view of events unfolding in her country.

She and her husband made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) several years ago. Barrow hopes that providing a biblical perspective of today’s events in Israel will help people in the nations to better understand the centrality of this state and the Jewish people to God’s unfolding plan of redemption for all mankind.