Americans in Israel a Key Group on Election Day

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- U.S. citizens living in Israel are showing major interest in this year's elections with more registering to vote than ever before.

Some political observers believe these voters could potentially influence the race for the White House if it's a close one.

An estimated 150,000 eligible U.S. voters live in Israel. That number may seem insignificant, but candidates target populations like that all the time.

"If you think about it, it's a long plane flight, but it's like traveling to Dayton, Ohio, or Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, similar sized cities," Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told CBN News.

Fleischer and Republican Jewish coalition head Matt Brooks believe Israel is fertile ground.

"We're here because we want to talk to U.S. citizens…We want to get them registered and get them voting," Brooks said.

"There's a huge population of folks living here in Israel who come from the most important battleground states in [the] 2012 [election] -- places like Florida, places like Ohio, places like Pennsylvania," he said.

Fleischer said "150,000 votes can make, in a close election, can make a huge difference in who the next president of the United States will be."

That's why the organizaion IVote Israel is encouraging Americans living in Israel to register.

"IVote Israel is out meeting voters on a daily basis. We go door to door. We meet them at public events. We'll start canvassing in shopping malls," said Eli Pieprz, national director of IVote Israel.

"We hear a multitude of different reasons but certainly one of the undercurrents is a very strong reaction that they have for the current president. …Right now there is a lot of frustration with…the treatment that Israel has felt from the current administration," Pieprz said.

Some Americans live here for jobs, while others hold dual American-Israeli citizenship. Several Americans living here told CBN News why they'll be voting.

"American Jews in Israel should vote because it's a civic duty for Americans, whether they live in Israel or America or Mexico or any place," Dr. Michael Schnek said.

One woman named Toby said she wants "America to be strong -- economically, politically [and] morally."
"One is the support of Israel, especially in light of the threats with Iran. And the second most important issue is I'm very concerned about the economic strength of the United States," Israel resident Richard Corman told CBN News.

The American Jewish Community usually votes more Democratic, but in Israel it's the opposite.

"Well, the American community in Israel is a powerfully pro-defense, pro-strong foreign policy, pro-Israel community," Fleischer said.

"Why else would they be living here? And so they are a natural Republican constituency," he said.

But whichever way they vote, if IVote Israel succeeds, Americans in Israel will play an important role on Election Day.

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CBN News
Julie Stahl and Chris Mitchell

Julie Stahl and Chris Mitchell

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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