Hollywood’s Voight, Silverman Wade Into Israel Vote With Appeals

Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight and American-Jewish comedian Sarah Silverman have weighed in on the Israeli election with appeals to support candidates on opposing ends of the political spectrum.

Voight, a long-time conservative activist and critic of President Barack Obama, released a Web clip urging Israeli voters to return Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to office for a fourth term in Tuesday’s parliamentary election. The “Midnight Cowboy” star has frequently commented on Israeli affairs, an interest he has credited in part to his close association with the Chabad hasidic movement in the U.S.

Obama doesn’t want Netanyahu to win because “his whole agenda is to control Israel, and in this way he can be friends with all of Israel’s enemies,” Voight, the father of actress Angelina Jolie, says in the video. He attacks Netanyahu’s main rival, Isaac Herzog, as being among those “who believe that dealmaking is the solution to what Israel faces,” making him “as wrong as Neville Chamberlain believing he made a peace deal with Hitler.”

While most polls show Herzog’s Zionist Union party leading Netanyahu’s Likud by three or four parliamentary seats, both fall far short of the majority needed to form a new government, and the prime minister appears better positioned to garner support from other factions needed for a ruling coalition.

Silverman has tweeted her support for the Meretz party, a faction that strongly supports Palestinian statehood and is backing Herzog for the premiership. Polls have Meretz hovering slightly above the minimum electoral threshold of four seats, raising the possibility it might be blocked out of parliament for the first time.

“ISRAEL! If you are a Meretz supporter you NEED to VOTE MARCH 17. Every vote counts. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain,” Silverman tweeted last week.

The comic has a personal connection to the party through her sister Susan Silverman, a Jerusalem Reform rabbi and social activist who is in the 20th slot on the Meretz ticket. She has previously made political appeals aimed at the U.S. electorate, including comic videos in which she exhorted Florida’s elderly Jewish voters to “schlep out” and support Obama in his two presidential runs.

“She’s been called a self-hating Jew for speaking out, but my sister believes we are all made in God’s image and must pursue justice and peace,” Susan Silverman said.

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