It has been 30 years since the Iron Curtain fell and hundreds of thousands of new immigrants from the former Soviet Union began landing at Ben Gurion Airport. Almost as soon as they stepped off the plane, they discovered that they were the hottest political commodity in Israel. Today, in the 2019 election, most of the parties are ignoring this sector. They did not launch major Russian-language campaigns, nor did they try to find new “stars” in this community. Even the Russian-oriented Yisrael Beitenu party, headed by Russian-born Avigdor Liberman, has been weakened significantly, and is now hovering on the voter threshold. Where did the “Russian vote” disappear and why?
As early as the 1992 election, politicians realized that 1 million new immigrants from the former Soviet Union could change the Israeli political map completely. They poured considerable efforts into winning the votes of these new immigrants, offering them all sorts of benefits, events and happenings. They even promised economic miracles. Your mortgage will not be linked to the economic index, the Labor Party promised in 1992. In 1996, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to provide a job for every immigrant in his or her field.