A former Obama campaign strategist is working in Israel as an adviser to a group determined to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the upcoming Israeli elections.
Jeremy Bird is one of four U.S. consultants helping the Tel Aviv-based Victory 2015, or V15, adopt American campaign methodologies like those that won President Barack Obama the White House in 2008 and 2012.
V15 says it backs no particular party but wants to “simply replace the government,” especially Netanyahu.
Bird served as the Obama campaign's national field director in 2012 and is one of the founders of 270 Strategies, which combines grassroots organizing with online engagement and digital know-how for campaigns. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz described Bird as V15's “secret campaign weapon.”
Haaretz reported that V15 is partnered with and funded by an organization called OneVoice, which describes itself as a “grassroots movement” to promote a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the 1967 borders.
[Bird] says the mess in the OneVoice office — many empty cartons from newly purchased equipment — reminds him of Obama headquarters, he says: lots of energy and lot of talent.
V15 plans to recruit tens of thousands of volunteers to campaign door-to-door, covering between 150,000 to 1 million homes. The population of Israel is 8 million.
Bird told Haaretz that Israel is ideal for door-to-door campaigning due to the small size of the country. Because of the large number of political parties and high voter turnout, he believes it’s possible to talk with enough people to change the government.
Nimrod Dweck, one of the organizers of V15, said Bird has helped them channel the large response they have received amid dissatisfaction with Netanyahu.
“The response is great because there is great disgust,” Dweck told Haaretz. “Almost 2,000 people offered to volunteer. We will go to homes and we will win. Bird’s team helps direct the wave of enthusiasm so it doesn’t turn into loud noise that disappears but rather into a wave of change. The work with the research team that Bird brought has really ignited sparks."
Netanyahu, who is up for re-election on March 17, has a famously bitter relationship with Obama, which most recently came to a boil last week when the White House said it would not host the Israeli leader for a meeting when speaks to a joint session of Congress in early March. The White House said there would be no meeting because it does not want to be seen as influencing the Israeli election.
Despite his own activities in Israel, Bird last week took to Twitter to disparage billionaire Republican donor and Netanyahu supporter Sheldon Adelson for trying to sway Israeli voters.
What do you think Adelson promised GOP in exchange for this insane BiBi House visit? Blatant attempt to bolster Israeli PM before elections— Jeremy Bird (@jeremybird) January 22, 2015