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Election Campaign off to Vigorous Start in Israel; Voting Due August 15

With the Knesset (Parliament) adjourned, and general elections scheduled for August 15, Israel’s political parties opened their election campaign this weekend, although most parties have not yet announced their lists of candidates. Virtually every settlement, town and village in the country held election rallies on Friday night and yesterday, while tonight every auditorium and many makeshift gathering places in every city in Israel was the scene of one rally or another.

The only party that has its election list ready is the Communist, which has announced exactly the same candidates it ran in the previous national elections. Mapai, Herut, Ahdut Avodah and Mapam are completing their lists. The newly formed Liberal Party is making up a list representing both major components of that group, the former General Zionists and Progressives. The religious groups have not yet decided on a list, and it is believed that efforts to unite the various religious parties on one ticket may not materialize. Five groups of small community parties, composed mainly of Sephardi and Yemenite Israelis, are negotiating in an effort to compose a single list. None of these groups was able to garner enough votes for any seats in the last Knesset.

The usual election campaign fireworks were already creating considerable excitement today. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, as leader of the dominant Mapai Party, was being accused at some of the rallies of having undertaken his recent trip to the West for “Mapai political propaganda” purposes. Mr. Ben-Gurion, on the other hand, told a closed meeting of poets and other writers that he found foreigners “see more light in Israel, while our own press and writings see only the black side. “

Every facet of recent Israeli history is being dragged into the campaign–including the Eichmann trial and “L’affaire Lavon,” So far, only one incident has marred the campaign. At Amishav, a village inhabited by new immigrants, a meeting scheduled by Mapai had to be called off when youngsters smashed the speaker’s platform and threatened the Mapai speaker.

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