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Wife of Peruvian Candidate Finds Her Politics in Her Judaism

May 18, 2000
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The wife of Peru’s opposition candidate for president credits her time at an Israeli university with turning her life around, according to the New York Times.

“In Israel, I learned that you don’t take no for an answer,” the Times quoted Elaine Karp, the wife of candidate Alejandro Toledo, as saying of her time studying indigenous cultures at Hebrew University in Jerusalem in the early 1970s.

Toledo is running an uphill campaign against Alberto Fujimori, the incumbent who is expected to win the May 28 runoff.

But the Belgian-born Karp, with her Israeli experience in mind, is not giving up.

She has taken an active role in the campaign, in part because she speaks the ancient Inca language of Quechua and in part because she wants to take an active role in Peruvian politics.

A naturalized American citizen who has consulted for the World Bank and the U.S. Agency for International Development, she speaks about using Israeli techniques to improve Peruvian agriculture.

Some members of the Peruvian press are critical of her outspoken role in the campaign, but at the same time the media has been fascinated her, printed stories about her father’s involvement in the French Resistance during World War II.

Karp says she has found her political identity in her Jewish roots.

“My vision of Judaism is one of light and justice that is totally impossible to reconcile with dictatorship,” the Times quoted her as saying.

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