The Jew who left the USA but still wants to be president

By Jennifer Lipman, August 15, 2011
Joseph Friedlander

Joseph Friedlander

An American man living in the West Bank has mounted a rather unlikely bid for the US presidency.

Joseph Friedlander, 51, said he was motivated to enter the race in order to help "prevent the collapse of the greatest country the world has ever seen".

Although the Orthodox Jew left his hometown of Chicago in 2000 to live "about a kilometre away from the ruins of the capital of the ancient Northern Kingdom of Israel", he said he believed it was his duty as "a patriotic citizen" to enter the race.

He admitted he would be unlikely to receive enough support to get his name on any state's ballot for the November 2012 election, but said he would consider running under the banner of either main party.

"I'd very much like to become a nominee of a major party but obviously there's extreme competition," he said.

He said his political views were not represented by either the Democrats or the Republicans, but added: "I would like to bring a given party over to my views."

Those political views included changing the law on patents, restoring America's financial security and putting an end to "looting" on Wall Street. He has even developed a "Friedlander plan" for the economy.

Mr Friedlander, who does not work because he is disabled, was heavily critical of Barack Obama but more than happy to borrow the president's campaign tools. "I want to promote my campaign primarily through social media," he said.

"With the technology of today, there is no reason to spend billions," he said. "That means there is a real chance of a campaign of national liberation from the networks of lobbies and rent-seekers who have a lock on the American political scene."

He cited a range of politicians and thinkers as his role-models, and said he was inspired by 19th century commander in chief Benjamin Harrison "for being the last President till me with a full beard."

He is not the first unusual Jewish candidate to enter the next presidential race. Fred Karger, a gay Jewish Republican, is hoping to secure the Grand Old Party's nomination.

Last updated: 3:47pm, August 15 2011