Netanyahu, Reagan strategist Finkelstein dies at 72

Finkelstein was a “rock star” in Israel. “Every Israeli knew who he was.”

Political strategist Arthur Finkelstein, who worked for the Likud in several elections, as well as US Republican presidential candidates, died of lung cancer Friday at age 72.

He is survived by his husband, whom he married in 2005, and their two daughters.

A Jewish American born in New York in 1945, Finkelstein came to prominence in the 1970s, helping turn Ronald Reagan into a nationally known politician in the 1976 Republican primary, and continued to help conservative politicians get elected first in the US, and later internationally. He worked with US presidents Richard Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. Bush, as well as with many Republican congressional and gubernatorial candidates.

Finkelstein was known for developing biting attack ads, a talent he used to help win Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the premiership for the first time in 1996. He is credited with coining the winning slogan “Peres will divide Jerusalem,” referring to then-prime minister Shimon Peres, after analyzing polling data and finding that Israelis would reject a deal with the Palestinians that would require the capital’s division.

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