Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.
WASHINGTON – To some conservative Jews, Texas Gov. Rick Perry would make an excellent presidential candidate. He’s been to Israel more than any other candidate in the field and has said he loves it. And Perry creates jobs.
But other Jewish conservatives seeking the anti-Obama candidate look at the three-term governor and see something arresting: He believes he’s on a mission from God.
Perry has nonplussed longtime Jewish supporters by claiming he has been “called” to the presidency and by hosting a prayer rally this month that appealed to Jesus to save America.
Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post’s Right Turn columnist and a bellwether of Jewish conservatism, took liberals to task on her blog for treating the event as “a spectacle” – it was borne of deeply considered worries about the country’s parlous state, she said – but Rubin also expressed caveats about the rally.
“His words at the event were restrained but not ecumenical,” she wrote. “And his use of public office to promote the Christian event was, to me, inappropriate. The event, while scheduled last December, is still reflective of the man who would be president. Would he do this in the Oval Office? Does he not understand how many Americans might be offended? Is he lacking advice from a non-Texan perspective?”
Fred Zeidman, an influential Houston lawyer who has known Perry for decades and has hosted him at his home, said that “None of us remember him being quite as devout as he seems to be now, but we wouldn’t necessarily have known.”
Zeidman, who for eight years served as chairman of the board of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, supports Mitt Romney. But Zeidman told JTA that before endorsing Romney, he checked with Perry last December to ask whether he would be running. At the time Perry said no.
On Saturday, Perry threw his hat into the ring.
“A great country requires a better direction,” he said, declaring his candidacy. “A renewed nation needs a new president.”
Perry has been a conservative since before he switched parties in 1989 to became a Republican. A cotton farmer and former Air Force pilot, he led efforts in his first five years as a Democrat in the Texas Legislature to pare the budget.
Perry, a devout Methodist, was attracted to Israel from the launch of his career. One of his first acts after being elected agriculture commissioner in 1991 was to create the Texas-Israel Exchange, which promoted information and research sharing.
In a 2009 interview with The Jerusalem Post, when as governor he led a delegation to Israel, Perry – who at about the same time flirted with Texas secessionist rhetoric – said the alliance was a natural one.
“When I was here for the first time some 18 years ago and I was touring the country, the comparison between Masada and the Alamo was not lost on me,” he told the Post. “I mean, we’re talking about two groups of people who were willing to give up their lives for freedom and liberty.”
As much as Perry’s heartfelt love for Israel makes him attractive to Republican Jews, it is the other reason he was in Israel at the time – seeking out job creation initiatives, as he has across the globe – that has been the basis of his Jewish support.
“I became intrigued by Rick Perry when I read his book Fed Up! because it was exactly what I was feeling,” Robin Bernstein, who heads Perry’s fundraising in Florida, said in an interview.
“His economic success in Texas is a model for the entire country.”
Texas has managed to weather the recession comparatively well, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has reported that half of all U.S. jobs created from June 2009 to April 2011 were in Texas.
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The IDF confirms Gaza’s ruling Hamas terror organization planned a massive terror attack on Israel via its tunnel network.
Israel’s holy capital of Jerusalem once more celebrates the election of both an Ashkenazi and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Jewish spiritual guidance in the city.
Visitors from Ebola-stricken West African nations will be required to enter the U.S. from one of only five airports.
The mortar, which hit Israel on Tuesday morning, did not cause any injuries or damage.
After lying in coma for months, 83-year-old Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani has died, Iranian media reported Tuesday.
A radicalized Canadian convert to Islam rammed soldiers in what may have been an act of terrorism.
PA unity govt chairman Mahmoud Abbas raises the penalty for selling land to a “hostile nation” (Jew).
Israel’s government is recruiting citizens to help combat the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa.
The Beach Boys aren’t coming to Israel next month…
The Jerusalem Light Rail has finally instituted a ‘zero tolerance’ police towards Arab violence against its trains.
A 2,000 year old stone fragment bearing an official Latin inscription dedicated to the Roman Emperor Hadrian is found in Jerusalem.
The death toll in Syria continues to rack up.
The woman’s father and other ISIS members stoned the woman to death for adultery.
Hamas has created a museum exhibit, currently showing at al-Aqsa University in Khan Younis, Gaza. Hamas is showing off its weapons and propaganda pieces from this past summer’s war, Operation Protective Edge.
It’s not yet clear if Nemmouche was acting on orders and, if so, whether the orders came from ISIS.
The disagreements don’t seem to have gone away, despite a cease-fire that appears to be firmly in place.
“On the Hill and with some people with whom I have spoken who are robust Israel supporters, people are concerned if not angry,” one of the staffers, a Democrat, told JTA
President Obama in an April 25 press conference seemed ready to take a break. “There may come a point at which there just needs to be a pause and both sides need to look at the alternatives,” he said.
Obama himself suggested that a break from the process may be necessary.
But Israel’s stance is not sufficiently consequential to set off a fight between friends, neoconservative scholars said.
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