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Posts Tagged ‘Republican Jewish Coalition’

Ari Fleischer, Norm Coleman, Expose Obama’s Record on Israel, But Leave Too Much Hidden

Monday, November 5th, 2012

To paraphrase Shoeless Joe Jackson: If you hold it, they will come.  The Republican Jewish Coalition held a Town Hall-style meeting to promote a Romney candidacy in northern suburban Philadelphia last week, and boy did they ever come!  The event was held on Thursday, November 1, at Gratz College, in Melrose Park, PA.  There wasn’t a parking space left across the entire campus, and cars lined the street surrounding the entrance.

The event, “The Jewish & Pro-Israel Community at a Crossroads – Critical Issues & Choices Facing the U.S. & Israel,” featured Senator Norm Coleman (Republican former U.S. Senator from Minnesota), and former White House Press Secretary and political pundit Ari Fleischer, with RJC executive director Matt Brooks as the host. They pulled together three big, deep-red easy chairs and two small tables to hold their water bottles.  The three spoke for an hour and a half in what seemed like a relaxed, and not overly rehearsed (although, clearly, it was) conversation about why Governor Mitt Romney is the better choice for president of the United States for Israel-supporters, especially  – but far from exclusively – Republican Jews.

Former Senator Norm Coleman (R. Min.) at the event Thursday.

Former Senator Norm Coleman (R. Min.) at the event Thursday. Photo: Richard Chait.

The pro-Romney event was the belated second half of a series held by a local synagogue.  The first event was in July, hosted by American Jews for Obama.   Headlining the July event was Democratic National Committee Chair Cong. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fl) as well as several local Democratic party politicians.  Thursday night’s event was moved to Gratz College because power was not yet fully restored, following the brutal lashing by Hurricane Sandy earlier in the week.

Not surprisingly, much of the discussion focused on Israel, with additional attention paid to the tragedy of the murders in Benghazi, Libya, and, to a lesser extent, domestic issues.

The evening began with a “preview” of a new RJC ad featuring Bryna Franklin, an American who now lives in Israel and who was, until recently, chair of “Democrats Abroad, Israel,” and was a past Democrat National Convention delegate.   Franklin explained why she is voting for Romney, even though “she’s never voted for a Republican before in my life.” Franklin’s words seemed to resonate for many in the audience.

This was the RJC traveling trio’s ninth stop in 5 days.  They had already appeared in Denver, Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio, Reno, Las Vegas, Detroit, Boca Raton and Miami, Florida, with Philly as the caboose.

President George W. Bush’s press secretary Ari Fleischer re-introduced the theme of an earlier RJC ad campaign, the one called “Buyer’s Remorse,” which featured voters who had voted for Obama in 2008, but who were voting against him in 2012.  Fleischer obviously was already a Republican, but he talked about why “Buyer’s Remorse” was such an apt meme for this campaign.

Why?  “Because,” Fleischer said, “Obama earned it, he earned it by his actions, he had the Jewish community,” but he lost it.  He ticked off a litany of missteps, including the President’s reversal of the commitment he made to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 2008, when he called Jerusalem, “Israel’s undivided capital,” but on which he reversed himself.  Fleischer said, “he caved, within 24 hours, he caved because of the pressure of ‘Palestinians.’”

Fleischer pointed out something that had been lost on most listeners.  As someone whose job it was to manage the message coming out of the W. Bush White House, Fleischer realized what it meant when Vice President Joe Biden in March, 2010, used the word “condemned” when he criticized Israel for building in Jerusalem. “That word is the most severe word in the political lexicon,” Fleischer said.  To put as fine a point as possible on it, he said, “during the Bush administration, we used the word ‘condemned’ to criticize terrorist attacks,” not the building of homes in Jerusalem.

Senator Norm Coleman is a foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney.  With his pompadoured hair and rail-thin physique, Coleman looks like a Saturday Night Live caricature of a politician, but somehow when he speaks from the stage, his personality fills out the hollows.  Like Fleischer, Coleman is also a former Democrat.  In fact, Coleman grew up in Brooklyn and said he “never met a Republican or a Lutheran until he went to college.”

Coleman got off one of the best lines of the evening when he told the standing-room crowd, that the “Buyer’s Remorse” theme goes beyond the Jewish community.  He said that after two wars and an economic downturn, “Americans wanted to change Washington . . . but they didn’t want to change America.”

Brooks asked Coleman, what about the phrase we keep hearing, that “Obama is the best friend for Israel’s security?”  “We’ve heard it from [Israeli President] Shimon Peres, [Israeli Defense Minister Ehud] Barak?”

Coleman disposed of the softball question with the obvious answer, “every Israeli leader is going to say every current American leader is ‘the best,’ because to do otherwise is not only unprofessional, it’s political suicide.”  In other words, anyone who quotes a sitting Israeli politician saying anything flattering about a sitting American politician has nothing of substance to offer.

The evening hit the high notes of the Romney campaign, bemoaning President Obama’s “leading from behind” lack of leadership which has led to a “less safe, less secure America, which, in turn, will only increase the need for boots on the ground” at more advanced, less opportune moments of international engagement, such as in various parts of the Middle East and elsewhere.

A recurring note was the dangers inherent in the ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the resurrection of Al Qaeda, including in Syria, Lebanon and Mali.

Fleischer took the oar on the domestic front.  He reminded the audience that America was already on its way out of the recession by the spring of 2009.  “But,” he said, “the actions of the anti-growth, anti-capitalism administration, through its ill-advised stimulus, the cash for clunkers program, the home-buying credits and the auto bailouts have actually steered us deeper into debt, and more firmly into the red.” He said we are “now in the slowest recovery since the Great Depression,” while pointing out that the President had “two full years with a veto-proof House of Representatives and a filibuster-proof Senate.”

ON IRAN SANCTIONS

Coleman said that this Administration originally opposed sanctions against Iran, it later opposed increasing the sanctions, and it opposed placing sanctions on the Bank of Iran, all of which the Obama campaign now claims are accomplishments of his administration.  Coleman also pointed out that even with the current level of sanctions – which is having an impact on Iranians, even if not on the Iranian regime’s efforts to acquire nuclear weaponization – there are too many exemptions.  But Sen. Coleman suggested there are additional measures that could be taken, and should already have been taken, to actually achieve a biting impact on the Iranian regime. He suggested treating a pariah-like nation like a pariah. “For example,” he said, “Iranian diplomats should not be able to travel freely.”

ON BENGHAZI

In what some see as akin to a Watergate-level presidential failure, Ari Fleischer said of the Benghazi tragedy, “as someone who was behind the podium on September 11, 2001, I initially refused to criticize the president or his administration for their performance, and instead insisted on ‘waiting for the factual information to come in.’”

Fleischer reminded the audience that Cong. Peter King (R-NY) immediately called for US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice to be fired, after she appeared on five different talk shows blaming the violence on a cheap video, when it turned out there was evidence long before that the violence was a planned terrorist attack and had nothing to do with the movie.  Fleischer had publicly disagreed with King.

But, Fleischer said, what changed his mind was learning that the CounterTerrorism Security Group was never even convened while the attack was on-going. (According to CBS News, “The CSG is the one group that’s supposed to know what resources every agency has. They know of multiple options and have the ability to coordinate counterterrorism assets across all the agencies.”  A high-ranking government official told CBS News, “they were not allowed to do their job. They were not called upon.”)

When Fleischer continued, “and yet the president blamed it on a video,” he was interrupted by the first and only major heckling incident of the evening.  A man stood up, shouting, “on the first day he said ‘terrorist!’” and walked out of the event.

After the outburst, Sen. Coleman tried to call the protester back into the auditorium, but the man had left, apparently uninterested in dialogue.  Coleman went on to calmly explain that while President Obama said the words “terrorist attacks,” during his talk in the Rose Garden on September 12, he was not referring specifically to the attack on the Benghazi diplomatic outpost, and that the administration continued for weeks to blame what was believed to be an American-made video for the violence that claimed the lives of the four Americans in Benghazi.

Both Coleman and Fleischer repeatedly said that “unfortunately,” the full truth about who knew what, when, and who made which decisions, is not going to come out before the election.  One audience member shouted out, “Fire him!” to which Sen. Coleman retorted, “you can do that on Nov. 6.”

DOMESTIC ISSUES

One woman asked the panelists to comment on whether Mitt Romney wanted to get rid of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Fleischer explained that he had also heard that rumor, and went to the source to see where it came from.  “Actually,” he explained, “while the question Romney was responding to was about FEMA, his answer was a more general response to government agencies which would be handled more efficiently and more expediently at the municipal and state levels, or even by private industry.”

Although Romney was being cast as shortsighted for calling for a change to be made to FEMA shortly before Hurricane Sandy hit, as Fleischer pointed out, it was the mayors and governors who were continually interviewed for information and updates, which was exactly Romney’s point.

On issues that present the ultimate barrier for so many Jews who might otherwise vote for a Republican, the two Republican politicians seemed to reflect the very nub of the issue.  Neither Coleman or Fleischer took a hard line on the issue of reproductive rights.  Fleischer was quick to make the point that on this issue, it is the Republican party that has the “big tent” approach.  He said that other than Pennsylvania’s own Sen. Bob Casey, it is hard to find any Democratic politicians who are pro-life, while there are many Republican pols who are pro-choice.

On the issue of health care, Coleman said that there are sections of Obamacare that are “pretty good,” and specifically mentioned the very real need to take care of those with a pre-existing condition.  The problem, he said, is that the way Obamacare is packaged, you can’t adopt the sensible provisions without being saddled with the ones that make no sense.

ONE BIG PROBLEM – LEADERS OVERESTIMATE THE PUBLIC’S KNOWLEDGE

FUNDING COMES FROM CONGRESS

One reason why so many Jewish supporters of President Obama have stuck with their 2008 choice is that the Democrats’ talking points are so reassuring, and because the Republican officials are so out of touch with what lay people know about how our government works.

Top talking points from the Jews for Obama playbook are that under Obama, Israel has received more financial and military assistance from the U.S. than under any other U.S. president, ever.

Of course that is nonsense, first, because Congress is primarily in charge of passing the budget.  It is in Congressional committees that the numbers get crunched – the President gets to submit a proposed budget, but Congress decides on the final budget, subject only to a presidential veto.

ISRAEL’S MISSILE DEFENSE

But at least as importantly, in this year, when President Obama and the Democrats have crowed so loudly about the enormous funding for Israel’s Arrow systems — two medium- and long-range anti-ballistic missile systems — and David’s Sling, a short-range anti-missile system, President Obama’s proposed budget actually decreased funding for that line item.  Congress ignored the President’s effort to reduce funding for Israel’s defense and instead practically doubled the amount requested by the Administration.  It was because of Congress that Israel received more “financial and military assistance” during this time period – although it was, indeed, technically, a time period during which Barrack Obama was the president – than ever before.

ISRAEL’S IRON DOME SYSTEM – AID AGREEMENT BEGAN IN 2007

At least one other point that bears discussion is the funding for Israel’s Iron Dome mobile defense system.  This system, which uses an interceptor to detonate incoming rockets and artillery shells, is largely credited with protecting much of southern Israel from its’ neighbors’ escalating aggression.   It is a project developed in and produced in Israel, but financed, in large part, by the U.S.  The financial agreement was part of a $30 billion 10-year military-aid agreement signed by the Bush administration back in 2007.

President Obama has not attempted to derail the Iron Dome aid project, but as a binding 10-year agreement, it is not clear that he even has the power to do so. But the project was neither developed during the Obama administration, nor did financial support for it originate with President Obama.

Unfortunately, the RJC trio gave short shrift to those major Democratic talking points that serve to allay the concerns of so many Jewish Americans who might otherwise be apprehensive about voting again for President Obama. Apparently they think “everyone knows” that it is Congress, the stalwart friend of Israel, that is the holder of the purse, and is the source for all U.S. aid, and they likewise think that “everyone knows” the Iron Dome defense system was a project agreed to during President Bush’s tenure in the White House, one which, as with virtually all military spending projects, is shepherded by hawks in Congress, in concert with the U.S. military – almost always a reliable friend to Israel.

But this is where the RJC and so many other political surrogates have lost touch with their audience, and it is a critical gap in comprehension which gives the edge to the Democratic party, when it comes to messaging to Jews and other pro-Israel supporters.

When the event concluded, two teenage boys stood out amidst a sea of late-middle age to decidedly-older audience members. Zach Lipstein and Noam Glanzberg-Krainin, both 13 year old students at a local Conservative Jewish day school, shyly agreed to answer a few questions from a reporter. Both quickly asserted that the panelists made “really good points.” Noam said he had not previously realized “that Iran is such a big threat.” Still, he was undecided about which candidate he favored, as “health care and the environment,” are two of his main concerns. Zach included Israel as amongst his top three priorities. He seemed confident, at least so long as his parents were watching, that he favors Romney.

Bob and Francine Lipstein, both Baby Boomers, thought the event was well worth their half hour ride from Lower Merion township, in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. Francine Lipstein was not surprised by the huge turnout, and said she was particularly “impressed by the panelists’ clarity on the issues.”

In particular, she was grateful for the event, as “the American people have not all heard the information, because the mainstream media is so ‘in the tank’ for Obama.” Lipstein didn’t have to be convinced as she already planned to vote for Romney because of his “business acumen, his love for Israel and his passion for helping others.” While she was not a “Buyer’s Remorse” voter, until 2001, Francine Lipstein was a Democrat.

Bob Lipstein was more succinct. He said the event “validated the passion I felt throughout this campaign.”

When was the last time you heard about Republican Jewish passion? Maybe it’s a new trend.

 

AIPAC, NORPAC, Stay Neutral in Race between Rabbi Boteach and CAIR Supporter Pascrell

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is running for US congress in the 9th Congressional District in New Jersey.  He is pro-marriage, pro-security, pro-democracy, pro-Israel, and pro-Arab (as in pro-democracy and western-style freedoms for Arabs).  His opponent, Democrat Bill Pascrell Jr., signed the infamous Gaza 54 letter blasting Israel for what it called “collective punishment” of Gazans by blockading food and medicine — not true — and reserved a meeting space for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in the Capital building, and has done his best to help block the deportation of radical anti-Israel Imam Mohamad Qatanani.

This particular election should be an easy choice for pro-Israel voters.  Should be, but something’s missing.

Other than the Republican Jewish Coalition and the locally-based Jewish paper, The Jewish Voice and Opinion, Rabbi Boteach doesn’t have the public support of major pro-Israel political organizations behind him.  In fact, although critics attack groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the single issue NORPAC political action committee as being blindly supportive of Israel, neither one of these political heavyweights are actively supporting Boteach’s bid for congress.

Why?

Both NORPAC and AIPAC typically support the incumbent in a race, unless he or she has failed to meet what is sometimes criticized as a “fairly low benchmark.”

Ben Chouake, president of NORPAC, told The Jewish Press that, in general, if an incumbent has a “good voting record,” which means largely that they “vote for U.S. aid to Israel, vote in favor of pro-Israel Resolutions, and have voted in favor of Iran sanctions,” they are considered a “friendly incumbent” and NORPAC will support them.  There are a few exceptions, but those are rare.

One example of such an exception was in the bruising primary campaign preceding this general election in NJ’s 9th, when Pascrell defeated his Democratic opponent, the fiercely pro-Israel Steve Rothman.  That battle was a Middle East conflict set in the Garden State.  A major Pascrell supporter, Dr. Aref Assaf, the president of the Arab American Forum authored an op-ed contemptuously referring to Rothman as being “Israel’s man.” Assaf also denounced Rothman as an “Israel-firster,” as in Israel was more important to Rothman than is the United States.

Even though both Pascrell and Rothman were incumbents with “good voting records,” NORPAC supported Rothman in the primary because he had an “extraordinary record on Israel.” However, NORPAC is now treating the NJ 9th election as an “open seat.” This means that they will bundle funds for either contestant, if asked.  “But,” Chouake said, “NORPAC is not making donations from their general fund for either candidate.”

Not everyone is thrilled with the kind of red line drawn by the major pro-Israel political organizations.

Chouake admitted that Pascrell signing the Gaza 54 letter and supporting Imam Qatanani were problematic.  “But Qatanani is a constituent of Pascrell’s, and the decision about whether to deport the Imam is a judicial one, not a congressional one.”

Maybe so, but Pascrell signed an affidavit opposing the deportation on behalf of Qatanani, the Imam of one of the largest mosques in New Jersey, calling him “peace-loving” and “magnanimous.”  That’s hard to square with information provided by Steve Emerson, one of the world’s leading terrorism experts.

Emerson wrote that Qatanani’s deportation case centered on the Imam’s lying on his immigration documents about having been arrested by Israel for membership in the terrorist organization Hamas.  But even while in the United States, Qatanani has openly displayed his hatred and contempt for Israel.  He allegedly referred to the creation of Israel as “the greatest disaster which occurred on the face of the Earth,” and has called for supporting the children of homocide bombers. It is difficult to reconcile that with the words in Pascrell’s affidavit and his 2008 description of Qatanani whom he said, “put so much time into bringing peace for all of us. Thank you imam, for all you’ve done for America since you’ve come here.”

On the other hand, although AIPAC and NORPAC are sitting out this election, the pro-Israel sugar daddy/mama team of Sheldon and Miriam Adelson have contributed directly to Boteach, as well as to a Boteach-connected super PAC.  In total, their contributions to Boteach account for more than half a million dollars.  The cash-infusion, in turn, led the Republican National Congressional Committee to upgrade Boteach’s campaign to “Contender” status.  That new status ensures Boteach will be the further recipient of important support from other GOP congressional leaders and other campaign accoutrements.

In fact, riding the wave brought on by the Adelsons’ donations, Rabbi Boteach is currently in Florida, attending the Republican National Convention.  The Jewish Press caught up with him in the RJC lounge.

What pushed the world-famous celebrity rabbi, author and reality show star to choose politics as his next frontier?

He says he “wants America to refocus on values, but not the side show ones on abortion and gay marriage.”  Boteach wants to focus on “supporting marriage, offering vouchers for school choice, and granting tax breaks to corporations to close on Sundays.”

He pointed out that “before the big brouhaha surrounding Chik-fil-A and gay marriage, the chain deserved attention for its astronomical growth, even though all the outlets were closed on Sundays.” His point is that being family-friendly does not have to have negative economic consequences for businesses.

When asked what distinguished him from his opponent who has what some professionals claim, is a “strong pro-Israel record,” Boteach let loose.  “Look, the number one issue threatening Israel is Iran.  But right behind that is the international delegitimization of Israel.  And Pascrell is one of the foremost congressional participants in that delegitimization.”

“Pascrell has engaged in a blood libel.  It was an astonishing act of ignorance for Pascrell to sign the ‘Gaza 54′ letter.”  That letter, according to Boteach, “charged Israel with engaging in collective punishment by falsely claiming they deny food and medicine to the Gazans.”  Pascrell has stood by that letter, saying he did not regret signing it.

Boteach asked, “what is the point of having the pro-Israel red line be support for aid to Israel, if, when every time Israel uses that aid to defend herself, she is accused of things like ‘collective punishment?”

Boteach is clearly disappointed by the lack of expected support.  Nonetheless, with the clout added to his campaign by the large financial show of Adelson support, Boteach was invited to address the RJC’s Salute to Pro-Israel Elected Officials at the Crowne Plaza Westshore Hotel last night.  Boteach is hoping that, “G-d willing,” at the next Republican Convention, he’ll be part of that audience.

AIPAC expressed disinterest in speaking on the record.  Congressman Pascrell’s campaign spokesman Keith Furlong did not respond to a request for comment.

Jon Voight Woos Jews in Otherwise Tame Tampa Convention

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Delegates to the Republican Convention have been pouring into Tampa for the last several days.  The delegates have been pouring in, but thus far, despite predictions that Hurricane Isaac might bring with it heavy rain and driving winds, there has been ‘nary a cloud in the sky.

Lynne Kessler Lechter  serves on the National Women’s Committee of the Republican Jewish Coalition.  Lechter told The Jewish Press that on Saturday night she attended a dinner for Republican Jewish Coalition leadership at the home of Ambassador Mel and Betty Semble.  Semble, a co-chair of the Florida Finance Committee for Mitt Romney, served as US ambassador to both Italy (2001 – 05) and Australia (1989-93).

The Academy Award-winner Jon Voight was one of the speakers at Saturday night’s dinner.  Lechter, who serves on the National Women’s Committee of the Republican Jewish Coalition, was delighted.  Voight explained to the RJC leadership that in part, his strong support for Israel was based on the fact that “his dad worked hard all his life and taught him to love and respect Jews because they have similar values.”

Marion Taxin is a delegate to the Republican Convention, representing Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District, located in suburban Philadelphia.  This will be Taxin’s second Republican Convention, having attended as an alternate in 2008.

The Jewish Press caught up with Taxin as she traveled by bus from the West Shore Doubletree Hotel on her way to the Convention site.  Although Taxin had not yet heard the news that Rabbi Meir Soloveichik was going to be giving the Convention invocation, she already knew, she said, that “Mitt Romney was truly committed to the Jewish State.”

“Josh Romney spoke to our delegation at a breakfast this morning,” said Taxin.  “He told us with such great pride that when he and his parents were recently in Israel, the response from the Israelis was incredibly enthusiastic,” she continued.

“He told us that so many people came up to him, when he was in Jerusalem, and said, ‘we need your dad, we have to have your dad win.’”  Taxin said that “Romney’s son understood that his father needs to win because Israel’s future is at stake.”

 

Jimmy Carter Unites Democrat and Republican Jews who Renounce his Convention Message

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Imagine this: two Jews, one opinion!

And not only two Jews, but two Jewish organizations, one representing Jewish Democrats and one representing Jewish Republicans, and there is still only one opinion.

Who accomplished this miracle?  None other than former US president Jimmy Carter.

In what may be a first, the Republican Jewish Coalition and the National Jewish Democratic Council agree on something, and it is something important.  They agree that former US president Jimmy Carter should not be speaking at the upcoming Democratic Convention which will take place September 3 – 6 at the Time-Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Democratic National Committee announced this week that Carter will be appearing via videolink in a prime time slot during the upcoming convention.  The announcement included a quote from Carter who expressed his “steadfast” support for President Obama and who looks forward to “the progress he will make in the next four years.”

Given President Obama’s recent outreach efforts to assure Jews they still have a comfortable berth in the Democratic party, it is hard to understand why a platform would be given to Carter.  Jimmy Carter is the only Democrat to have garnered fewer than fifty percent of the American Jewish vote in any presidential election since 1924.   In 1980, when Carter ran against Ronald Reagan, Carter received only 45 percent of the Jewish vote.

In the press release announcing Carter’s participation in the convention, the 2012 Democratic National Convention Chair, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, described Carter as “one of the greatest humanitarian leaders of our time and a champion of democracy around the globe,” and a “lifelong champion of human rights.” However, not everyone — even within the Democratic party — was quite so enthusiastic.

NJDC chair and CEO David Harris called Carter’s record on Israel and the Middle East an embarrassment.  Harris also described former President Carter as “harmful to the peace process.”

Speaking from the same page as his Democrat Party colleague, Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, responded to the news of Carter being headlined at the Democratic convention in only a slightly more hostile tone.  In an email to Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post, Brooks described Carter as “openly hostile to Israel,” and having publicly equated the Jewish Homeland to the South African Apartheid regime.  In 2006 Carter published a book about the Middle East peace process which largely blamed Israel for the conflict.  The title of Carter’s book is Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

The Jewish Republicans also took the opportunity to blast the Democratic party for showcasing someone who is widely seen as anti-Israel.

But the NJDC’s Harris was still hoping to minimize the fallout from Carter being showcased at the Democratic convention.  While clearly distancing himself from Carter, Harris said he was “confident” that the former president would not be using his speech to talk about Middle East policy.

Perhaps Harris has not read the Democratic National Committee press release announcing Carter’s slot at the convention.  It promises Carter will be providing “his unique insights about President Obama as a global leader,” and lauds Carter for being “a champion of democracy around the globe.”  It is hard to imagine that Carter will not devote at least some air time to promoting his version of peace in the Middle East.

Nonetheless, perhaps Jimmy Carter deserves another peace prize – forget about the enmity between Israel and Egypt, now he is the impetus for two sets of many Jews to have the same opinion.  That opinion: Jimmy Carter should not be speaking at the Democratic Convention.

Carter will give his videolinked convention speech on Tuesday night, September 4th.

Republicans Unveiling Jewish Democrats’ Buyer’s Remorse Ads

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

The election season is heating up early, and the video warfare is already sizzling.  The Republican Jewish Coalition has initiated a new campaign in ‘battleground states’ aimed at persuading lifelong Jewish Democrats dissatisfied with President Barack Obama to vote instead for Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

The multimillion-dollar advertising campaign, titled “My Buyer’s Remorse,” will be aired in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and is slated to begin in the coming weeks.

“For the past three years we’ve been hearing from people who were deeply disappointed and who wish they could have their vote back,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks told The Jewish Press.  “It became self-evident to us that we should take those testimonials and share them with everyone.”

Brooks said the people featured in what he said will be a “significant number” of ads were found through the RJC local offices.  The ad campaign uses testimonials from Jews who voted for Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign and now express regret over that decision, citing what they see as his poor treatment of Israel, and his ineffective economic policies.

The first ad can be previewed on the RJC website.  It features Michael Goldstein, a 40-something community college administrator and lifelong democrat from New Jersey who voted for Obama in 2008 because he “believed in what Obama stood for.”  Goldstein became disillusioned when he started hearing and seeing things he did not like from Obama once the election was over.  What kind of things?

“That speech about the ’67 borders,” Goldstein explained, “that really changed my mind.” Also very troublesome for Goldstein was the way the president treated the Israeli Prime Minister when Netanyahu visited the White House. “He’s not just the Prime Minister of Israel, he represents all of us, Jews, Israelis, people throughout the world who believe in the State of Israel.”  Goldstein was turned off by what he says was Obama’s incredible disrespect towards Netanyahu.

In a motif the RJC clearly wants to emphasize throughout the remainder of the campaign, the ad hones in on the concern that Jewish American voter has about what will be different if President Obama is elected for a second term.

“I think in the second term we’ll see the real Barack Obama,” Goldstein says, as the video pans over Jerusalem, “when he has no voters to deal with, I think he will change the game when it comes to Israel.  He’s going to put Israel in a position where they’re in danger.”

The RJC appears convinced that, despite the long and largely monogamous relationship between Jews and the Democratic party, there are certain strategic moves it can make that will be sufficient to have Jewish voters be the decisive factor in electing Mitt Romney.

Recent polls suggest that Jewish support for Obama has diminished, with him receiving 67 percent to Romney’s 25 percent – which would be the highest level of support for a republican candidate since George Bush received 35 percent of the vote in the 1988 contest against Democrat Michael Dukakis.

By following RJC polling calculations and concentrating on Jews in certain areas of three key states – Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, the RJC is banking on Jewish votes determining the outcome in those swing states.

Featured prominently in a New York Times story about the “My Buyer’s Remorse” campaign was the role allegedly played by casino magnate and staunchly pro-Israel Sheldon Adelson’s involvement.   When asked about Adelson’s role in this effort, Brooks told The Jewish Press that while Adelson has been an active supporter and member of the RJC board for a number of years, the organization is the form of non-profit that does not have to – and does not – disclose confidential information about donors, so “any stories about Mr. Adelson’s involvement is purely conjecture.”  What Brooks was willing to say is that “there is a large number of people involved in this effort.”

Whether or not Adelson was directly involved in this RJC campaign effort, he has been a strong presence in this year’s presidential campaign on behalf of the Republican party. In the Republican primaries earlier this year, he and his family donated $16.5 million to Newt Gingrich’s campaign, and when Romney came out the victor in the primaries, Adelson gave a $10 million donation to a Super PAC that supports Romney.

Suburban Philly Temple to Feature GOP Speaker after Wasserman Schultz

Monday, July 16th, 2012

A Philadelphia-area Reform temple will feature a Republican speaker to balance an appearance by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is set to speak Monday at the Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, Pa., on behalf of President Obama.

The synagogue’s senior rabbi, Lance Sussman, told JTA that he is now working with the Republican Jewish Coalition to set up an alternative event.

Sussman said the synagogue had reached out to multiple Republican officials, including at the Romney campaign, at the office of Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the Jewish U.S. House of Representatives majority leader, and Republican state lawmakers before announcing the Wasserman Schulz event.

In the absence of a speaker, and with Wasserman Schultz’s appearance approaching, Sussman said the temple had no choice but to go ahead with her event, while noting in the literature that a Republican speaker would also appear at another date.

The RJC’s Philadelphia-area chapter then objected through social media to what it called a one-sided program.

“The RJC presumed – and didn’t check with us – that we are not having another evening with a Republican speaker, which is something we are committed to and announced in our publicity,” Sussman told JTA.

Sussman ackowledged that the RJC had not been “on my radar,” although it has a high profile among political Jewish groups. But he also noted that his other Republican interlocutors had not referred him to the group. He said he would now establish a relationship with the group.

JTA left a message late Sunday with Matthew Brooks, the national RJC director, seeking further comment.

Romney Would Restore Closer, Warmer U.S.-Israel Ties

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told the passionately pro-Israel members of the Faith and Freedom Coalition that he would “do the opposite” of the things that President Obama has done regarding Israel, the room erupted in applause. They understood exactly what he meant because they know the Obama administration has not strengthened the U.S.-Israel relationship. President Obama has brought that strategic alliance to its lowest point in decades.

Let’s review a little history.

Obama began his presidency with a Middle East outreach tour that excluded Israel and had as its high point his major speech in Cairo. He told the Muslim world that Israel’s creation was the result of the tragedy in Europe (meaning the Holocaust) – echoing Muslim language that delegitimizes the Jewish state as a European implant in the region – and said that Israeli settlements were illegitimate.

The president followed up with a sustained public attack on Israeli settlement policy that was much harsher than we’d seen since the days of Jimmy Carter. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that even “natural growth” should not be permitted within Israeli towns beyond the Green Line, even in areas within or just outside of Jerusalem.

The 2004 Bush-Sharon letter said that certain areas outside the 1949 armistice lines should become part of Israel in a future negotiated settlement because of “new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers.” The Obama administration rejected the plain meaning of that letter.

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to an unprecedented ten-month freeze on settlement construction, the Obama administration put no pressure on the Palestinians to respond and they never came to the negotiating table during that time. At the end of the ten months, the Palestinians insisted that the freeze continue before they would join in negotiations, and the Obama administration fully backed their demand without making any demands on the Palestinians or holding them accountable for commitments they had already made.

In March 2010, the Israeli government made a routine announcement of one step in the planning process for new homes in a Jerusalem neighborhood while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Jerusalem. It was an indelicate slip-up, given the Obama administration’s stance on settlements.

In response, the Obama administration went full bore in condemning Israel in the strongest diplomatic terms possible. Clinton read the riot act to Netanyahu in a scathing 45-minute phone call made public by her office. Obama political adviser David Axelrod went on the weekend talk shows to call the settlements announcement an “insult.”

The heated condemnation of Israel came as Palestinians were working toward a reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. The Obama administration said nothing about that, saving all its venom and vitriol for Israel.

In the spring of 2011, Obama made a speech that blindsided Netanyahu just hours before the prime minister arrived in the United States for another summit meeting. The president fundamentally changed U.S. policy by saying, “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”

By setting the armistice lines as the baseline for negotiations and implying that both Israel and the Palestinians would have to “swap” land tit for tat, Obama made the Palestinians’ intransigent, revisionist position into U.S. policy. Even leading Democrats in Congress protested the president’s words.

At the United Nations, where the United States has long defended Israel, the Obama administration has sharply criticized Israel to the international community. When the Security Council has considered anti-Israel resolutions, Obama often has refused to defend Israel during the debate. When he has ordered a U.S. veto, his UN ambassador has used it as an opportunity to publicly criticize Israeli settlement policy in the sharpest of terms.

In the first three years of his term, Obama inserted plenty of “daylight” between the United States and Israel. Only recently, when the president’s Jewish support began eroding dramatically in the polls, has the administration backed away from its cold, often belligerent treatment of Israel.

The military assistance and cooperation, the diplomatic words and the other things that President Obama’s publicists are now touting are the very least one would expect from an American president, given that the American people and Congress are such unwavering, staunch supporters of a strong Israel and a strong U.S.-Israel alliance.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/romney-would-restore-closer-warmer-u-s-israel-ties/2012/06/27/

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