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Coleman: Romney is more than a fair-weather friend of Israel

Monday, July 23, 2012
By: Norm Coleman

At the end of the month, Mitt Romney will visit Jerusalem. It has become a ritual of American politics for presidential candidates to pay a visit to Israel, but this is certainly not Romney’s first trip to Israel -- this will mark his fourth visit -- and it won’t be his last.

I’ve known Mitt Romney for a long time, and what I know makes his sincerity and deep commitment to the security of the State of Israel part of his core.

That commitment flows from his understanding of Israel’s society and history. Romney is a democrat, with a small “d.” Israel is a thriving democracy, living in mortal danger throughout its modern history. Romney is full of admiration not only for Israel’s democratic political order, but also for the way Israelis have defended themselves against all odds since Israel’s founding as a state in 1948.

By sheer coincidence, Romney is an old and personal friend of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Romney’s first job after finishing up at Harvard was at the Boston Consulting Group, and Netanyahu was working there at the time and sat in an office down the hall. The two struck up a friendship and have remained close. If Romney were to become president, it would be an extraordinary chapter in U.S.-Israeli relations.

“There is little precedent,” The New York Times wrote recently, “for two politicians of their stature to have such a history together that predates their entry into government.”

Certainly Israel could use a close friend in the White House these days.

Israel’s position in the Middle East has become more precarious than at any time since the Yom Kippur War in 1973. It faces grave challenges and even existential threats. Iran has been pursuing nuclear weapons while making no secret of its hatred for Israel and its desire to wipe it off the map of the Middle East.

Thanks to the revolution in Egypt, the future of the Camp David Accords and peace on Israel’s southern flanks hangs in the balance. To Israel’s north, in Syria, we see the brutality that some of Israel’s neighbors are capable of exercising even against their own people. And as we saw this week in Bulgaria, remorseless terrorists continue to attack Israeli civilians around the world.

Israel has always insisted, rightly, on defending itself by itself. It doesn’t want or need others to fight its battles. But it has also always looked to the United States as an ally in the same fight for freedom and the right to live in peace.

Over the last three years, however, the U.S.-Israeli relationship has been troubled.

President Obama does not seem to have personal affection for the Jewish state. He has publicly castigated Israel, including at the United Nations. He was caught on a hot microphone denigrating Israel’s prime minister, and when Netanyahu came to Washington he received him with marked coolness, neglecting to hold the customary joint news conference before asking the Israeli leader to exit through a rear door.

Far more significant than these indignities has been the relative passivity of the president toward the mounting threat posed by Iran. Even as the ayatollahs have pressed forward with their bomb-building project, and even as they continue directing genocidal threats toward Israel, Obama has naively sought to “engage” Iran in “dialogue.” Through this process, the Iranians have gained what they needed most: time. According to the latest intelligence reports, they are using that time to rush forward and realize their nuclear ambitions.

When ordinary Iranians bravely took to the streets in 2009 to protest their country’s stolen election, the Obama administration was shamefully silent. We cannot say what would have happened had America’s moral authority been brought to bear, but we can say that with the bloody suppression of the protesters, a once-in-a-generation chance to rid the world of a vicious regime was missed.

The failed record of Barack Obama’s diplomacy suggests he does not take seriously the threatening words of the Iranians and is therefore not taking seriously the threat they present to both Israel and the United States. If Iran is permitted to acquire nuclear weapons, it will dominate the Middle East, igniting proxy wars with impunity and making nuclear terrorism a perpetual and horrific danger.

We need a leader in the White House who both understands these perils and will act to avert them. We cannot afford to wait until the dangers are already upon us.

As president, Obama has toured the world and toured the Middle East, choosing Cairo as the location to deliver a major address. Yet he has yet to visit Israel, our closest ally in the region. He seems to labor under the illusion that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute lies at the center of the Middle East’s problems, even as the region is wracked by war and revolution unrelated to Israel.

Mitt Romney has a different view. He understands that Israel is targeted by the region’s failed states as a convenient scapegoat. He also understands that there is a worldwide campaign to demonize the Jewish state. It is for this very reason that he has pledged that his first foreign trip as president will be to Jerusalem. He intends to send a signal to the world -- and especially to Israel’s adversaries -- that the United States is not a fair-weather friend of Israel, but a partner in an abiding relationship based upon a common commitment to our most fundamental values.

Norm Coleman served as a Republican U.S. senator from Minnesota from 2003 to 2009, and currently is Of Counsel at Hogan Lovells US LLP. He is a member of the RJC Board of Governors.


This article was published by JTA on July 22, 2012. Used with permission of the author.

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Fleischer: The Latest News on Tax Fairness

Monday, July 23, 2012
By: Ari Fleischer

If fairness in paying taxes means the amount you pay is based on the amount you make, then the only group in America paying at least a "fair share" is the top 20%—people who make more than $74,000. For everyone else, the tax code is a bargain.

You wouldn't know this from President Obama's rhetoric, but our tax system, according to a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), is incredibly progressive. Consider: The top 1% of income earners pay an average federal tax rate of 28.9%. (See the nearby table.) The average federal tax rate on the top 20% is 23.2%. The 20% of taxpayers earning between $50,100 and $73,999 pay an average 15.1%, and so on down the line. The CBO report includes payroll as well as income taxes paid.

There's also another way of looking at fairness, and that's the tax burden. Here, consider the top 20% of income earners (over $74,000). They make 50% of the nation's income but pay nearly 70% of all federal taxes.

The remaining 30% of the tax burden is borne by 80% of the taxpayers, those who make less than $74,000. In short, this group's share of taxes paid, 30%, is lower than the share of income they earn, 50%.

Yet President Obama says that "for some time now, when compared to the middle class," the wealthy "haven't been asked to do their fair share."

He's right that the system isn't fair, but not because the top 1% pay too little. It is because they pay too much.

Mr. Obama has said that some wealthy employers pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries. True, some are able to lower their effective federal tax rate by giving millions to charity. Or because they derive much of their income as capital gains or from tax-free municipal bonds.

But middle- and low-income Americans who do not invest also pay lower rates thanks to the deductions they receive, such as a $1,000 per child tax credit (which phases out for couples who make more than $110,000), or the Earned Income Tax Credit, which no one making more than $50,000 is supposed to receive.

The CBO report ("The Distribution of Household Income and Federal Taxes, 2008 and 2009") covers the years 1979-2009. It makes plain that the impression conveyed by the president about what upper-income Americans pay in taxes does not hold up to scrutiny.

First of all, the share of taxes paid by the top 20% has gone up over the last 30 years, while the share of taxes paid by everyone else has gone down. It has gone up despite the tax cuts enacted by President Clinton in 1997 and by President Bush in 2001 and 2003. But that makes no difference to the president. The only group of taxpayers he calls on to "sacrifice" are those already doing all the tax sacrificing.

The top 20% in 1979 made 44.9% of the nation's income and paid 55.3% of all federal taxes. Thirty years later, the top 20% made 50.8% of the nation's income and their share of federal taxes paid had jumped to 67.9%.

And the top 1%? In 1979, this group earned 8.9% of the nation's income and paid 14.2% of all federal taxes. In 2009, they earned 13.4% of the nation's income but their share of the federal tax burden rose to 22.3%.

Meanwhile, the federal tax burden on middle- and lower-income earners is lighter. In 1979, the bottom 20% paid barely any taxes at all, just 2.1%. Now their share of taxes is a minuscule 0.3%. The burden on the middle-income earners ($34,900 to $50,100) has dropped too. In 1979, they paid 13.6% of all federal taxes; in 2009 they paid 9.4%.

One reason our country is so divided is because the president keeps dividing us. If taxes need to be raised to fight a war or fund a cause, the president should ask everyone to pitch in. If the need is national, the solution should be national—and that includes all of us.

But that's not how Mr. Obama governs. We learned during the 2008 campaign that he believes in spreading the wealth around. And recently we learned he doesn't believe that successful people made it on their own. Without the government, the president tells us, job creators and entrepreneurs would not be able to make it in America.

It's really the other way around. Without job creators and the successful, the government wouldn't have any money. So next time Mr. Obama meets someone in the top 1% or even the top 20%, instead of saying they're not paying their fair share, he should simply say thank you.

Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary for President George W. Bush, is president of Ari Fleischer Communications and a member of the RJC Board of Directors.

This article appeared in the Wall Street Journal on July 23, 2012. Reprinted with permission of the author.
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Katsman: Big trouble for Obama

Friday, July 13, 2012
By: Abe Katsman

Let’s take a short break from the back-and-forth arguments on the merits of whether to reelect President Barack Obama or to send him packing after one term. Instead, here’s a different take on how the election is shaping up based on some compelling history and demographic analysis. (Spoiler alert: This analysis does not bode well for the Democrats.)

Conventional wisdom holds that it is tough to beat an incumbent president. In a broad sense, that is true: 25 incumbent presidents have stood for reelection; only 9 have lost.

But there is a remarkable underlying pattern in American presidential history: While the United States has elected 16 presidents to second terms, in 15 of those cases, the president was reelected by a wider margin than in his first-term election. (The outlier: Woodrow Wilson was re-elected in 1916 by a razor-thin margin in what was essentially a referendum on whether America should enter World War I. His campaign theme: “He kept us out of war.” Eleven weeks into his second term, at Wilson’s urging, the US declared war against Germany. Fascinating history, but I digress.)

There is a lesson in that wider-margin-required-for-reelection statistic. Second term presidential candidacies are ultimately a thumbs-up/thumb-down verdict on a president’s first term in office. Either the first term has been successful enough to win over even some of those who voted against the president the first time around, or the president loses. The question in the minds of voters — especially those who did not vote for the incumbent the first time around — boils down to: “Do I want four more years of this?”

And in the case of President Obama, who won 53% of the vote last time out, it’s hard to see what segments of the electorate would be clamoring to answer that question in the affirmative at all, let alone in higher percentages than he received in 2008. His job approval numbers are far below that 53% level already.

Obama’s 2008 margin of victory was 7%. Now, let’s assume that 2008 Republican voters remain Republican; if just one in 13 Americans who supported Obama switch their vote, he loses. And if he can’t repeat the enthusiastic turnout numbers from various demographics he won in 2008, he’s in even bigger trouble.

Ready for some campaign arithmetic? Let’s look at those demographics. First, Obama ’08 spurred a record turnout of black Americans — and an all-time high of 13% of ballots cast — who voted for his historic election at an appropriately historic rate of 96%. Both those numbers will be nearly impossible to duplicate — after all, re-electing the first black president isn’t exactly as monumental as electing him the first time. Furthermore, Obama’s gay marriage endorsement hurts him in the culturally conservative black community, and astronomical unemployment rates, especially for young black men, aren’t going to help. If black turnout drops from 65% to a more normal 58%, and Obama’s vote drops to 90%, that 7% margin of victory instantly shrinks to 5%.

The under-30 vote will be another Obama headache. This demographic turned out in droves for Hope and Change, making up 18% of the total vote, and voting more than 2:1 for Obama — worth more than six points of Obama’s seven-point margin. As they’ve graduated into a terrible job market, the under-30 crowd won’t repeat either that turnout or that endorsement of Obama. If one in three of that group’s Obama voters switches sides, the entire six-point Obama advantage disappears.

The Jewish vote likely presents still another hurdle for Obama. Jews make up close to 4% of the overall vote (due to ridiculously high participation rates). Jews voted 78%-22% for Obama, accounting for 3 of Obama’s 53%. But Obama’s difficult relationships with Israel and the US economy have disillusioned many Jewish voters. If even one out of three of those Jewish Obama votes become Romney votes, another two points are erased from Obama’s 2008 victory.

Whether the demographic is military veterans, white working-class voters, soccer moms, Catholics, Mormons, or Evangelicals, the pattern is repeated. Who is going to vote for Obama in higher numbers than they did in 2008?

Two new polls should be particularly worrisome for Obama. Gallup reported yesterday that across 12 swing states, Romney voters are more likely to be “extremely enthusiastic” about voting by an eight-point margin. And the Hill reported its new survey results yesterday showing one in five self-identified Democrats saying that the country had changed for the worse during the Obama administration. Overall, 56 percent of all likely voters see the changes to the country since Obama took office as negative, versus just 35 percent who view them positively.

“Do I want four more years of this?” In the face of a limping economy, exploding deficits, and America’s increasingly precarious position on the world stage, it’s hard to believe that Obama can get even all of his own 2008 voters to answer that question in the affirmative, let alone a chunk of those who voted Republican last time.

Only nine incumbents have lost bids for reelection. But if America continues its pattern of only reelecting presidents by a wider margin than that of their first term, Obama is about to become number 10.


Abe Katsman, a Seattle native, is a busy American attorney, consultant, political commentator and writer living in Israel.
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Recognize Tragedy as Olympic History

Friday, July 13, 2012
By: Sanford D. Horn

Like most Americans I look forward to the pageantry of the opening ceremonies of the 40th Summer Olympiad that will commence on Friday, July 27 in London – the parade of nations with their flags carried proudly by one of that country’s heroes as well as the various national garbs worn by its athletes and team members.

However, amid all the pomp and circumstance, the cheering, the display of sportsmanship as the athletes take the Olympic pledge, it will be lost that this is the 40th anniversary of the darkest moment in Olympic history. For it was on September 5, 1972, that the Games of the 20th Olympiad in Munich, West Germany shockingly turned from the games of peace to a waking nightmarish tragedy.

Shortly after 4 a.m., eight Palestinian terrorists from Black September, a faction of the PLO invaded the Olympic village kidnapping 11 Israeli athletes and trainers. Upon the initial assault, the Israelis fought back, to the detriment of Moshe Weinberg and Yossef Romano – shot dead instantly.

Over the next 18-plus hours, tensions mounted as the Israelis continued to be held by the Black September terrorists who made the demand of the Israeli government to release 234 prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Ultimately, the Israeli hostages were moved and loaded into two helicopters, where after 10:40 p.m. shots fired outside the helicopters led the terrorists to believe they were under attack.

“A terrorist shot four of the hostages in one helicopter as another Palestinian tossed a grenade inside. The explosion ignited the fuel tank, and the captive Israelis burned. Another terrorist then shot the Israelis in the other helicopter. Germans present at the airfield still remember the screams. Eleven Israelis, five Palestinians and one German police officer died during the Munich tragedy.” (

The late, great sportscaster Jim McKay, thrust into round-the-clock duty in an era prior to cable television and 24-hour news cycles, reported with his usual aplomb, the events as they unfolded right down to the final shots. McKay said it best: “Our worst fears have been realized… There were 11 hostages; two were killed in their rooms yesterday morning. Nine were killed at the airport tonight. They’re all gone.”

The games resumed, hardly missing a beat and for 40 years, the tragedy has been swept under the rug – a permanent stain on the games, permeated by terrorism and rife with perpetual anti-Semitism, largely ignored by the global community.

Once again, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) under the alleged leadership of President Jacques Rogge had denied the numerous requests that this tragedy be recognized with a mere minute of silence during the opening ceremonies in London, on this, the 40th anniversary of Munich.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard wrote to Rogge in hopes of garnering some recognition for the slain Israeli Olympic team at the London Olympics.

“The occasion of the Olympic Games in London this summer also marks the 40th anniversary of the terrible tragedy that occurred in Munich during the 1972 Olympic Games.

On behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia, I am writing respectfully to express support for the observation of a moment of silence to be held at the 2012 London Olympic Games opening ceremony, or at an appropriate time during the Games, so that the Olympic movement can honour, before the world, the memory of those whose lives were lost during that horrific event.” (

As an American, the question must be asked of Barack Obama, sports-fan-in-chief, where was your letter to the president of the IOC? You spent so much time and taxpayer dollars overseas attempting to procure an Olympics for your adopted hometown of Chicago. Did you not want to offend your Arab allies by taking up for 11 dead Israelis? Do you continue to think that little of Israel while continuing to rake in millions of dollars from the Jewish voting community you take for granted?

The 11 slain Israelis:


Yossef Gutfreund

Amitzur Shapira

Kehat Shorr

Andrei Spitzer

Jacov Springer

Moshe Weinberg


Athletes (wrestlers/weightlifters)

David Berger

Zeev Friedman

Eliezer Halfin

Yossef Romano

Mark Slavin

May their memories always be for a blessing.
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Rubinstein: The Imperial Obama Administration

Thursday, July 12, 2012
By: Reed Rubinstein

The term “Imperial Presidency” became popular in the 1960s, and served as the title of a 1973 volume by historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. to describe the modern presidency of the United States. Schlesinger’s argument was that the Presidency and the Executive Branch had grown entirely out of control and that all constitutional limits on Executive Power had been lost. His real target, of course, was the Nixon Administration.

Leftist opponents of George W. Bush resurrected the “imperial Presidency” charge, claiming that the Bush Administration had slipped the constraints of constitutional limits with respect to its war-making authority in Iraq. As one critic wrote in a July, 2007 New York Times op-ed: “Given how intent the president is on expanding his authority, it is startling to recall how the Constitution’s framers viewed presidential power. They were revolutionaries who detested kings, and their great concern when they established the United States was that they not accidentally create a kingdom. To guard against it, they sharply limited presidential authority, which Edmund Randolph, a Constitutional Convention delegate and the first attorney general, called ‘the foetus of monarchy.’” Yet, for the most part, the Bush Administration was appropriately deferential to Congress and the courts, and the left’s “imperial Presidency” claims lacked substantial foundation.

The mantle of an imperial Presidency, however, sticks tightly to Barak Obama. In truth, the Obama Presidency has been absolutely Nixonian in its disregard for constitutional limits and uniquely disrespectful for the authority of Congress and the judiciary. Here are only a few examples:

  • The Obama administration committed US troops to combat operations against Libya on the basis of a UN Security Council resolution but without Congressional resolution, approval or sanction, contrary to the Constitution and the War Powers Act.

  •  In April 2012, the Obama Administration bypassed Congress to fund the Palestinian Authority via a waiver stating the aid was "important to the security interests of the United States." The $192 million aid packagewas frozen by Congress after the Palestinians moved to gain statehood at the United Nations in September 2011.

  • By administrative order, the Administration halted deportations of illegal aliens contrary to the laws of the United States.

  •  President Obama has attacked the authority and legitimacy of the Supreme Court in a manner and fashion without parallel in the post-war period. Opposed to an expansive definition of free speech, Obama took the unprecedented step of criticizing the Supreme Court during a State of the Union address. Then, when it became clear that the Court had serious doubts regarding the constitutionality of the Administration’s signature health care bill, the Administration launched a concerted and calculated effort to influence the Court by threatening to undermine its basic legitimacy. To begin with, the Administration needed unprecedented and corrosive procedural gamesmanship by Congressional leaders to enact Obamacare. Then, the President publicly warned the Court, in the midst of deliberations, that it “would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step” to find the law unconstitutional and influential political voices began urging the President to run a tough political campaign against the Court if Obamacare was overturned.

  •  In February 2011, Mr. Obama directed the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages, against constitutional challenges. DOMA was and remains a valid statutory enactment by the Congress.

  •  Mr. Obama bypassed the Senate confirmation process to install four officials using his recess appointment powers, even though the Senate was in pro forma session.

  •  The Administration "cooked" the auto bailout to benefit political supporters at the expense of statutorily protected bondholders without changing existing law. In the years leading up to the economic crisis, Chrysler had been unable to acquire routine financing and so had been forced to turn to so-called secured debt in order to fund its operations. Secured debt takes first priority in payment; it is also typically preserved during bankruptcy under what is referred to as the "absolute priority" rule — since the lender of secured debt offers a loan to a troubled borrower only because he is guaranteed first repayment when the loan is up. In the Chrysler case, however, creditors who held the company's secured bonds were steamrolled into accepting 29 cents on the dollar for their loans. Meanwhile, the underfunded and unsecured pension plans of the politically connected United Auto Workers were paid more than 40 cents on the dollar. This was unprecedented.

  • The Administration has waived "No Child Left Behind" requirements contrary to statutory provisions.

  •  In his first week in office, Obama issued an executive order to close Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, another to restore taxpayer funding of overseas abortion groups and one more to lift a ban on taxpayer funding of research using stem cells from human embryos. Later, when a federal judge struck down the stem cell executive order, Obama’s National Institutes of Health issued new guidelines for researchers that suggested they could basically ignore the judge’s ruling.

  •  The Administration has waived "Obamacare" requirements for favored companies and unions. There are no fixed standards for these waivers.

  •  After the Employee Free Choice Act—designed to bolster labor unions’ dwindling membership rolls—was defeated by Congress, the National Labor Relations Board announced a rule that would implement "snap elections" for union representation, limiting employers’ abilities to make their case to workers and virtually guaranteeing a higher rate of unionization at the expense of workplace democracy. This was quickly struck down by the courts.

  •  After an Internet regulation proposal failed to make it through Congress, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it would regulate the Web by order. This has been challenged in court.

  •  According to Politico, the Administration appointed at least 30 "czars to formulate and implement policy. Only five of these were subject to Congressional confirmation. None of the czars for "green jobs," "climate change," executive payments, healthcare, energy and environment, and science were vetted by Congress. Congress moved to rein the Administration in through its budget authority. However, President Obama in his signing statement regarding H.R. 1473, the FY 2011 Budget Bill, stated that section 2262 of H.R. 1473, which bars the expenditure of funds for four named White House staff positions, would be ignored.

  •  The Administration has repeatedly bypassed Congress, using executive orders, agency guidance and collusive lawsuit settlements, to implement environmental regulations. Specific examples are greenhouse gas regulation, expansion of Clean Water Act jurisdiction, chemical regulations, regulation of Chesapeake Bay stormwater runoff, reconsideration of national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ozone, reversal of the California Waiver, retroactive veto of Arch Coal’s Clean Water Act permit for Spruce Mine No. 1, and overriding West Virginia’s water permitting authority to further burden the coal industry. The administration’s fuel economy standards, which can be viewed as the regulatory equivalent of declaring war on carmakers, were invoked without Congressional involvement, in a clear departure from past precedent when Congress has set the standards and the EPA has implemented them. This time, the EPA is doing both.


Reed Rubinstein is a shareholder in the Washington, D.C. office of Dinsmore & Shohl LLP and a member of the RJC's Leadership Council. The views expressed here are solely his own.
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Jerusalem Post: 'Israelis saw Obama faults before US Jews'

Tuesday, July 10, 2012
By: Gill Hoffman, Jerusalem Post Chief Political Correspondent

The lack of support for US President Barack Obama from Jews in Israel acted as a harbinger for their counterparts in the United States, Republican Jewish Coalition executive director Matt Brooks and GOP strategist Ari Fleischer told The Jerusalem Post on a visit to Israel Tuesday.

Brooks and Fleischer came to Jerusalem to support the IVoteIsrael campaign, which aims to register as many as possible of the 150,000 American citizens in Israel who are eligible to vote in the November 6 election.

They cited polls in the Post going back to June 2009, which found that only a small percentage of Israelis considered the Obama administration more pro- Israel than pro-Palestinian.

“The polls in The Jerusalem Post reverberated around the Jewish community in America,” Fleischer said. “They were an early warning signal in the US that there were cracks in Obama’s armor. In 2009 American Jews were so pro-Obama. Israelis saw the cracks first, and now the American Jewish community is going through a significant case of buyer’s remorse.”

Brooks said they came to Israel because the number of eligible voters in the Jewish state was similar to key battleground cities like Fort Lauderdale, Florida or Dayton, Ohio. He noted that thousands of votes from American-Israelis would be counted in those states.

“I am a survivor of the 2000 election in the US [that George W. Bush won thanks to 537 votes in Florida],” Fleischer said. “If this race will be equally close, there is a possibility that a large number of absentee ballots coming into Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio can make the difference. It is also important to plant a flag on Israeli soil. Politicians notice a massive boost in voting like there could be here.”

IVoteIsrael campaign director Elie Pieprz said the organization has already registered American-Israelis in 45 states.

He said the US Embassy had even added more times to submit voter registration forms due to the large number of forms they were receiving via IVoteIsrael. Pieprz stressed that his organization was bipartisan and would facilitate the visit of Democratic Jewish leaders as well.

Brooks admitted that a majority of US Jews would continue to vote Democratic.

He said his goal was to continue the pattern of a higher percentage of American Jews voting Republican each presidential election.

“There is no doubt that Mitt Romney will do extremely well among Jewish voters,” Brooks said. “Success will be the continuing process of gaining market share at the expense of the Democrats, especially in key battleground states.”

All rights reserved © The Jerusalem Post 1995 - 2012

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Goldman: Responding to claims about Pres. Obama and Israel

Monday, July 09, 2012
By: Marc Goldman

[Note: This was written in response to an op-ed that has made the rounds in email as well, which makes the argument that Pres. Obama is a strong friend of Israel.]

Mark Vogel’s response regarding Obama’s support for Israel and where Obama’s true sympathies lie is misleading and dangerous. To equate help in fighting the Carmel Forest Fire or in rescuing Israelis trapped in the Egyptian embassy is disingenuous and ignores the following facts among many others:

  • Obama’s first international phone call from the oval office after becoming president was to Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian authority, successor to Yasser Arafat. Of everyone on the world’s stage, that’s whom he chose to call first.

  •  Obama’s first overseas trip was to Egypt, and to other Muslim nations, most of who are conspiring to destroy Israel.

  •  After bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia, when there were demonstrations in Cairo Egypt, Obama could not wait to insist on our allay Mubarak leaving office, thus opening the door for the Muslim brotherhood to take over Egypt, which has now happened. He did that despite the fact that Mubarak, perhaps not the world’s greatest humanitarian, did however faithfully keep and honor the peace treaty with Israel. Obama’s behavior was completely opposite when the Iranian people were peacefully demonstrating to overthrow their government, a government that has threatened to annihilate Israel. Obama’s position was “it is an internal Iranian affair, it’s none of our business.” Similarly Obama was happy to lead from behind to over throw Gaddafi in Libya, which was not threatening Israel. Yet in Syria, the Iranian client state which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, Obama is eerily quiet as the Syrian government murders its citizens by the thousands.

  •  The issue of the disrespect, which Obama overtly showed to Prime Minister Netanyahu, is not a matter of being invited for dinner or left standing in the doorway. In the Arab world, signs of respect and deference speak volumes and so the public dissing of Israel’s prime minister and the deep bow to the Saudi king send very loud and clear messages from the president of the United States to Israel and to its enemies, in a way that is too subtle for most Americans to recognize.

  •  The sanctions, which have been placed on Iran as it continues to violate one after another of UN resolutions in its mad dash to develop a nuclear weapon, have been forced on the unwilling Obama administration by a Congress that is far more sympathetic to Israel.

  •  And lest we forget; the Barack Obama who spoke at AIPAC, while he was a candidate for president, in words that every supporter of Israel responded to with enthusiasm; that he was committed to Jerusalem being the eternal undivided capital of Israel. Is the very same Barack Obama who the very next day issued a statement that he misspoke, and that what he meant was that Jerusalem should not be divided with barbed wire as it had been before 1967.

The likelihood that the real Barak Obama is the one who was overheard telling Russian Prime Minister, Medvedev, to please tell Vladimir Putin not to pressure him at this time, that Obama will have much more flexibility after he is reelected, is too frightening and dangerous to take a chance on.
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Daily Herald: More suburban Jews turning to the Republican Party

Monday, July 09, 2012
By: Kerry Lester (Chicago Daily Herald)

Standing at a Skokie Holiday Inn before a table full of “Obama! Oy Vey!” buttons, Anita Ashe and Ellen Warsaw had a strikingly similar story to tell.

The women, both Skokie residents, were born and raised in an environment where voting Democratic was as natural for their families as the Friday Shabbat dinners that were a regular part of their Jewish faith.

Despite that political history, Ashe in recent years has found herself attending events sponsored by he Chicago Chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition after becoming “more and more conservative as I read more and get perspectives on the issue.”

“Many of my friends who are Jewish say because of the Democrats, the women have the right to vote, they can choose,” Ashe said. “And all those things I support, but not the Democrats today.”

A strong Israel trumps other international issues for Ashe. And locally, troubled finances in the Democrat­led state government and unhappiness with Democratic politics have both women expecting to vote Republican in the Nov. 6 election.

A poll released last month shows the women are part of a larger, national trend.

The June 8 Gallup poll showed Jewish American support for a Democratic president at 64 percent — a sizable majority but the lowest level since 1988, when Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis was defeated by George H.W. Bush. At the same time, poll results indicate support for Romney is at 29 percent, the highest level of Jewish support for a Republican presidential candidate in 24 years.

The shift is possible, analysts say, because of Romney’s focus on the economy over social issues and concern by some that the Obama administration might not be wholly committed to keeping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

That trend is mirrored locally, members of the Chicago chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition say. They trace the shift’s beginnings to a decade ago, when Highland Park Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, then making a first­ time bid in the North Shore 10th Congressional District, began to peel away traditional Jewish Democratic votes by combining a socially moderate platform with efforts to strengthen Israel.

Democratic Jewish politicians remain well represented in the Chicago area, from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to Evanston Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky to Brad Schneider of Deerfield, a candidate in the 10th District against Republican Congressman Bob Dold.

Because voting Democratic is often connected with the Jewish American culture, many Jewish Republicans in the suburbs say they didn’t know there were others like them, says Michael Menis, an Inverness oral surgeon and president of the RJC Chicago.

The RJC has a mailing list of 1,000 and typically draws 100 to 300 members from the Chicago metropolitan area to meetings and events, Menis said.

So far, its primary function has been to “make the community familiar with who’s running,” said Richard Baehr, of Chicago, an active member of the chapter. “Everyone knows Obama versus Romney, but not everyone knows the candidates in the state Senate, state House races. It’s introducing people, getting them a chance to circulate,” he said.

One of those local candidates is Arie Friedman, a Highland Park pediatrician running against Democratic West Deerfield Township Supervisor Julie Morrison in the hope of succeeding retiring Democratic state Sen. Susan Garrett of Lake Forest in the 29th District.

Another is Jonathan Greenberg, of Northbrook, who is running against five­term Democratic state Rep. Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook in the newly drawn 57th District, which includes parts of Northbrook, Buffalo Grove, Prospect Heights, Arlington Heights, Wheeling, Mount Prospect, Palatine and Glenview.

Greenberg, 38, described himself as a liberal up until 10 years ago, when the 9/11 attacks caused him to start paying attention to national security and eventually to “gravitate intellectually to the other side.”

He remains a social moderate, and supports abortion rights and gay marriage.

Yet, like Friedman, he calls his fiscal and foreign policy conservatism the “most important things to me.” While Jewish in a heavily Jewish district, Greenberg says he doesn’t make what he calls a “Jewish case.”

“There’s a taxpayer case. A common sense case. Judaism is timeless heavenly divine sacred things. And politics is necessarily temporal. And human and flawed.”

On the campaign trail, he said, he tells fellow Jews, “We don’t make Torah Law in Illinois. We make Illinois law.”

“I think the RJC does a lot of great things. It opens doors. It’s a great place to find volunteers, to recruit people who are going to work with the campaign,” Greenberg said. “We didn’t know a lot of Republican Jews until we did this. We’ve lost friends.”

Looking toward November, RJC activist Baehr outlined hopes of a “down ticket” effect of Jewish residents casting votes for Romney and also voting for Republicans in local office.

As to the Chicago RJC’s role in that picture, Greenberg, said, the aspect of community is invaluable.

“You’ll find among a lot of people in the RJC that they started out liberal and for whatever reason moved. And once they moved they caught a lot of flak from people in the community,” Greenberg said. “They considered it unfair and they want to get together with people who are also passionate about their Judaism and have different political opinions and that’s OK.”

Copyright © 2012 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Article link.

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Litch: Roberts’ Folly?

Tuesday, July 03, 2012
By: C. Scott Litch

Some argue that Chief Justice Roberts was a genius for putting health care reform back into the political area, recasting the individual mandate as only viable under the taxing power vs. the commerce clause, and keeping the academic and media elite from carping about the illegitimacy of the Supreme Court.

There is no question that the Court’s decision puts the issue of repeal and replace squarely back in the political arena. However, there are several flaws in the “Roberts is a genius” line of reasoning.

First, why should the Chief Justice worry about elite moaning and groaning if he believed the individual mandate was unconstitutional? The mandate as a tax argument lacks merit, as sharply noted in the minority opinion. If the Supreme Court has a teachable moment to undercut the elitist notion that the Constitution places no limits on the federal government’s power, shouldn’t the Chief Justice be bold and courageous enough to make that argument? He might have faced the ire of many law professors, but likely would have the support of a majority of American citizens. Why should the conservative bloc on the court receive opprobrium for their interpretation of the Constitution when the liberal bloc is always ready to vote yes for any expansive reading of the Constitution that supports liberal social policy and the increase of government power? I would argue that a decision to overturn the law would have equally and fairly offered Americans a valid electoral choice. If you want a President to appoint justices who view the Constitution as posing no limits on government power, by all means re-elect Obama. If you want justices who understand the Constitution as imposing constraints, vote for Romney. Further, a ruling of unconstitutionality would also have put the legislative policy decisions squarely in play, as there would certainly be a vastly different approach between Congressional Democrats and Republicans as to the appropriate “replacement legislation.”

Second, if the Chief Justice really believed the law was unconstitutional, it is especially unseemly for him to engage in such a Machiavellian maneuver. Won’t this increase cynicism and decrease respect for the Court more than the impact of a 5-4 opinion striking down the law? The Court as an institution would surely have survived such as outcome.

Politically, the opinion hands the President a huge political victory. He and his supporters can argue that conservatives were off base in challenging the law’s constitutionality and wasted a lot of time and money in doing so. It gives legitimacy to the notion that, despite Roberts’ opinion, there is really no limit on the reach of the federal government. That the government cannot mandate a person to purchase a product by imposing a civil or criminal penalty, but can tax that individual if he or she does not purchase the product, is a distinction that seems without merit and without posing any real limit on government power.

Why do conservative justices have to yield to pressure to find a “middle ground” and compromise when there is never similar pressure on the four liberal justices to break their monolithic approach? When Roberts presumably could not convince a single one of these four justices to switch sides, why do they deserve special consideration for the Chief Justice to bend over backwards to support their expansionist reading of the Constitution? I fear ultimately the decision is just the next step on America’s slide towards a European style social welfare state, which is surely Obama’s goal. He has every right to argue that case, but not to expect the Supreme Court to ignore Constitutional restraints which we had thought separated America from the worse excesses of European-style big government socialism.

Roberts in his confirmation hearings said he considered a judge to be the “umpire.’ As Rich Lowry of National Review points out, in this case apparently the umpire blinked. And we may all be paying the price for this blinking for many years to come.
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Medoff: Benzion Netanyahu’s role in U.S. politics

Thursday, May 03, 2012
By: Rafael Medoff

Benzion Netanyahu -- historian, one-time political activist and father of Israel's prime minister -- died Monday in Jerusalem at 102. An accomplished scholar and the patriarch of one of Israel's most important political families, he also played a surprising and little-known role in American political history.

Netanyahu was born in Poland in 1910 to a family deeply immersed in the world of religious Zionism. His father, Rabbi Nathan Mileikowsky, a popular Zionist preacher, brought the family to British-ruled Palestine in 1920. He Hebraicized the family name to Netanyahu.

In the wake of the Palestinian Arab riots of 1929, Netanyahu was attracted to the militant wing of the Zionist movement, Revisionist Zionism, headed by Vladimir Ze'ev Jabotinsky. His literary talents were recognized early on, and he served as editor in chief of the Revisionist newspaper HaYarden in the 1930s.

In 1940, Jabotinsky sent several of his leading disciples, including Netanyahu and future Knesset member Hillel Kook (better known as Peter Bergson), to the United States to seek funds and public support for the rescue of Europe's Jews and creation of a Jewish state in Palestine.

"It was a brand new world for us," Netanyahu told me in one of my interviews with him. "I had never been to America. But I had to learn quickly -- there was no time. The world of European Jewry was going up in flames."

Netanyahu became executive director of the U.S. wing of the Revisionist Zionist movement and editor of its magazine, Zionews. His essays were notable for their passion, political insights and high level of fluency in a language he only recently had mastered. One 1944 editorial criticized mainstream Jewish leaders as "too cautious, too appeasing, and too ready to swallow the meaningless statements of sympathy that [are] issued from high places."

Bergson and Netanyahu employed tactics that were not commonly used by the American Jewish community at the time, including placing full-page advertisements in The New York Times and other newspapers. Some of the ads challenged the Roosevelt administration's stance on refugees. Others took aim at the British government's White Paper policy of closing Palestine to Jewish immigration. One that Netanyahu authored was headlined "The White Paper Must Be Smashed, if Millions of Jews are to be Saved!"

Netanyahu divided his time between Revisionist headquarters in New York City and Capitol Hill, where he sought to mobilize congressional backing for the Zionist cause. At the time, mainstream Jewish leaders such as Rabbi Stephen S. Wise were strong supporters of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and stayed away from the Republicans. Netanyahu, by contrast, actively cultivated ties to prominent Republicans such as former President Herbert Hoover, as well as dissident Democrats such as Sen. Elbert Thomas of Utah, a Mormon.

In 1944, Netanyahu sought to have the Republican Party endorse Jewish rescue and statehood.

In the months leading up to that year's Republican national convention, the Revisionists undertook what they called “a systematic campaign of enlightenment” about Palestine among GOP leaders such as Hoover, Sen. Robert Taft, who chaired the convention's resolutions committee, and Rep. Clare Booth Luce, wife of the publisher of Time and Life magazines.

The GOP adopted an unprecedented plank demanding "refuge for millions of distressed Jewish men, women, and children driven from their homes by tyranny" and the establishment of a "free and democratic" Jewish state. The Republicans' move compelled the Democrats to compete for Jewish support and treat the Jewish vote as if it were up for grabs. The Democratic National Convention, which was held the following month in Chicago, for the first time endorsed “unrestricted Jewish immigration and colonization” of Palestine and the establishment of “a free and democratic Jewish commonwealth.”

These events helped ensure that support for Zionism and later Israel would become a permanent part of American political culture. Every subsequent Republican and Democratic convention has adopted a similar plank. To do less became politically inconceivable.

In recent years, pundits have speculated on the extent to which Benzion Netanyahu may have influenced his son's actions as prime minister. While it is difficult to draw a direct connection between father and son on specific policy matters, there is a parallel in their efforts to cultivate support for Israel on both sides of the political aisle.

While working as a political activist in the 1940s, Benzion Netanyahu also managed to complete a doctorate in medieval Jewish history at Dropsie College in Philadelphia. He later taught Jewish history at Dropsie, and then at the University of Denver and Cornell University. Netanyahu's magisterial study, “The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain,” widely considered a groundbreaking work in his field, was published in 1995. He spent time in both Israel and the United States over the years, returning to Israel permanently in 1976, the same year his son Yoni was killed while leading the Entebbe rescue operation.

Notoriously reluctant to grant interviews, Netanyahu generally succeeded in eluding the spotlight. He only recently agreed to cooperate in the first documentary on his life and legacy, by Israeli filmmaker Moshe Levinson, which coincidentally is scheduled to premiere this week in Jerusalem.

Rafael Medoff is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in Washington. His latest book, co-authored with Sonja Schoepf Wentling, is “Herbert Hoover and the Jews: The Origins of the 'Jewish Vote' and Bipartisan Support for Israel.”

This article was published by the JTA. (Link) Used with permission of the author.


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