Friday, July 13, 2012
By: Shari Hillman, RJC Communications Director
**Update** Rabbi Lance Sussman told JTA that that Keneseth Israel is committed to having an event with a prominent Republican speaker in the near future. He has been in touch with the RJC to move that program forward. We look forward to working with him to provide some balance in a future program.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is scheduled to speak Monday night at Keneseth Israel, a large Reform synagogue in a suburb of Philadelphia. The announcement on the synagogue's web site says that DWS and local Democratic elected officials will speak, "in support of President Obama and his relationship to the Jewish community and the State of Israel." Oh, and, "Representatives of Governor Romney are being asked to speak at a later date (tba)."
Now look at the official invitation to the event:
It shows that the event is sponsored by "Jewish Americans for Obama" and "Organizing for America-Pennsylvania" – in other words, the Obama reelection campaign. The event is clearly a campaign rally.
To be fair, Keneseth Israel has expressed openness to working with the Republican Jewish Coalition to bring in a Republican speaker in the future. And the synagogue's announcement does say that Romney representatives "are being asked to speak" – but not, "have been asked to speak." That would imply that the synagogue has good intentions, but hasn't yet laid the groundwork to provide the balance that a Jewish non-profit organization should.
It would benefit Keneseth Israel and other synagogues to take concrete steps to ensure balanced programming in advance of any announcements.
Everyone knows that the Jewish vote is up for grabs in this election and that Republicans have the opportunity to make real inroads in the Jewish community this year. When a Jewish synagogue or non-profit hosts a one-sided event like Keneseth Israel's, without showing real effort to provide a comparable opportunity to the other party, it's wrong. It opens the synagogue or organization up to severe and justified criticism for engaging in campaign-related activities that could cost them their non-profit status. We'd rather those groups opened their doors to Republican speakers, so that the community can hear from both sides of the aisle. We're not looking to silence anyone; we're looking for balance and the opportunity to be heard.
Monday, July 09, 2012
By: Shari Hillman, RJC Communications Director
Alan Dershowitz has written a devastating criticism of the NJDC's recent scurrilous attacks on Sheldon Adelson. His defense of Adelson is spot on:
David Harris, the President of the National Jewish Democratic Council, has asked Jewish Democrats to sign a petition demanding that Mitt Romney and the rest of the Republican Party stop taking campaign contributions from Sheldon Adelson, and return those already received. They claim his money is "tainted." This absurd allegation comes from a highly questionable, if not totally discredited, source -- namely a former employee who was fired and is suing Adelson. He claims that Adelson approved of prostitution in his Macau casinos. Harris has apparently credited this claim even though no evidence has been submitted to support it and no finding has been made by any court. Has he never heard of "due process" or the "presumption of innocence?"
I know Sheldon Adelson and I have worked with him on several matters relating to Israel and the Jewish community. I have spoken on behalf of the wonderful school he has built in Las Vegas. And have had the pleasure of teaching one of the brilliant graduates of that school. Adelson was deeply involved in the creation of the Birthright Israel Program, which has had extraordinary success in exposing young Jews to Israel. It's hard to find anyone who has done as much for the Jewish community as Sheldon Adelson. Adelson grew up in Boston in near poverty and is a shining example of the American dream. He is a self-made multi-billionaire who has contributed significantly to the world of modern technology and to the economic growth of Las Vegas and other areas. His generosity has helped repair the world.
I am a Democrat and do not agree with many of Adelson's political views, but I think it's outrageous for the National Jewish Democratic Council to level unfounded allegations against Adelson. They do not speak for me, and for the many other Jews who admire Adelson's contributions to the world, to America, to Israel and to the Jewish community. I don't know who Harris purports to speak for as President of the National Jewish Democratic Council, but his partisan gamesmanship is an embarrassment to many Jewish Democrats. The attack comes with particular ill grace from a Jewish organization, considering all that Adelson has done for Jewish causes, and considering the fact that there is nothing uniquely "Jewish" about the questionable allegations against him.
Monday, July 02, 2012
By: RJC Press Office
July 2, 2012... The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) applauds Gov. Mitt Romney’s decision to visit Israel this summer and meet with Israeli leaders.
RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, “Having hosted Gov. Romney on a previous visit to Israel in 2007, the RJC knows firsthand how strong his commitment is to the Jewish homeland and we are thrilled that he will reinforce that commitment at this important time.”
Gov. Romney has visited Israel three times in the past. At the RJC’s Republican Presidential Candidates Forum in December 2011, Gov. Romney promised to travel to Israel on his first foreign trip as President. He said, “I will reaffirm as a vital national interest Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. I want the world to know that the bonds between Israel and the United States are unshakable.”
This upcoming visit to Israel illustrates once again the stark difference between Gov. Romney and Pres. Obama, who has yet to visit Israel during his term in office, despite having visited a number of nearby nations not friendly to Israel, including Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.
To Help American Citizens in Israel Exercise Their Right to Vote in the U.S. Election
Washington, D.C. (July 2, 2012) -- The Republican Jewish Coalition announced today that RJC Board of Directors member and former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer and RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks will travel to Israel the week of July 9-13 to engage with American citizens living in Israel as part of a voter registration drive, absentee ballot program, and advocacy initiative.
This effort will be comprehensive in scope and will include media events, town hall meetings with U.S. citizens living abroad, and meetings with leading bloggers and social media activists on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms who are expert in communicating directly with potential voters.
The RJC is very excited about this first-time project. The RJC is supporting the efforts of iVoteIsrael (ivoteisrael.com) and Republicans Abroad Israel (www.republicansabroad.org.il/).
RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, "With so many critical issues before us and so much at stake, it is important that every American citizen participate in this election. Americans living abroad are deeply concerned about America's growing debt burden, about jobs and health care, and about foreign policy issues that affect America's international standing. We're very excited to help Americans living in Israel to exercise their right to vote in the U.S. election this year."
According to recent estimates, there are approximately 150,000 Americans living in Israel who are eligible to vote in the November presidential election. A significant percentage of these voters are registered in the battleground states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The number of Americans from these battleground states might be enough to tip the scales in 2012.
"I'm proud to be part of this advocacy initiative," said Fleischer. "As Republicans, we have a point of view to share with the American community in Israel and I look forward to sharing it. It's a long flight, but when you think about Israel being home to 150,000 American voters, it's also the equivalent of visiting Dayton, Ohio or Ft. Lauderdale, FL to get out the message. In this election, every vote is going to be important."
Sunday, July 01, 2012
By: RJC Press Release
Washington, D.C. (July 1, 2012) -- The Republican Jewish Coalition mourns the passing of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.
RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said:
Yitzhak Shamir devoted his life to Israel and the Jewish people. He was a man of great integrity and strong principle, respected even by his opponents for his unyielding commitment to the security and welfare of the Jewish people and the Jewish State. One of his most notable achievements as prime minister was the absorption of over 1 million Soviet Jews and 60,000 Ethiopian Jews into Israel. During the Gulf War, he maintained a policy of remarkable restraint, withholding Israeli retaliation against missile attacks from Iraq. His focus was always on Israel's safety and growth, and the Jewish people's eternal bond with the Land of Israel.
May his family and friends be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. May his memory be for a blessing.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
By: RJC Press Office
Washington, D.C. (June 28, 2012) -- The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) is deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court's decision on Obamacare, Florida v. United States Department of Health and Human Services.
RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, "The Supreme Court has rendered judgement on the constitutionality of Obamacare. It remains up to Congress and the American people to judge whether it is good policy. The serious negative effects this law will have on the economy, on jobs, on medical research and development, and on the quality of health care in America, are very troubling. The American people will have the opportunity to express their opinion on the wisdom of Obamacare in this election year."
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
By: Matt Brooks, RJC Executive Director
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 President Obama has done regarding Israel, the room erupted in applause. They understood exactly what he meant, because they know that 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.
President Obama began his presidency with a Middle East outreach tour that excluded Israel and had as its high point his major speech in Cairo. President Obama told the Muslim world that Israel’s creation was the result of the tragedy in Europe (meaning the Holocaust), echoing the Muslim language that delegitimizes the Jewish state as a European implant in the region. He also said that Israeli settlements were illegitimate.
The President followed that 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 10-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 10 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 things they had already committed to do.
In March of 2010, a routine Israeli government announcement of one step in the planning process for new homes in a Jerusalem neighborhood was made while Vice President 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. Secretary of State Clinton read the riot act to the Prime Minister in a scathing, 45-minute phone call made public by her office. David Axelrod went on the weekend talk shows to call the announcement an “insult.” That 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 their venom and vitriol for Israel.
In the spring of 2011, President Obama made a speech that blindsided Prime Minister Netanyahu just hours before he arrived in this country 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, President 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 U.S. has long defended Israel, the Obama administration has sharply criticized Israel to the international community. When the Security Council has considered anti-Israel resolutions, President Obama has often 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, President Obama inserted plenty of “daylight” between the U.S. 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 that 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. It’s when the words really count and when the time for action comes that the Obama administration has been woefully lacking a pro-Israel record.
Mitt Romney’s record would be just the opposite; pro-Israel and based on a real commitment to a strong U.S.-Israel alliance.
Gallup poll shows Republicans at highest level since Bush victory in 1988
Sign of President Obama's vulnerability
Washington, D.C. (June 8, 2012) -- A new Gallup poll released today shows Republicans are making significant inroads in the Jewish community and that support for President Obama is at a 24-year low for a Democratic presidential candidate. The poll shows President Obama winning just 64% of the Jewish vote, while support for Romney is at 29%, the highest level of Jewish support for a Republican presidential candidate in 24 years.
The Gallup poll also illustrates a significant decrease in Jewish support for Obama between 2008 and 2012. According to Gallup:
Among Jews, Obama's current 64% to 29% advantage compares with a 74% to 23% advantage before the election in 2008. Thus, he is running 10 points lower among Jewish registered voters than in 2008, which is five points worse than his decline among all registered voters compared with 2008.
RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, "This poll is another sign of the erosion of support for Obama among Jewish voters. If the President wins just 64% of the Jewish vote, it would be a disaster for him and his party. Jewish voters are increasingly disillusioned with the President and that's why Mitt Romney is making real inroads in the Jewish community this year."
Jewish support for Democratic presidential candidates has exceeded 64% since 1988; Michael Dukakis took just 64% of the Jewish vote when he was soundly defeated by George H.W. Bush. In 1992, Bill Clinton won 80% of the Jewish vote. In 1996, he was re-elected with 78% of the Jewish vote. Al Gore won 79% of the vote in 2000 and John Kerry took 76% in 2004. President Obama won 78% of the Jewish vote in 2008.
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
By: RJC Press Office
The Republican Jewish Coalition congratulates Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on winning his recall election last night. RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said:
The voters of Wisconsin, like voters across the nation, want what Republicans like Scott Walker are offering: a realistic plan for lowering deficits, increasing economic growth, and tackling our biggest problems with action, not rhetoric. The efforts by Gov. Walker and Republicans in the state legislature in Wisconsin to cut spending, cut taxes, and balance the budget have already shown tangible positive results and people responded to that. That is why Gov. Walker won last night by an even higher margin than his 2010 victory and it's why Republicans nationally can win in 2012: we have the right ideas and the effective policies to get America back on track.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
By: Noah Silverman, RJC Congressional Affairs Director
Many vital decisions hinge on the results of this year’s elections, but few will affect American voters as directly as the future of tax policy. As you probably know, back in 2010, Republicans – who had just seized control of the House - succeeded in compelling President Obama to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax relief provisions in full.
Unfortunately, that reprieve only lasts through the end of this year. So unless the President and congressional leaders in both parties can come to terms on a consensus plan, staggering tax hikes will be imposed on nearly every American household at year’s end. Because of the high stakes, Washington, DC is abuzz with concern about what some are calling “Taxmageddon.”
Assuming no action is taken, economists estimate that Taxmageddon would cause government revenue to surge by $494 billion in just one year. That’s an average of $3,800 per person in 2013.
And don’t assume it will only be the well-off facing a drastically expanded tax burden. Despite the “tax cuts for the rich” demagoguery of the Democrats, 60 percent of the benefits from the 2001 and 2003 tax relief packages go to middle and low-income taxpayers.
Of particular concern for younger families would be the expiration of the child tax credit, which would be halved from $1000 to $500, and the restoration of the marriage penalty.
Investors should brace for huge increases in taxes on dividends and capital gains. And 34 million taxpayers who have been insulated from the Alternative Minimum tax would be made subject to its punitive impact.
Since 2013 will also usher in new taxes under Obamacare and other austerity measures instituted pursuant to last year’s deal to raise the debt ceiling – and our nation is likely to bump up against our borrowing limit again around the same time – you can see why economic forecasters are looking ahead to the coming year with great dread.
Incredibly, President Obama and Democrats in Congress have shown relatively little interest in acting to prevent Taxmageddon.
In fact, it’s quite likely that they view these circumstances as an opportunity to engineer a huge tax hike they can blame on the GOP.
Obama is somewhat constrained politically by the promise he made repeatedly in 2008 not to raise taxes on families earning less than $250,000 a year. But there are clear indications he will jettison that pledge if he is reelected.
In The Escape Artists, his recent account of the Obama administration’s early economic decision-making, Noam Scheiber explains that the President’s first budget director, Peter Orszag, “believed the only practical way to balance the budget was to repeal all the Bush tax cuts, not just the upper-income variety.”
... the administration’s chief wonk – Barack Obama – was intrigued. He asked a series of encouraging questions about how the proposal would work. According to two sources in the room, he was taken with both the political merits – that is, putting Republicans on the defensive – and the policy rationale of lopping trillions off the deficit. He gave no indication that he was troubled by the plan’s most explosive feature: that it would likely break a central campaign promise – not raising taxes on the middle class – one Republicans would surely wrap around his neck with populist glee...
What is clear is that, having been tempted to end all of the Bush tax cuts in 2009, the president would only find the idea more attractive were he to win a second term. At that point, he will never again stand before the voters as a presidential candidate. There would be nothing to stop him from flouting a campaign promise, even one as sensitive as his tax pledge.
Since even a defeated President Obama will remain in office until after the expiration of these tax relief provisions, turbulence may be inevitable, but stopping tax code changes that would imperil jobs and the economy will be easier if the President is a lame duck.
This year, the GOP must educate voters who may not be aware of the looming Taxmageddon disaster so that we can elect a President who is not secretly enamored with the idea of massive across-the-board tax increases.
This article as published in the March-April issue of the RJC Bulletin, a bimonthly newsletter sent out to current paid RJC members and leaders. To receive upcoming issues of the RJC Bulletin, please join the RJC or renew your membership by calling 202-638-6688.